Quotes

C on Court protects domestic workers

It is clear that no legitimate objective is advanced by excluding domestic workers from COIDA.  If anything, their exclusion has a significant stigmatising effect which entrenches patterns of disadvantage based on race, sex and gender…. In considering those who are most vulnerable or most in need, a court should take cognisance of those who fall at the intersection of compounded vulnerabilities due to intersecting oppression based on race, sex, gender, class and other grounds.  To allow this form of state-sanctioned inequity goes against the values of our newly constituted society namely human dignity, the achievement of equality and ubuntu.  To exclude this category of individuals from the social security scheme established by COIDA is manifestly unreasonable.

Victor AJ
Mahlangu and Another v Minister of Labour and Others (CCT306/19) [2020] ZACC 24 (19 November 2020)

On awful Jared and Invaka

“Ivanka [Trump] is no Princess Margaret and Jared [Kuschner] is not the Duke of Windsor regaling guests with amusing bon mots to a captive audience. No one wants to hear about Sarah Huckabee’s pies or Steven Bannon’s shirts.” A snob like that actually deserves a dynamic duo like them (and may shed light on how President Trump found the traction in the heartland that he did). Javanka can’t protest that they moderated the president, not after his past immoderate weeks of raging against democracy and conniving to subvert it. They can’t retroactively claim some profound but strangled ambivalence about his reign, not after her fangirl phantasmagoria at the Republican convention. No, they have made their bed. Lucky for them, the sheets have a serious thread count.

Frank Bruni
The New York Times

On the US system of government

Assuming Trump steps down, the electoral system will produce a gridlocked government—not because “the voters” or “the American people” wanted it that way, but because strategically positioned voters in small states did. The unrepresentativeness of state governments is even more extreme because of gerrymandering. And Republicans seem to have done well enough at the state level in 2020 to thwart any systemwide move to fairer representation in 2021.

David Frum
The Atlantic

On political populism in Senekal

Senekal last week had nothing to do with solutions. It was all about politicians’ testosterone. It was all about politicians’ egos. What useful idea came out of all that heat and noise generated by all those politicians in Senekal last week? There is nothing. Nothing that makes SA a better place. Nothing that leads us to a better understanding of race relations in SA after 1994. Nothing that is a solution to farm murders – many of whose victims are poorly paid, desperate black people – or a solution to the incredibly horrendous murder and crime problem in this country.

Justice Malala
Sunday Times Daily

The law is like a house

The law, like the suburban American house, is designed to order a particular pattern of relationships, many of them oriented around the heterosexual nuclear family. For real people in contemporary circumstances to inhabit the house the law built, one has to find side doors and discreet corners, while the dominant space changes little and the façade remains unaltered. The two big L.G.B.T.-rights Supreme Court victories that came before Bostock—Windsor and Obergefell—did exactly that: they carved out a place for monogamous same-sex couples who want to marry (statistically, these are more apt to be white middle-class people like the plaintiffs) in the house of the American nuclear family.

Martha Gessen
The New Yorker

Trump and Covid

The latest catastrophe, the Covid-19 pandemic, has revealed the deep untruth underlying Adam Smith’s claim that ‘individuals, without desiring or knowing it, and while pursuing each his own interest, are working for the direct realisation of the general interest.’ The truth is that individuals pursuing their own interests produce group identities that have no sense of the general interest, but are rather marked by feelings of oppression, resentment or both. Only social trust and collective action, involving not only democratic co-ordination but genuine leadership, have a chance of returning us to a sense of the collective interest.

Eli Zaretsky
London Review of Books

On the lockdown

Over the last 150 days we have learned much about the power of the habitual in post-millennial, post-apartheid South Africa. We have heard it in the grumbling, cavilling, quarrelling and grousing about the logic (or lack of) of government decrees. We have also seen it in the defiance of logic among the many bourgeois folks who mistook their entitlement for rights, whether to go running, do yoga on the beach, surf, get takeaway coffees, or to purchase items subjected to restricted trade… We saw it in the contradictory messages relayed by official government channels, in the conflict between some experts advising government, between government officials and such experts, and in the ways in which opposition parties contradicted themselves as they opposed government proclamations.

Angelo Fick
Johannesburg Review of Books

Elite Capture of land reform

The Plaas research team gathered data on 66 land reform projects across the country and found that “land reform has shifted from being pro-poor to being pro-elite”. The question, then, is: who has benefitted from land redistribution in South Africa? Who are the winners and who are the losers Elaborating on the concept of elite capture of the land, Mtero says, “[It] simply refers to the concentration of public resources in the hands of a few individuals, and usually it’s the economically powerful and the politically influential individuals. Instead of broadening access to land and reconfiguring the unequal agrarian structure, a select group of black commercial farmers is promoted in land reform.”

