Can community television go the distance?

Community television has huge potential in this country – or does it? The media is potentially about to experience a boom in community television, but the future of this – considering the stations that exist – is uncertain.

Zuma is closing down our society

It seems more than likely that Jacob Zuma will be elected president of the ANC in December, which will undoubtedly see him remaining president of South Africa for another five years. What will South Africa look like after 10 years of Zuma's rule? Will society have become more open, or will growing authoritarianism lead to democratic spaces being closed down?

Responsibility is key for our future

Steve Biko, of course, did not live to see the way politics and black business have connected since 1994. But he may well have been horrified. And he would no doubt have seen a key role for black consciousness (BC) in fixing the problem.

Review: JM Coetzee: A Life in Writing

The first authorised biography of South African writer JM Coetzee, by the late Afrikaans literary critic JC Kannemeyer, who died shortly after completing the book last year, has just been published. Coetzee’s reputation for reclusiveness means the work is certain to attract a great deal of interest. REBECCA DAVIS found the biography revealing.

Time to go back and hit the books

Some progress has been made in access to education but just because you have bums on seats doesn't mean students are actually learning anything. The 2011 Census shows enormous improvements since 1996 in access to education but leaves persistent questions about quality largely unanswered.

Politics is not rocket science but it helps if you know a little

Derek Hanekom has taken over the department of science and technology after eight years as its deputy. A small department, it sits at the heart of much of South Africa’s research apparatus. The Mail & Guardian sat down with Hanekom for a cappuccino.

ANC has failed comrade in arms for 25 long years

The 25-year struggle of Mrs Jeanette Mulobela continues.

Free our universities from Nzimande’s blade

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, now seems set to upset that carefully balanced apple-cart. He ought to listen more carefully to the CHE, and be slow to discard such advice.

The night owl catches the field mouse

I would like to protest. The world is clearly biased towards morning people. I realised this again with biting clarity as I reached to silence my alarm for the fourth time this morning. I have one requirement when buying a cellphone, and one requirement only: it must have a snooze function.

On the move: South Africa and migration

Last week, statistics from Census2011 indicated the extent to which South Africa continued to be shaped by migration. This is a country still on the move. Khadija Patel spoke to Wits University’s Professor Loren Landau about the impact of migration on the economy and development.

Today's loan shark feeding frenzy, tomorrow's revolution

Hlomela Dlamini* has been working for the Makana Municipality in Grahamstown for some 15 years. He gets paid about R4,800** gross a month, but only nets little more than half of that. Each month he has the usual government deductions and there’s money that must be paid to his trade union, SAMWU. He also has repayments taken off his salary for Old Mutual, Sanlam and three funeral policies. The deductions off his municipal package total R2,270.00**, which means that after 15 years of working for government, his net pay is R2,530.00**.

School corridors of power

The escalation of problems affecting our schooling system has led the basic education department, the ANC and Cosatu to plead for “greater community involvement”.

Eastern Cape rolls out desks slowly

The province says putting furniture in schools is difficult without sufficient funds.

War is Upon Us

When COSATU and the Communist Party have to rely on the police and their stun grenades, rubber bullets and, by some accounts, live ammunition to force their way into a stadium against the opposition of striking workers it is clear that their assumption of a permanent right to leadership is facing a serious challenge from below. It's equally clear that the ruling party and its allies intend to force obedience rather than to seek to renegotiate support or enable democratic engagement, that the police aren't even making a pretence of being loyal to the law rather than the ruling party and that this is the way that Blade Nzimande likes it.

Census 2011: Not enough progress in education

What is clear from the 2011 Census results is that more South Africans are getting some education compared to 2001, but not enough of it. Troubling gender disparities persist too – twice the number of black women than black men aged 20 and older had no schooling.

Resist calls for lower rates and bigger fiscal deficits

THE National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) resolved in August on "rolling mass action in the form of a national strike", targeting the "National Treasury and related government departments".

