William Saunderson-Meyer

The strange case of the disappearing president

President Jacob Zuma is South Africa’s invisible man. The person elected to lead the nation is slowly fading away like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, until eventually, one assumes, only the grin will remain. Like many a politician before him who found the heat in the local kitchen too much to endure, Zuma has become a…

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Lost for words to describe Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma

It is something that is always at the back of the minds of leaders: the question of how they will be remembered by subsequent generations. In the deferential East, the Chinese will happily bob and scrape to such obvious fibs as The Great Helmsman to describe mass murderer Mao Zedong, while North Korea hails Kim…

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Protecting the dignity of politicians

One thinks of politicians as vain and thick-skinned. Arrogant and shameless. Duplicitous bullies. People to tolerate but rarely to love. Men and women with the backbones of amoebae but the survival instincts of cockroaches. It appears one is just so wrong, for it seems that they bleed emotionally like any of us. All the way…

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Scotland: A Petri dish for the virus of nationalism

More than 40 observers from a Canadian separatist movement arrived in Edinburgh this week for the final days of Scotland’s independence referendum. It was a small marker that whatever the outcome – potentially a name change from United Kingdom to Untied Kingdom – this was an event that is going to reverberate for a long while. …

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Time to pull thumb, Mr President

Some of President Jacob Zuma’s top people were all thumbs this week. First up was deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, who also heads the party’s Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Military Veterans’ Association. Speaking at a Soweto memorial service, he accused the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of being an agent for the United States Central Intelligence Agency….

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Ebola lays bare the fragile nature of the ‘Africa rising’ narrative

The “Africa rising” narrative of the past couple of years is emotionally compelling for anyone living here. Not because such a rise would be deserved, but because it happens to be true. Investment in sub-Saharan Africa has been booming and the middle-class is burgeoning. Although not everywhere triumphant, democracy has taken vigorous root. On the…

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Time for the media to catch a wake-up over the EFF

It’s easy to forget that 94 out of every 100 voters in the May general election did not choose the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Were one dependent only on the South African media, one would easily come away with the impression of that statistical reality being reversed. For such is the media enchantment with the…

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ANC’s ideological arteriosclerosis throttles job growth

It’s one of the staples of South African journalism. It plays as comedy but it is actually closer to tragedy. The scenario is a congress of one of the trade unions or leftist political movements. The delegates, uniformly attired in radical chic T-shirts and caps, express solidarity with the exploited working class and declaim that…

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Pallo Jordan’s exit: Cutting off our thingamajigs to spite our watchamacallits

Pallo Jordan’s political self-immolation is tragic. To lose him from Parliament and the ANC’s influential national executive committee, following his exposure by the Sunday Times as lying about his academic qualifications, is a blow for the country. The conventions of political honour – an oxymoron if there ever was one – demand an abject apology…

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Mother of the nation’s bid to be farmer of the year

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. You gotta admit, what a woman. All heart. Many pitiless people still whine about her role in the Mandela United Football Club and its Sowetan reign of terror in the closing years of apartheid. Admittedly, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did rule that she should be held “politically and morally accountable for gross…

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