Moira Levy
New Frame

Police brutality during lockdown

Tyrone Moeng was only 19 when he became the fifth person to be killed by the police during the Covid-19 lockdown. Moeng’s death did not make the news and his name has been unknown until now. He was only referred to in an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) presentation to Parliament as “CAS 40/04/2020”. On the night of 13 April, the Northern Cape teenager was asleep with a friend in his shack in Sternham about 2km from Groblershoop. Police officers banged on the door. He pushed out a side panel of the shack and ran away but the Police shot him as he fled and he died from his wounds.

Anna Majavu
New Frame

Nadia Davids on coronavirus lockdown

You dream one night about walking maskless in the deep cool green of a forest, of inhaling the smell of pine, of damp rich soil and moss. When the lockdown eases and you’re allowed outside, you take your child to a public forest stream in an upscale neighbourhood with all this and more. There are tall oak trees with old knotted trunks, a field of bright, sun-dappled, dew-soaked grass. The world is more beautiful than you could have hoped or remembered. And then you see to your dismay that other people have had the same idea, that other people have wanted the outside, longed for this soft, damp green. You stare at them, willing them away. Your six year old turns to you, his new lessons learned and says, ‘There are too many people here. We should go home.’

Nadia Davids
Johannesburg Review of Books

Mrs Escobar, Henao’s record of her years as the long-suffering wife of the world’s most infamous drug trafficker, opens with a question she has often been asked: ‘How could you sleep with that monster?’ Her answer is that she loved him, and, in retrospect, that she was too afraid to leave. Henao has lived with Escobar’s legacy far longer than she lived with Escobar, who was killed in 1993. She changed her name and the names of her children (Juan Pablo is now Sebastían, Manuela is Juana and she is María Isabel), fled Colombia, went into hiding and fought lawsuits, blackmail and media attacks.

Jessica Loudis
London Review of Books

Piketty on taxes

[Thomas Piketty] shrugs: “As a professor I was already, like, in the top five per cent of the income distribution, and with copyrights I moved to the top one per cent or 0.1 per cent, so it’s not as if I was very low to begin with. I would have liked to pay 90 per cent tax on my copyright. I paid about 60 per cent but I think this is not enough. First, books are also speculative markets, so when you sell 2.5 million copies, it doesn’t mean your book is 1,000 times better than someone who sold 2,500 copies. I’m not naïve about that. I know how everybody at some point wants to read the same book – or buy the same book.

Simon Kuper
WIRED

Piketty n inheritance

It struck [Thomas Piketty] as odd the Australian Government imposed no taxes on those who had been bequeathed multi-million-dollar properties, while governments in the United States and Europe taxed the same gifts at between 40 and 45 per cent. “Japan just raised its top inheritance tax rate from 45 to 55 per cent last year,” Professor Piketty said. “This was under a right-wing government by the way and I don’t hear Angela Merkel or I didn’t hear Cameron in Britain say he wanted to reduce the inheritance tax of 40 per cent to the Australian level of 0 per cent so this [Australia] is very unusual.” The author of the best-selling book Capital in the 21st Century said while small inheritances of 100,000 or 200,000 could remain tax free, it made perfect sense to levy tax on property transfers worth millions of dollars.

ABC News
Australia

On the Public Protector again

The President explained that he deferred taking the action directed in the SARS Report because its lawfulness was being challenged and the question of whether he can take disciplinary action, absent an employment relationship, is yet to be decided. This was the correct approach by the President as it is in line with the decision in EFF I.  The President has undertaken to act as directed, should the SARS Report withstand judicial review.  The interim interdict serves an important purpose – it suspends the binding effect of the Public Protector’s remedial action until finalisation of the review proceedings.  This is not an act that undermines the Public Protector. Rather, it preserves the interdict-applicant’s rights while showing due respect to the binding powers of the Public Protector.

KHAMPEPE ADCJ
Economic Freedom Fighters v Gordhan and Others; Public Protector and Another v Gordhan and Others (CCT 232/19; CCT 233/19) [2020] ZACC 10 (29 May 2020)

Dominic Cummings, charlatan

I see the latest science Dominic Cummings knows more about than you is optometry. Half an hour late on Monday afternoon – like he’s Mariah Carey and not some spad in inside-out pants – the Islington-dwelling humanities graduate took to Downing Street’s rose garden. There, he delivered the most preposterous address to a nation since Tiger Woods stood in front of an audience, including his mother, and apologised to his wife and sponsors. The difference is that Woods had a problem with cocktail waitresses, while Cummings fucks entire public health messages in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Also, he’s not remotely sorry.