On the third force

The National Union of Mineworkers has informed us that workers organising their own strikes are being covertly 'manipulated' and their strikes and protests 'orchestrated' by 'dark forces' and other 'elements' that amount, of course, to another manifestation of the infamous 'third force'. 'Backward' and even 'sinister' beliefs in magic consequent to the rural origin of many of the workers are, we've been told by an array of elite actors, including the Communist Party, central to this manipulation. Frans Baleni, horrified at the insurgent power of self-organisation, has not just informed us that his union is trying to “narrow the demands” and persuade workers to “return to work”. He has also called for “the real force behind the upheavals” to be “unearthed” by the state on the grounds that “It is completely untrue [that] the workers are responsible” for the ongoing revolt.

DA’s ‘unity’ dream will have to wait a little longer

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will get part of what it wants. But not now. And not because of anything it does. The DA’s call for a political realignment has been seen as a move to unite opposition parties behind it. But unity is neither a new idea nor one that is likely to strengthen opposition parties — the electoral system means that the vote is not split and a combined opposition will do no better than the present one. In fact, it may do worse.

Jeff Radebe on Traditional Courts Bill: Don't think twice, it's all right

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s visit to UCT to address students on Tuesday night comes at a time when he is presiding over a number of pieces of controversial legislation. Little surprise that he was met with a picket organised by students concerned about the Traditional Courts Bill. But they need hardly have bothered – Radebe was giving almost nothing away.

Will the one-year salary freeze hold?

Can it be that last Friday those who hold power here agreed that the events of the past few weeks will be a turning point after all?

Armstrong: Cheat or victim of can-do-ism?

While Lance Armstrong, former international cycling superstar, has not owned up to doping allegations, the evidence has become too compelling to continue denying. This raises a difficult question: is he simply an immoral cheat? Or is he also a symptom - perhaps even a victim - of unhealthy American can-do-ism? Armstrong, it would seem, represents the best and worst of American competitiveness.

A high-seas education

In January last year Martinique Stilwell was well into her memoir of a childhood at sea. In fact, she was nearing the end of it, writing about her 18-year-old self who was preparing to go to medical school — an astonishing feat considering much of her learning came from a few hours of maths and English a day.

The great NGO funding crisis, Part II

Rebecca Davis studied at Rhodes University and Oxford before working in lexicography at the Oxford English Dictionary. After deciding she’d rather make up words than define them, she returned to South Africa in 2011 to write for the Daily Maverick, which has been a magnificilious decision.

Self-organisation, not magic, the drive behind mine action

The National Union of Mineworkers has informed us that workers organising their own strikes are being covertly “manipulated” and their strikes and protests “orchestrated” by “dark forces” and other “elements” that amount, of course, to another manifestation of the infamous “third force”.

No room for slippage in fiscal obstacle course

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan tried hard in the medium-term budget policy statement to reassure sceptics that South Africa will achieve its goal of fiscal-deficit reduction. The deficit will fall, he projects, from 4.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year to 3.1% in 2015-16. Government debt will peak at just less than 40% of GDP, up from 23% in 2008-09.

Nkandlagate: DA vs. the Ministerial Handbook

As Parliament refuses to debate the alleged expenditure of almost R250 million on Jacob Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla, the DA is taking the gloves off. On Monday, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko announced a raft of measures that they want to see taken to ensure Nkandlagate doesn’t happen again.

Simply having a female president will not rescue the ANC

A recent edition of City Press carried an article “The time is nigh for the ANC to have a woman president” (City Press, October 7) by Thenjiwe Mtintso, the veteran ANC leader and Umkhonto weSizwe commander who now occupies the position of South African ambassador to Italy.

The state against the people

When Cosatu and the Communist Party have to rely on the police and their stun grenades, rubber bullets and, by some accounts, live ammunition to force their way into a stadium against the opposition of striking workers, it is clear that their assumption of a permanent right to leadership is facing a serious challenge from below. It's equally clear that the ruling party and its allies intend to force obedience rather than to seek to renegotiate support or enable democratic engagement.

The myth that we did it by ourselves

If we want to understand how many in this country’s middle class see the world, we need to turn to a Canadian philosopher. And if we do, we will begin to realise how some attitudes make it much harder for this to become a country for all its people.

A R60m 'African solution for an African problem'

A R60-million "African solution for an African problem" is set to benefit two-million pupils across South Africa over the next three years.

Perlemoen poaching racket

They see themselves as the Robin Hoods of the sea, redistributing income to a community left destitute by what they perceive to be unfair government policies in a highly organised, multimillion-rand industry that has plundered the perlemoen reserves of the Eastern Cape.

