William Saunderson-Meyer

Farlam to Eskom: Finding the truth or hiding it

The commission of inquiry is one of the most useful tools in the politician’s toolbox.  In the Westminster system of government it developed as a mechanism for government to seek opinion, advice and information from outside the narrow confines of the civil service. It soon grew into a way to build public trust by addressing…

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ANC is lost in a fog of doublethink and doublespeak

Military theorists speak of the “fog of war”. It’s that swirling mist of uncertainty where not only the true intentions and capabilities of one’s adversaries are unclear, but so too the true measure of the resources one can deploy. The great Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz wrote that it took a particularly skilled intelligence to…

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Kits, cats, sacks and wives, how many were flying SAA?

Forget about the cryptic Nostradamus if you want to descry the shape of the future in the utterances of the past. Look rather at an unknown medieval English riddler who with uncanny foresight predicted the excesses almost 400 years later of the South African government. The riddle is about a man with four wives on…

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The ANC gets an ‘F’ for fibbing. Must try harder

It’s an oldie but goldie. How can one tell when a politician is lying? Answer: When their lips are moving. It’s distressing not only that President Jacob Zuma’s administration is inept and corrupt. What is almost worse is the insultingly poor quality of the explanations proffered when things go wrong. After 21 years of assiduous…

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Mbete, a disaster as National Assembly speaker

So, it is all okay then? National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has apologised for labelling her bête noire Julius Malema a ‘cockroach’. After all, to err is human, to forgive divine? No, it is not okay. If the farce that played out around President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) were to have…

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The chortling schoolboy fluffs his sonorous monologue

It was the best and worse of South African political discourse. It was the raw hope of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison exactly 25 years ago this week, reduced to a squabbling farce. It was the magisterial Chair of the National Chamber of Provinces versus the classroom monitor pettiness of the Speaker of the National…

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Social media dump Zuma in a political pickle

It is a legal maxim never to ask in court a question to which you don’t already know the answer. There’s a political equivalent, which is never to ask voters for advice that you don’t intend taking. In advance of next week’s State of the Nation address (Sona), the Presidency invited South Africans to use…

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Zuma’s bad dose of ‘premature proclamation’ causes legislative impotence

It’s not often that a country’s leader goes to court to nullify laws that his own government drafted and he earlier happily signed. But hey, this is South Africa where the left hand often is at odds with its right-hand partner. Here, trade unions regularly demonstrate against the very government that they are part of….

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Marie biscuit corruption shows up the rot

This week a minor official, corrupted with a packet of Marie biscuits, highlighted starkly the present rot and inequities in the nation. Corruption is endemic to all political systems. What differs is how it is dealt with. Because governments in Western democracies are easily voted out, popular outrage over corruption is assuaged by periodically acting…

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Before blaming the West, let’s shake off our African passivity

So are African lives less important to the international community than Western lives? Following the worldwide attention given to the Paris killings by Islamic militants, it’s a question being widely asked and generally answered in the affirmative. The refrain is that while fewer than two dozen French were killed, during that same week the Islamic…

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