Marina Hyde
The Guardian

Collective cabinet accountability

Once the powers and functions have been assigned, the Deputy President and Ministers are responsible for the executive powers and functions assigned to them. These provisions make plain that members of the Cabinet are accountable independently and collectively to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and performance of their functions. For good measure, section 92(3) of the Constitution restates the obvious which is that, when they exercise the powers assigned to them, members of the Cabinet must act in accordance with the Constitution. This is significant because once Cabinet ministers are assigned powers and functions by the President they are not mere vassals of the President. They bear the duty and the responsibility to fulfil the duties and functions so assigned which in practice take the form of political and executive leadership of specified state departments. The Constitution makes the point that besides the duty to account to the head of the national executive, cabinet ministers bear the responsibility to report and account to Parliament on how they execute their executive duties.

Moseneke DCJ
Von Abo v President of the Republic of South Africa (CCT 67/08) [2009] ZACC 15; 2009 (10) BCLR 1052 (CC) ; 2009 (5) SA 345 (CC) (5 June 2009)

Jacueline Rose on The Plague and the plague

Today, the insistence is that ‘we’ are all in this together, even as social disparity – the frailty of that ‘we’ – has never been so obvious: in the gulf that exists between families with gardens and those housed in airless, cladded tower blocks, a distinction disregarded by police rounding on people in parks; between the jogging culture of North London and the slums of Bangladesh, where the idea of social distancing, let alone of soap and hand sanitisers in abundance, is a sick joke; between the medical care given to the prime minister, assigned an ICU bed at a time of acute shortage while still fit enough – or so we were initially told – to govern, and the negligence suffered by Thomas Harvey, a nurse from East London who had worked in the NHS for twenty years, whose family were advised he didn’t need to go to a hospital (they called four times) before he died gasping for air in his bathroom.

Jacqueline Rose
London Review of Books

Science vs politics in time of coronavirus

Both the constructive disagreement intrinsic to science and the adversarial scrutiny necessary to politics disappear in this invocation of science as the ultimate authority – this trick will become familiar in the coming months. An extraordinary emergency requires extraordinary powers; no one disagrees with that. But it is politics, not science, which grants these powers legitimacy. How long will they endure?

James Butler
London Review of Books

Acting too late on the Covid-19 virus

In the current crisis another shark has been on people’s minds. In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak quite a few commentators compared Trump to the fictional mayor in Jaws. Steven Spielberg’s mayor refuses at first to accept that a shark is responsible for the fatal attacks – he claims the first was a boating accident. When the evidence becomes hard to refute he still declines to shut the resort. Only when another swimmer gets chewed up on 4 July does he finally accept that he needs to call in the professionals. It’s all rather Trumpian. But only one politician has actually cited the actions of the mayor from Jaws as a model of crisis management, and it isn’t Trump. Boris Johnson used to tease audiences by suggesting that ‘the real hero of Jaws was the mayor, a wonderful politician.

David Runciman
London Review of Books

How to vote during an epidemic

[E]ven if the [coronavirus] is under control, many voters may be cautious about stepping out to a polling place where many people will gather. When I reached out to a wide array of voting rights advocates, election law scholars, and former election officials, I heard the same three-word solution over and over again: “vote by mail.” Mail-in ballots are a major reason turnout did not crater in the Florida and Arizona primary elections held earlier this month. And they are the most straightforward way to ensure that voters can still cast a ballot even if they are stuck at home. In the ideal regime, which already exists in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Hawaii, voters would automatically receive a ballot in the mail in the weeks before the election. These voters should also be given the option to vote in person, in case they do not receive the ballot or lose it, but no one should have to request a mail-in ballot in order to receive one.

Ian Millhiser
Vox

Con Court on the Public Protector

The Public Protector’s explanation of the meeting of 7 June 2017 with the Presidency was, and still is, woefully inadequate. … In this Court, the Public Protector has contended that the adverse findings made against her by the High Court were based on innocent errors on her part.  The Public Protector’s persistent contradictions, however, cannot simply be explained away on the basis of innocent mistakes.  This is not a credible explanation.  The Public Protector has not been candid about the meetings she had with the Presidency and the State Security Agency before she finalised the report.  The Public Protector’s conduct in the High Court warranted a de bonis propriis (personal) costs order against her because she acted in bad faith and in a grossly unreasonable manner.