Navigate SA’s linguistic minefield with tolerance

Separate conversations on recent flights have underlined for me the important role that language will play in our search for cross-cultural unity and harmony.

Hebron: The capital of ugly and keffiyehs

The keffiyeh has been a powerful political symbol for decades. But Hebron, where it is manufactured in bulk and worn as a statement of courage, is the broken centre of a fast-unravelling region.

Judge is right: politicising courts is a mistake

At last, a judge has reminded us of what many politicians and jurists have forgotten — that democracy is rule by the citizenry, not lawyers and judges.

Western Cape farm protests: further trouble beyond the horizon?

Groups representing Western Cape farmworkers have said that if their wage demands are not met by 4 December, the winelands will face renewed labour unrest.

Know the rules, drop the spin

None of us would take seriously a football reporter who didn’t know the rules of the game. Why, then, must we take seriously reporting on Mangaung which does not know how the ANC chooses its leaders?

Dreaming of Our Own Lula Moment

We need to draw a clear distinction between redemptive fantasies that, while they may be comforting, ultimately function to legitimate injustice and, on the other hand, redemptive visions that can inspire collective action against injustice.

Union poster: 'Feel it! Western Cape Marikana is here!'

The Western Cape labour conflict is being contested in more arenas than merely the farmlands.

E Cape pupils: Teachers hit us until our hands bleed

Horrendous hostel facilities, physical abuse by teachers and inconsistent recording of marks are some of the pupils' complaints.

Students are putting us in the picture

In one of the photographs set to be displayed at the upcoming My Body My Choice exhibition, a young woman stands staring at the camera defiantly, her stance that of a prize fighter.

Death of a lion of the law, Arthur Chaskalson

Former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson died on Saturday from leukaemia.

People were central to Chaskalson’s endeavours

The apartheid government tried to keep apart, on the basis of skin colour, people who have a common future and destiny.

Politics won't change Africa - her children will

It isn't just struggle heroes who have earned the right to offer solutions for our continent, argues Verashni Pillay.

Unflinching fight for human rights

Chaskalson had a soft manner, but a formidable and exceptional legal mind.

Time to take performance monitoring seriously

Professional footballers and rugby players are today fitted with GPS devices that monitor their movements around the field. Coaches and managers analyse the data obtained to determine the distance run by individual players during a match.

‘Service delivery’ isn’t the problem

Our problem is not that we have too little “service delivery”. It is that we have too much.

We must stop using wealth to measure worth

We are beginning to understand that the gap between what many earn and what they need is a cause of some of our problems. We now need to understand the changes we must make to fix this.

DAs new member: more whimper than bang?

When the DA announced that it would present a former ANC Premier and NEC member who was joining their ranks on Tuesday, frenzied speculation began as to who it would be. The answer – former Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela – was greeted as a let-down by many, though the DA continues to hail her arrival as a major coup.

The day the Cape winelands burned

By Wednesday, the Cape winelands had morphed into a battlefield. As fires smouldered across the famously scenic fruit-growing region, in the embers of the ongoing labour dispute we found ordinary people who were tired, angry, injured and frightened.

SA’s policy response to global crisis not sufficient

Economic policy was a key issue in the US elections. There was heated disagreement on whether President Barack Obama’s policies were

Western Cape protests: calmer day, thicker plot

Thursday was a day of marginally less violence in the Western Cape’s week of ongoing protest. For one thing, there were no reported fatalities, though by nightfall it seemed that tensions were escalating.

Nzimande’s blade’ must cut where it is mostly needed

The debate on the Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill 2012 which were passed by the National Assembly, giving Minister Blade Nzimande more powers to intervene in universities. A lot has been said in opposition to and in support of these Bills.

Western Cape protests: Bloody hands in private security firms?

The weekend brought another fatality resulting from the Western Cape farm protests. Police have stated unequivocally that his death was not the result of their actions. Now there are rumours that Bongile Ndleni may have been shot by one of the private security firms brought in by winelands farmers to protect their land.

Cape winelands: Whose protests are they anyway?

The DA says the ANC deliberately fomented dissatisfaction among farmworkers to destabilise the Western Cape. It also says the treatment of workers from Lesotho lies at the heart of the protest.