Theron J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29; 2019 (9) BCLR 1113 (CC); 2019 (6) SA 253 (CC) (22 July 2019)

On elites and democracy

From a realistic perspective, the role of elites and their policies in the process of regime transformation are not so simple. Once it is recognized that all “real-existing democracies” (REDs) depend crucially on the role of representatives who act as intermediaries between the citizens and their rulers – some of whom, either directly in presidential regimes or indirectly in parliamentary ones, become the rulers – then, the difference between autocracy and democracy is bound to be less dramatic. Instead of rule by a few vs. rule by all, we have “rule by some politicians” or “polito-cracy” as the outcome. These newly empowered representatives inevitably form an elite institutionally separate from the electorate that has chosen them competitively or the electorate that has chosen them for their reputation

Philippe C. Schmitter

ON fascism and democracyDylan Riley

Now you cannot understand anything about fascist doctrine if you do not understand that their central claim was that liberalism is antidemocratic; in other words, the fascists claimed that liberal institutions cannot represent the will of the people. They further claimed that their typical institutions, particularly the party, were more effective means to represent the will of the people. So fascists were “authoritarian democrats.”

Dylan Riley
Jacobin

On delaying a trial: Porritt

The delay in this matter is totally unacceptable. This case strangely has the hallmarks of the Zuma Principle – to drag the case through even when there are manifestly no prospects. These particular tactics have since become common place in our courts. The delay of some 16 years cannot on any platform be justified. Approximately 17 judges have in one way or another dealt with this matter not on trial but on peripheral issues. The Applicant is using the old well-known tricks to cause a delay. The Applicant is now representing himself. He has dismissed the attorneys from the case and hopefully they will never reappear in this matter at any future convenient time.

Monama J
Porritt v S (SS40/2006) [2018] ZAGPJHC 45 (2 March 2018)

On the limits of religouis freedom

It is one thing for the Court to acknowledge the important role that religion plays in our public life. It is quite another to use religious doctrine as a source for interpreting the Constitution. It would be out of order to employ the religious sentiments of some as a guide to the constitutional rights of others. Between and within religions there are vastly different and at times highly disputed views on how to respond to the fact that members of their congregations and clergy are themselves homosexual. Judges would be placed in an intolerable situation if they were called upon to construe religious texts and take sides on issues which have caused deep schisms within religious bodies.

Minister of Home Affairs and Another v Fourie and Another
Sachs J, Constitutional Court

Subsequent to the above an incident occurred at HLOPHE JP’s residence in Pinelands – not where SALIE-HLOPHE J resides – involving the third party. The incident occurred during recess. SALIE-HLOPHE J was at his residence. She called me, disclosed certain information – which I elect not to set out herein – and also told me that there was an electricity outage at her house. She asked me to go to her house to attend to her daughters for safety reasons. I went to her home. She later arrived at her house. HLOPHE JP’s bodyguard drove her vehicle and another driver followed in a second vehicle. SALIE-HLOPHE J was clearly distressed and in pain. She asked me to take her to hospital and explained to me in graphic detail what had transpired at HLOPHE JP’s house. Her hand, it appears, was injured during an altercation.

Goliath DJP
Complaint against Judge President John Hlophe

On bad cartoons

As with his lord and saviour, Trump, it’s all a con. Jerm’s business strategy is to produce deliberately offensive work and then crow about how the fake news media is distorting his intent. He then turns to his followers and asks them to continue financially supporting his brave crusade. But, for a supposed satirist, he doesn’t seem especially concerned with actually making jokes or wry observations about social folly. Jerm seems to exist under a perpetual cloud of humourless outrage, endlessly frothing at the bit about teen climate activists, post-modernists, anti-fascist groups or whatever other enemy he is pathologically obsessed with at any particular moment.

Christopher McMichael
Mail & Guardian

On Denis Thatcher and drinking

Denis [Thatcher] was always more sociable than his wife. He loved long lunches at his club with his ‘chummoes’, and he had, as Moore puts it, ‘many expressions indicating the need for a drink without delay’. These included ‘blow the bugle’ and ‘let the dog see the rabbit.’

Andrew O'Hagen
London Review of Books

On Boris Johnson

Johnson used to at least be able to give a passable imitation of being Boris Johnson. Now he can’t even manage that. The gags and the mannerisms that used to be his calling card, now just fall flat. A one-trick pony whose one trick everyone knows. The surface has been stripped bare to reveal a core of molten need. Someone who craves attention and fears he wouldn’t exist without it. Someone whose narcissism leaves him devoid of empathy. Incapable of either giving or receiving love.

John Crace
The Guardian

on Margaret Thatcher

As early as 1981, one of Thatcher’s advisers complained that she bullied her weaker colleagues: “You criticise colleagues in front of each other and in front of their officials. . . . You give little praise or credit.” “If this is the best you can do,” she told Geoffrey Howe, a long-abused Cabinet minister, “then I’d better send you to hospital and deliver the statement myself.” On one occasion, when she became particularly “strident,” the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had to remind her, “I am not a member of your government, I am the head of a sovereign nation!” But she could just as easily rebuke entire nations, genders, or both at once. “You men, you’re all so weak,” she spat at some Dutch representatives after an episode of failed European negotiation.

James Wood
The New Yorker

Prince Andrew

The most riveting moment in the interview [with Prince Andrew] came at the very end. The Prince, finally acknowledging Epstein’s deeds, said, “Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.” Maitlis immediately dispensed with the inappropriate euphemism. “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender,” she replied, forcing the Prince to reckon with the brute fact. Being challenged: Prince Andrew must have found that experience unsettling and unfamiliar—even further from his rarefied experience than eating pizza, taking selfies, and recognizing the personal autonomy of members of the serving class, those people passing through whom one doesn’t need to notice.

Rebecca Mead
The New Yorker

Rugby and rainbows

The almost pathological need to place white people at the center of the national narrative about the future is a blind spot for many well-meaning white people. For too many of our white compatriots, the South African story is built around the fate of white people. This inability to see the future without insisting that the photo frame includes white images represents a strange sort of race-consciousness for a group that often professes not to care about race. The stories that count are their stories even though it is widely accepted at an intellectual level that for South Africa to thrive socially and economically, it is black people who will need to make significant progress.

Sisonke Msimang
Africa is a Country

On #MeToo

If you look at the monsters of #MeToo, it is easy to think that power, in some dark fairytale, requires the sexual sacrifice of women, and that these sacrifices should be not exactly public, but known. It’s possible that the people around these men were in thrall to their monstrosity, that it trapped them in some paralysing or exciting posture with regard to their authority. We don’t speak of men’s attraction to power as being problematic – they want to compete! – but when women are attracted to power they are styled as being complicit in their own exploitation.

Anne Enright
London Review of Books

Butler on Trump

Pundits … say that all this is a form of madness, speculating that Trump is either carrying out a very public suicide or exhibiting some weird genius for survival. But is it really either/or? We have wandered into a psychoanalytic wonderland. Elected politicians are supposed to shy away from the prospect of being shamed or found guilty of breaking the law. Yet Trump owns the things he does, not by demonstrating repentance but through a flamboyant display of shamelessness.

Judith Butler
London Review of Books

On UK politics

The main hall was barely half-full when Matt Hancock arrived on stage to give his conference speech and even emptier by the time he had finished. Under the circumstances, a kindness to everyone involved. Not least the health secretary himself. The past 24 hours have not been kind to Hancock. The Man-Boy has built his entire life on never taking a position he can’t later reverse. Often within weeks, if not days. But now he had finally made the potentially career-ending mistake of saying he believed Charlotte Edwardes to be an entirely reliable witness, without first considering the prime minister’s exemplary record with women.

John Grace
The Guardian

On roll of journalists

The unhappy fact that it is journalists, investigating organs of state and officialdom and the political class and their involvement in corrupt practices to loot the State’s resources, who, by so doing, attract the attention of powerful and influential persons who are capable of suborning the apparatus of the State to smell out their adversaries, cannot be ignored. The examples of abuse of the system have been addressed elsewhere in this judgment. Moreover, the respondents’ perspectives assume that the designated judge is not lied to and is diligent… In my view, in the absence of a rebuttal, this example illustrates a grave vulnerability in RJCA that such an apparent abuse could occur. The common cause examples of blatant lies being told to the designated judge further exacerbates the vulnerability of the system.

Sutherland J
Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism NPC and Another v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others

On Zuma and defamation

Mr Zuma mistakenly assumes that loyalty to the ANC is synonymous with loyalty to him. His assumption is both factually and constitutionally untenable. Falsely or erroneously, Mr Zuma believes that his recall as President was against the wishes of the ANC. However, it was the ANC NEC itself that insisted on Mr Zuma resigning as President of South Africa. Furthermore, it is not only the wishes of the ANC that matter. Mr Zuma offers no evidence that the people of South Africa were opposed to his recall. The people have an interest in what goes on in the ANC not least because it is the majority governing party.

Judge Pillay
Hanekom v Zuma (D6316/2019) [2019] ZAKZDHC 16 (6 September 2019)

Neo-liberals and racism

Other neoliberals may not have endorsed this kind of racism, but when demands for equality between the races threatened to result in the redistribution of property, their positions often converged with Röpke’s. Hayek publicly opposed the use of sanctions against apartheid (even an arms embargo went too far), and didn’t favour black majority rule unless the state could first be stripped of its powers to do economic mischief. He confided to his secretary that he liked blacks no better than Jews. In 1976, Milton Friedman spoke up in Newsweek for white minority rule in Rhodesia, and visited the University of Cape Town to explain to its predominantly white, segregated student body his opposition to universal suffrage in South Africa.