Even the Dead

And then, despite the fear, I set off I put my cheek against death's cheek ? Roberto Bolaño, 'Self Portrait at Twenty Years', The Romantic Dogs, 2006

POIB: The Sound of Secrets

Wednesday saw the beginning of the last round of Parliamentary deliberations on the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, from the ad hoc committee which has been considering it for almost exactly a year. After over five hours of occasionally heated discussion, some concessions were won – but other aspects of the Bill remain troubling.

Judge Davis on 'No confidence': Debate must happen, but cannot be rushed

On Thursday in the Western Cape High Court, Judge Dennis Davis squashed opposition parties’ hopes of forcing a parliamentary no confidence debate in President Jacob Zuma that same afternoon.

Language of war festers in the ANC

Books show party disgraces dead, says Richard Pithouse.

Pupils win as court case is settled

They've just won a major legal victory, but for Equal Education the battle has only begun.

Remembering Jakes – Chancellor, our chancellor

The death of Rhodes University chancellor Jakes Gerwel will leave a big void in many people’s lives.

Strikes risk huge job loss

South African Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus yesterday warned South Africa risked major job losses if the trend of violent wildcat strikes and high wage settlements continued.

A political Economy of South Africa’s Digital Broadcasting Transition

How many South Africans are aware of the massive changes in the pipeline for free-to-air television? Not many, it would seem.

What drives a woman to abandon her baby?

The abandonment of babies was brought to the public’s attention in an article published in this newspaper last Saturday “200 babies abandoned”.

Opposing factions may spoil ANC poll

The question seems designed to spread needless alarm: a split in the ANC may well be at least five years away. But the possibility that ANC votes have become so contested that an election for president might not produce a result which everyone accepts, looks much more real now than it did a couple of weeks ago.

Rise in police violence a symptom of social ills

Last week, the world was confronted with the horror of South Africa’s first post-apartheid massacre. Over thirty striking Lonmin mineworkers were killed by the police, who turned semi-automatic rifle fire onto the workers after claiming that they were shot at first.

New World Bank chief is committed to the poor

Do global financial institutions suffer from a "democratic deficit"? Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan recently suggested that the election of an American, Jim Yong Kim, as the new president of the World Bank is evidence of a "democratic deficit" in the global financial institutions. This followed the failure of respected Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, to be elected, despite having the support of most developing nations.

Not enough to look for scapegoats for Marikana

We are far more likely to beat poverty if we stop trying to peddle fantasies about what our economy can achieve.

DA’s witch hunt is no substitute for a diagnosis

Witch hunts happen when it is easier for people to blame an enemy for problems than to look at the real causes. Which is why the witch hunt against trade unions prevents us dealing with our challenges.

Marikana: The matter of embedded journalism

As police fired on miners rushing towards them at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, local media captured the bloody battle from a vantage point that saw them in the safe embrace of our country’s boys and girls in blue. What does this perspective mean about news, truth and events that could shape our very history? MANDY DE WAAL spoke to Rhodes University Journalism Professor Jane Duncan about media coverage of the Marikana massacre.

Infrastructure meant to reduce, not raise, costs

It is clear the government sees the announced public sector infrastructure spending programme of R845bn over the next five years as the key driver of economic growth and job creation in SA.

On the Marikana massacre and intellectual self-defence

South Africans are still reeling from shock after a clash between the police and striking mineworkers that left dozens of workers dead. The dominant narrative up to this point, supported by camera footage and other media accounts, has been that armed workers attacked the police, who retaliated in self-defence after at least one mineworker shot at them.

Hysteria will complicate search for solutions

Welcome to the season of breathless commentary, when the gulf between political noise and reality becomes ever wider. It is a time to look beyond the loud sounds to what may be really happening.

Racist, Racist South Africa

In the wake of the Marikana massacre, information is trickling into the public domain, which suggests that the police killing of workers was more premeditated than initially thought. Workers who were released from police custody have confirmed accounts of unjustified police violence against protestors, and these accounts have challenged the dominant narrative of the police having acted purely in self-defence.

On Corruption

Corruption in South Africa is not nearly as ubiquitous as it is in countries like India or Italy. But it is becoming an increasingly ordinary part of the texture of everyday life. It is certainly a serious issue and its certainly obscene that even state projects with as urgent a social function as providing school books and housing to the poor are taken more seriously in some quarters as opportunities for personal enrichment than as collective social obligations. Its equally obscene that corporate power has colluded to fix the price of a commodity as basic as bread in a country where its not unusual for people to get through their day on little more than a cup of sweet tea and a couple of slices of white bread.