Alexander Zevin
London Review of Books

What Con Court said about the Public Protector

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)

Hlaudi in his own words

I do not believe in research…. You must defend the organisation. No journalist is independent. The COO has the final responsibility for news…. If people do not adhere [to his instructions], get rid of them. We cannot have people who question management…. this is the last time that we have a meeting of this kind. From now on you handle things on your level.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng
Commission of Inquiry into Interference in the Decision-making in the Newsroom of the SABC

Banality of Evil

Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.

Hannah Arendt
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

Boris Johnson upper class twit

[Boris] Johnson’s belief that Britain would continue to have a seat at the European table after Brexit suggested a profound ignorance not just of his country’s future but of its entire postwar past. This ignorance is not stupidity — Johnson is genuinely clever and, as his fictional alter ego Barlow shows, quite self-aware. It is the studied carelessness affected by a large part of the English upper class whose manners and attitudes Johnson — in reality the product of a rather bohemian bourgeois background — thoroughly absorbed. Consequences are for the little people, seriousness for those who are paid to clean up the mess.

Fintan O'Toole
The New York Review of Books

Indian democracy

In today’s India, as in many other places, power and money define the context. Those who enjoy social and economic privileges, and can summon powerful political influence, play by different rules. Vast quantities of unregulated capital let loose by the neoliberal economy slosh around to twist the machinery of laws and administration. An army of fixers and middlemen operate at every level to distort and corrupt the everyday experience of democracy, turning it into “a feast of vultures”.

Gyan Prakash
Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy's Turning Point

On open-mindedness

I find I am much prouder of the victory I obtain over myself, when, in the very ardor of dispute, I make myself submit to my adversary’s force of reason, than I am pleased with the victory I obtain over him through his weakness.

Michel de Montaigne
The Complete Essays

Langston Hughes on justice

Justice

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

Langston Hughes

On being LGBT in Russia

In March, a member of the Russian senate asked the prosecutor general to look into the issue of yoga in pretrial detention. Yoga classes, organized on the recommendation of human-rights activists, had been offered to a limited number of inmates since September. But then Alexander Dvorkin, a man who is considered the country’s preëminent expert on cults, wrote a white paper warning that yoga can lead to sexual arousal, which in turn can lead to homosexual contact between inmates.

Masha Gessen
The New Yorker

Public Protector fails to be honest

In the matter before us it transpired that the Public Protector does not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and to perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice. She failed to disclose in her report that she had a meeting with the Presidency on 25 April 2017 and again on 7 June 2017. As we have already pointed out above, it was only in her answering affidavit that she admitted the meeting on 25 April 2017, but she was totally silent on the second meeting which took place on 7 June 2017. She failed to realise the importance of explaining her actions in this regard, more particularly the last meeting she had with the Presidency. This last meeting is also veiled in obscurity if one takes into account that no transcripts or any minutes thereof have been made available. This all took place under circumstances where she failed to afford the reviewing parties a similar opportunity to meet with her. The Public Protector failed to make a full disclosure when she pretended, in her answering affidavit, that she was acting on advice received with regard to averments relating to economics prior to finalising her report.

Absa Bank Limited and Others v Public Protector and Others

EFF’s VBS looting

VBS money funded the EFF’s fourth birthday bash, paid for printing of T-shirts, transport and what was described as “Jhb Office Rental”. The source of these VBS funds was obscured when two proxy companies for Malema and Shivambu were used to effect the payments. All in all, the EFF benefited from at least R4.13-million through myriad channels. Of this total amount, Scorpio traced about R1.5-million in VBS loot which was paid directly into two EFF bank accounts. This comes despite vehement denials from the EFF leadership of having benefited from the VBS robbery. Another R454,000 was deposited directly into the bank account of popular party venue Eyadini Lounge in Umlazi (KwaZulu-Natal), paying for the EFF’s fourth birthday party in July 2017.

Pauli van Wyk
Daily Maverick

One Long Scream

Why do we expect, in situations of political injustice, that virtue will accumulate on the side of the oppressed? At the very least, Winnie Mandela does us the favour of demonstrating how misguided that belief is. Why, then, do we rush to divest the downtrodden of the ethical ambiguity that must be everyone’s birthright? It is a truism of psychoanalysis that nobody’s thoughts are pure. We are all traitors inside our heads.

Jacqueline Rose
London Review of Books

On Memory

The fallible memory is surely at the heart of writing fiction. I like to quote Graham Greene on the subject: he said something to the effect that forgetting is essential to writing fiction. Everything you forget is the ‘compost of the imagination’. Without the freedom that a faulty, inventive memory brings, novelists would all be social historians.

Ivan Vladislavić
The Johannesburg Review of Books

On Floyd Shivambyu’s alleged corruption

Floyd Shivambu told Parliament that the only income he earned in 2017 was his salary as a member of the National Assembly. No shares, no directorships, no consulting fees, no sponsorships, no land, no pension — no benefits at all. But a series of cryptic SMSes and WhatsApp messages between Shivambu and high-profile businessman Lawrence Mulaudzi paint a different picture. The messages, seen by amaBhungane, show that the deputy president of the EFF twice asked Mulaudzi for an “intervention” — clearly code for cash — including one to be paid into the account number of Grand Azania, a company controlled by Shivambu’s brother Brian. The messages suggest that in exchange Shivambu may have used his position as the EFF’s second-in-command to secure meetings and potential business deals for Mulaudzi.

Susan Comrie - Amabhungane
Daily Maverick

On corruption

Perhaps Ramaphosas gamble is that a strengthened and autonomous criminal justice system will provide the coercion to keep political allies honest. The problem with this, though, is that it implies an indiscriminate policing of corruption, one that does not avoid figures who are necessary to the stabilisation of the dominant coalition. Prosecution of such figures may be satisfying to all who oppose corruption – but it poses the distinct threat of destabilising a potentially stabilising coalition, and providing the pretext for anti-Ramaphosa mobilisation. It is not at all clear that this circle can be squared. Hence the far greater likelihood that the dominant coalition remains unstable and subject to frequent challenge, paralysis and fracturing, accompanied by violence and attempts to subvert the criminal justice system. It is not impossible that such a dynamic produces a split in the ANC.

Karl von Holdt
Society, Work & Politics Institute - WITS

On Israeli politics

The hopes invested in ‘peace’ were once immense, but it has never looked so shaky, even in America, which has underwritten these fictions for decades and rewarded Israel handsomely for paying lip service to them. American liberals no longer lament the fact that Netanyahu has taken Israel off its preordained, conciliatory course, and hope that ‘the left’ might steer it back. There is no left in Israel aside from a few heroic groupuscules. Netanyahu’s Israel – illiberal, exclusionary, racist – is now the political centre.

Adam Shatz
London Review of Books

On regulating larghe companies

Legislators are under the sway of an army of lobbyists: Google alone spent more than twenty-one million dollars on lobbying last year; together, Google, Facebook, and Amazon spent an unprecedented forty-eight million dollars, which was an increase of seventeen per cent from the previous year, much of it to stave off regulation. (A recent tweet by the digital-rights activist and developer Aral Balkan put this in perspective, claiming that Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had told him, at a private book event in SoHo, “I wake up every morning and I fight regulation, it’s what I do, it’s my job.”)

Sue Halpern
The New Yorker

During the Constitutional Court interviews… [Chief Justice] Mogoeng was in a pulpit-pummelling mood, spending a chunk of Kollapen’s almost two-hour interview raging against various devils, including the potential for “judicial capture” not with money but through an intellectual co-option. He stridently observed the danger of judges “outsourcing our thinking” and becoming “victims” of unnamed people, institutions and agendas (in the media and the academy… and the shadows, presumably) that apparently stroke the egos of judges to the point where they “do not want to be critical, you want to look like a superstar, when you are not”.

Niren Tolsi
New Frame

On Brexit

Barely had parliament said no to everything [on Brexit] last night than Mark was barrelling toward the TV cameras to give us his Mark Francois once more. His bumptiousness is now so pronounced that it has passed into the clinical realm, and comes across as a kind of exhibitionism. He is compelled to reveal his stupidity to a camera. Mark Francois is the Westminster equivalent of one of those zoo chimps, probably driven mad by confinement, who furiously masturbate in front of tourists.

Marina Hyde
The Guardian

Foucault on Humanism

What I am afraid of about humanism is that it presents a certain form of our ethics as a universal model for any kind of freedom. I think that there are more secrets, more possible freedoms, and more inventions in our future than we can imagine in humanism as it is dogmatically represented on every side of the political rainbow: the Left, the Center, the Right.

Michel Foucault
Published in Peter Fitzpatrick's "Foucault’s Law"

Diary of life in Zimbabwe

Many hundreds are savagely beaten by [Zimbabwean] security forces. Nobody will ever know the exact number, because many of the injured are too afraid to leave their homes. At least 12 people are killed. A police officer is stoned to death by protesters in Bulawayo. Over the week more than a thousand people are arrested, many of them with broken bones, some of them children as young as 14, and thrown into jails in which neither clean water nor food is provided. The tollgate at Mbudzi is burned to a shell.