It needn't take a catastrophe to pull us together

Are we able to try to fix our problems without going through a disaster? This odd-sounding question is raised by Mandela Day, which provided its annual evidence of the strangeness of South Africanness. On every other day of the year (barring world cups and sporting victories), we yell at each other, confirming how little we have moved from the divisions of apartheid. And yet, on this day, many of us show not only that we are capable of finding common ground but that we can do it by focusing on the needs of the poor.

Solutions to educational decline to come from us

THE dimensions and details of the education crisis South Africa finds itself in are well known.

The ANC’s ICT Techno-fix

Recently, the African National Congress (ANC) released a discussion document on communications, entitled ‘Building an inclusive society through information and communication technology (ICT)’, in preparation for its elective conference in Mangaung.

The Danger of the Blindly Obedient Soldier

Many South Africans are worried about the mounting evidence of abuse of security cluster resources, and rightly so, as it is a highly sensitive area of government that could easily be used against political opponents of the ruling elite. Without investigative journalists drawing on sources of information inside the cluster, these abuses may not have come to light.

The Turning Point for Internet Freedom

Media freedom in South Africa has been receiving bad press recently, although most of the attention has focussed on threats to print and broadcasting freedom. Little attention has been paid to creeping censorship of the supposedly most democratic medium of all, namely the internet.

The Wages of Violence

It was June 16, 1992. A number of us had been to hand out pamphlets at a rally to commemorate the events of the day in 1976, as we generally did on that day. I returned home in the afternoon, and decided to phone my mother to discuss a favour I needed to ask of her. I phoned her at 3.30pm, when I knew she would be home.

The Dangers of Crying Wolf on Press Freedom

Recently the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications held the third in a series of public hearings on print media transformation. Many in the print media industry have been sceptical about the Committee’s motives in calling the sector to account on this issue, and understandably so.

South African Television's Accumulation by Dispossession

Last month, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) released draft Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) regulations for a second round of public consultations. The DTT transition provides South Africa with an opportunity to address the uneven development of television, given the enhanced capacity for more broadcasters to offer more channels.

Corruption has even become means of social control

Corruption in South Africa is not nearly as ubiquitous as it is in countries like India or Italy. But it is becoming an increasingly ordinary part of the texture of everyday life. It is certainly a serious issue and its certainly obscene that even state projects with as urgent a social function as providing school books and housing to the poor are taken more seriously in some quarters as opportunities for personal enrichment than as collective social obligations. Its equally obscene that corporate power has colluded to fix the price of a commodity as basic as bread in a country where its not unusual for people to get through their day on little more than a cup of sweet tea and a couple of slices of white bread.

The Education Crisis and the Politics of Contempt

In 1987, in the midst of a Cape Town winter, Jeremy Cronin wrote a poem about being on the run under the state of emergency, his picture on the walls of the police stations that still squat, square and fenced, across the country like forts on the borderlands of some incompletely subdued colony. The poem speaks of the “snuffling soul” of his newborn son as he stretches out his fist in the afterglow of the timeless pleasure of an infant at the breast. “In the depths of their emergency”, Cronin wrote, this fist became his flag:

On the Return of the Political

When the African National Congress was founded in Bloemfontein in 1912 Sol Plaatje, then a newspaper editor, was elected as its first Secretary General. Plaatje, along with some other mission educated African intellectuals, had been optimistic about the new country that had come into being with the Union of South Africa in 1910. But within a year it was clear that segregation was going to be at the heart of the union, the white union, that followed the Boer war, its concentration camps and the English success in seizing control of the gold-fields.

No simple solution to SA’s inequality problem

SOUTH Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. The richest 10% of the population earns 58% and the poorest 10% just 0.5% of national income. The poorest 50% of the population earns 8% of income.

Without a vision, we’re at the mercy of the world

THE Reserve Bank’s decision to cut interest rates by 0.5% last month reflects heightened concern about the growing weakness of SA’s economy. This concern is echoed in the recent World Bank report on SA and its lowered forecast of our gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year to just 2.5%. And that isn’t all. SA, the World Bank noted, is especially vulnerable if the economies of the European Union or China weaken more than expected. This is because Europe is SA’s largest export market, while weakness in China could trigger further falls in the prices of commodities that make up the bulk of our exports.

Problem with economic pie is it may get smaller

THERE are many reasons economic debate in SA is frequently so heated. Protagonists lack common histories or yardsticks against which to judge each other's arguments. In such circumstances, real debate and agreement are impossible.

ANC's mining report makes a foolish assumption

A central theme of discussions at this week's African National Congress (ANC) policy conference will be state's role in the economy. Mining will enjoy particular attention when the report, State Intervention in the Minerals Sector ( SIMS ) is discussed.

The Left's failure to resolve global crisis gives fascism room

LAST year Rhodes University academic Jane Duncan warned of "proto fascism" emerging in South Africa. At the same time, in an article for a local publication, I wrote that "the first loud trumpet calls to fascism in modern South Africa have been sounded".

Marikana’s shadow will engulf whole economy

The wildcat strikes on SA’s mines that inevitably followed the wage settlement at Marikana have important implications for the economy and for the future of mining. Lost mining production from strikes comes as the economy is already running a very large deficit on the current account of the balance of payments. We rely on inflows of "hot money" — foreign portfolio purchases of bonds and equities — to fund this deficit. Foreign investors are large owners of South African mining shares. The risk is growing that they will take fright and sell their shares just as our exports shrink. The combination of a high current account deficit and sudden capital outflows would be devastating for the rand and local asset prices. This could push SA’s feeble economy back into recession.

SA media gets a shot of Mampoer

Some big names in South African media have come together to create, a website designed to amend the dearth of long-form journalism in this country. In an era where 140 characters are seen as adequate commentary, they’re selling articles of up to 15,000 words. Can it work?

How I learnt to stop worrying and love black men

Interestingly enough, my attraction to black men only started at university. Before then, I would never have thought of black men as potential sexual or romantic partners; as a teenager, they never entered my mind when I pondered over who was hot and who was not in my class at school. The origin of my inability to imagine being sexually intimate with black teenage boys, was the fact that I grew up in a deeply racist, working-class coloured community in Grahamstown.

The poor don’t pose a threat to fiscal discipline

Most rating agencies, and many to whom they speak, would be horrified to learn that they share a view of our future with many on the left. But it is this shared story that goes a long way towards explaining Moody’s decision to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating.

Jansen: Let the memory of Imam Haron inspire us to fix education

University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor Jonathan Jansen was in Cape Town on Tuesday to deliver the fifth Imam Haron Lecture, held annually to commemorate the memory of the Muslim activist, murdered during Apartheid, whose name it bears. Jansen wasn’t pulling any punches, saying responsibility for SA’s failing education system couldn’t end with the state.

Blacks can be racist they are simply human

It was at Rhodes University that I first heard that blacks can't be racist. An older dreadlocked student, with a torturous habit of speaking painstakingly slowly (a habit I suspected was designed to win an argument by inducing a coma in an opponent), tried to convince me that blacks can't be racist. He failed.

Mangaung may cap year of damp squibs

For those who believe our politics is only about leadership elections, this could just turn out to be the year of the damp squib.

Our speech could unite us

Language is the key to social cohesion. No, I am not suggesting that all South Africans should learn and speak to each other in English. We have tried that. Although important, it has largely failed —only we elite have been touched by the magic tongue.

Seeking out the Bantu in his bathroom

Early on in my interview with Eusebius McKaiser, whose book A Bantu in My Bathroom has just been published, he flourished a big panga against a common trend among journalists and columnists: gathering their published articles into a book.

Training new academics is a complex challenge

In last month’s Getting Ahead, Sean Muller quite rightly points out that “In academia there is often a remarkably laissez-faire attitude towards human-resource planning. Consequently, there is essentially no national coordination on the development of young academics for local universities and some departments lurch from one staffing crisis to another”, (“More PhDs are not the answer”, Mail & Guardian, September 7).

Marikana, the Farlam Commission, and the Undeclared State of Emergency

The Commission of Enquiry headed by retired judge Ian Farlam, into the deaths in August of approximately 44 people at Marikana, and the injury and arrest of scores more, has not got off to a good start.

Courts protect, but the people must lead

The Constitutional Court’s judgment on Menzi Simelane’s fitness to head the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should have helped repair damage caused by the Supreme Court of Appeals’ decision in the same case.

Tsunami of small rebellions

Described as a "gentle revolutionary", John Holloway is a communist philosopher, lawyer and academic who champions the cause of the Zapatista peasants' movement in Mexico, and whose current visit to South Africa was inspired by the urban social movement Abahlali base Mjondolo.

Democracy in SA still elusive

Only the crudest propagandist would dare deny that the ANC is an increasingly predatory and authoritarian excrescence on society rather than a democratic expression of society. It is equally clear that the party confronts what is arguably the highest rate of sustained popular protest anywhere in the world, has overwhelmingly lost the support of the intelligentsia and is increasingly resorting to violence and other forms of repression to contain dissent.

The Lion, the Prez and the Airport

International lobby group Avaaz has announced that is taking legal action against ACSA and Primedia after the removal of advertisements featuring Jacob Zuma’s face from the international arrivals hall at OR Tambo airport. Avaaz argues that there is a freedom-of-expression issue at stake as well as a contractual obligation to display the ads. REBECCA DAVIS investigates.

Facing Reality

The African National Congress has been captured by a predatory elite that is cynical, corrupt, ruthless and reckless. It is actively reinscribing unbridgeable inequalities into the deep structures of our society. The transit camps and new townships in the cities, the enduring ways in which the former Bantustans remain separate and unequal zones in the countryside, the state of public education and the growth of unemployment and precarious work all mark out this out with undeniable clarity. Workers live in shacks while their bosses gather unimaginable wealth. There is an abundance of land for game farms and golf courses but from Johannesburg to Cape Town the state sends out its men with guns to illegally and violently dispossess people that seize just enough land, often wasteland, to erect a one room shack.

False alarmism makes progress seem like setbacks

There are few more certain causes of disaster than those who insist we can progress only if we have certainty. The African National Congress (ANC) policy conference did little to take us forward. But some of the reaction to it did much to take us backward.

Populist slogans sacrifice economy for politics

The pace at which economies grow over the long term is determined mainly by structural factors. When policies encourage high rates of investment, job creation and the more efficient use of capital and labour, economies grow rapidly. Economies that fail to achieve these outcomes grow slowly.

SA's Internet freedom in trouble

South Africans should not only focus on government restrictions, but need to become more vigilant about businesses that censor Internet freedom.

The Enduring Horror of South Africa

In her recently republished autobiography Emma Mashinini, the grand old lady of the trade union movement, ascribes the deep roots of her steadfast political commitment to a desire to assert that: “I am human. I exist. I am a complete person.”

Gap between supporters and ANC a key theme at indaba

Contrary to much of what we read, the African National Congress's (ANC's) policies are not about to cause the country problems. But nor are they likely to provide solutions.

The problem with Mandela Day

Mandela Day in our country has limitations. On my recent visit to Rwanda, I witnessed how they involve their whole country in a traditional practice called Umuganda.

We must stop blaming and start compromising

Social partnership has not failed us — it has not been tried. A key feature of events since Marikana is not something that happened but something that didn’t: there has been no serious attempt to get business, labour and the government together to discuss a response, either at the National Economic Development and Labour Council or at any other forum. This seems difficult to explain, given that, only a while ago, the air was thick with talk of an economic Codesa.

Deficit demands SA boosts exports and savings

In the second quarter of this year, SA ran a deficit on the current account of the balance of payments equal to 6.4% of gross domestic product (GDP). This would translate to an annual deficit of R200bn if sustained for a full year. In rand terms, this is the largest current account deficit yet. As a share of GDP, it has been exceeded only in 2007 and 2008. But the current account deficit this year reflects much greater structural economic weaknesses than were present in 2007-08. Then, the deficits occurred when the economy was growing by more than 5% a year, the fastest in several decades. Now we are seeing very large deficits at a time of anaemic growth.

The evolution of news for a new generation

Township folks in particular will remember the days when the first thing workers did before boarding a taxi or a train to work in the morning would be to buy a newspaper and tuck it under the arm. It was a status symbol.

Steer clear of consultants' conventions

Academics are being offered fantastic freebies to attend dubious conferences at luxurious venues. An academic life has many rewards, including conferences. They are sometimes held in the most wonderful locations and we would be the last to deny that "I have to go there before I die" considerations have sometimes prompted us to submit papers to events in far-flung places.

Onus is on whites to douse flames of racism

In the wake of the Marikana massacre, information is trickling into the public domain suggesting that the police killing of workers was more premeditated than initially thought.

Why Cyril Ramaphosa had to apologise

Cyril Ramaphosa’s apology to make an R18 million bid for a buffalo has been received with mixed reactions across the country.

Address by Gill Marcus, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank to the Rhodes University Business School

Address by Gill Marcus, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank to the Rhodes University Business School strategic conversation series on the financial crisis and the crisis of trust in the banking sector of the advanced economies

Slates crush merit in back room deals

Elections are healthy for any political organisation – but only if they are free and fair. If they are not, they can tear parties and movements apart.

Independent Media, and the battle for the soul of independent journalism

By Professor Jane Duncan In the next few weeks, a decision will be taken that will most likely change the face of South African newspaper ownership for some time to come. After years of bleeding the South African operation of Independent News and Media (INM-SA) dry, its Irish owners look set to sell it to a local bidder.

ANC needs to find ways to fix itself

By Steven Friedman IT takes much more than conference resolutions to mend an organisation. But conference decisions can show a willingness to begin to fix problems.

Inhabiting Orwell's Animal Farm

As the ANC acquires more of the accoutrements of a classic dictatorship, it is no wonder that South Africans are experiencing a growing sense of rot, writes Richard Pithouse.

How can SA stop the rot?

MANY societies before us have travelled the well worn path that winds down the slope, gentle at first but then precipitous, that runs from the bliss of a new dawn and into the stench of a rotting dream. And many societies have discovered that neither shared participation in the great drama of a national struggle nor a founding leader that, like Kwame Nkrumah, Jawaharlal Nehru or Jomo Kenyatta, matched a real stature on the world stage with an ability to express a collective sense of historical destiny at home, guarantee anything.

Losing by-elections has issues for ANC

For some years, ANC politicians have had to worry far more about each other than about voters. Is the tide turning?

Live: The Voice of SA Youth

The voices of less privileged South African youth are rarely heard in the mainstream media. Live Magazine, which recently celebrated its first birthday, aims to change that.

Reporting Mandela: Of vultures and watchdogs

Nelson Mandela is a national treasure for South Africans. Our government recently issued new banknotes with Mandela’s face on it, a daily reminder of the social, cultural and political capital that the country’s first democratic president created.

No Violence Against Women and Children: 16 Days is all you get

“16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children” came to an end on Monday, with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe announcing a new National Council Against Gender Violence.

Meeting Amidst the Rot

Many societies before us have travelled the well worn path that winds down the slope, gentle at first but then precipitous, that runs from the bliss of a new dawn and into the stench of a rotting dream.

We’re being ripped off

South African cellphone companies have been ruthless in their exploitation of their customers and it's time for something to be done about it.

Dear Mandela: Documentary lays bare the shack-dwellers' struggle

Since its inception in 2005, the housing activist group Abahlali baseMjondolo has been subjected to extraordinary levels of harassment by police and, some believe, the ANC.

In developing states, honesty is the best policy

News that SA fell in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index, to 69th place from 64th last year, has been greeted with concern.

Don’t hold breath for a jump to the left

It is almost certain that the economic resolutions at the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) Mangaung conference this month will be reported as very important and a shift to the left.

Vast improvements in pupils' national test results 'not possible'

If the annual national assessments are to be believed, SA has the fastest developing education system in the world - a highly unlikely conclusion.

SA Reconciliation Barometer 2012: The Young and The Restless

You can’t afford to ignore the young people of South Africa. For one thing, there are simply too many of them: two-thirds of the population are under 35 years old.

Fixating on personalities while forgetting policy

SOUTH African politics today appear to be primarily concerned with the forthcoming ANC elective conference in Mangaung. Repeated analyses of the fortunes of various electoral contenders and how one or other ANC constituency may decide to allocate its votes have become the standard feature in our news.

Written on the body

At Rhodes University, women annually strip off their clothes to use their bodies as message-boards to carry statements against sexual violence.