Diana Stone
London Review of Books

On James Baldwin

Although a New Yorker and a Europhile globetrotter, in some sort of exile in and out of America, James Baldwin’s deep love and curiosity for the South—and with it, for the blues—is well documented. At the heart of his literary and ideological aesthetic stirs the blues and Southern speech patterns… Baldwin wrote with the sort of mellifluous beauty that was at once Harlem bred, Southern rooted, and ultimately ethereally global—and thus, ironically, local. Local to where his reader and listener and watcher found themselves at any particular time. We are drawn from anywhere at any moment into any of his works and, by extension, his presence.

Bongani Madondo
Johannesburg Review of Books

On the Oscars

This year’s Oscars were the “Jurassic Park” edition: Hollywood’s dinosaurs have come back full force from their welcome obsolescence and laid waste to their own playground. In 1990, “Driving Miss Daisy,” a film of benighted attitudes toward racial comity, won Best Picture—beating out “Do the Right Thing” even before entering the auditorium, because Spike Lee’s film wasn’t nominated. This year, Lee had a film nominated —“BlacKkKlansman”— and it was beaten out for Best Picture by “Green Book,” a movie that’s at least as backward as “Driving Miss Daisy” regarding the culture and politics of the Jim Crow era, twenty-nine years later.

Richard Brody
The New Yorker

On the stand-off in Venezuela

But [Venezuelan President] Maduro’s intransigence has been more than matched by that of the opposition. Its leaders are fervently committed to overturning chavismo, driven by a visceral loathing that often comes with a strong dose of racism. The first direct challenges to Maduro’s rule came in early 2014, with a series of protests, the guarimbas, led mainly by the middle class and students. Then, in December 2015, the opposition gained control of the National Assembly: the first time it had a majority there since Chávez took office in 1999. With this, an institutional deadlock came into being that has lasted to this day: chavistas are in charge of the executive and – since Maduro designated a new supreme court in 2015 – the judiciary; but the opposition has the legislature, and refuses to recognise the authority of the other two branches of government.

Tony Wood
London Review of Books

Mazzotti confesses

According to Jacques Pauw‚ Mazzotti said in an affidavit to SARS on May 6 2014 that, while discussing Carnilinx’s tax bill‚ reportedly worth about R600m‚ he was a “duly authorised representative of Carnilinx”. Mazzotti described in the affidavit how SARS’ officials were bribed and spoke of fraud‚ money laundering‚ tobacco smuggling and tax evasion. “I accept‚ and so does Carnilinx and all its directors‚ that this was unlawful and morally wrong … The cash received was utilised to pay the people referred to and the balance was retained by the three of us in equal proportions. I point out‚ however‚ that a substantial amount of this money was used by the three of us as company expenses‚ engaging in expensive dinners‚ entertaining business people‚ politicians and other people‚” read the affidavit.

Nico Gous
Business Day

On Brazil

Meanwhile, by refusing to engage in the traditional do ut des of Brazil’s pork barrel politics, and purging the government of its most blatantly compromised ministers, Dilma was antagonising forces in Congress on which her majority in the legislature depended, for whom corruption was a condition of existence. After close-grained analysis of the fractions of capital, Singer situates these tensions in a striking overview of the longue durée of the party structure in Brazil, from the postwar period to the present… Singer dubs this last ‘the party of the interior’, an amoeba-like force with no distinct ideological identity, slithering in whichever direction temporary power and emoluments, democratic or undemocratic, lay. Twenty years later, after the military stepped down, this trio essentially reappeared in the shape of the PSDB, the PT and PMDB. Neither of the first two could govern without the parasitic assistance of the third, with its wide-flung capillary network of local office-holders and nearly continuous control of the powerful presidency of the Senate. Any hint of republicanism was anathema to it.

Perry Anderson
London Review of Books

On State Capture

On the face of it, the Bosasa story sounds all too familiar – except this time, it is not three brothers from India who found themselves friends to a president, but rather an Eastern Cape businessman with struggle credentials and cronies with no qualms. His name is Gavin Watson. Watson has close links to the ANC thanks to struggle credentials that involved the Watson brothers refusing to play for all white rugby teams pre-1994. Watson was not alone. His right hand man for 17 years was Angelo Agrizzi, a boisterous, flashy Italian with a penchant for fast Ferraris. A host of other executives, each with their own connections to the political realm joined along the way, opening more doors.  Now Agrizzi is pulling the plug. He is finally going to speak out about his years at Bosasa – the millions allegedly paid in bribes, the covert operations to destroy evidence to keep government investigators in the dark and how a Krugersdorp company that started out providing catering at mine hostels became a billion rand tender machine.

Kyle Cowan
News24

How the internet has changed the news

The internet hasn’t so much changed people’s relationship to news as altered their self-awareness in the act of reading it. Before, we were isolated recipients of the news; now, we are self-consciously members of groups reacting to news in shared ways. Marvellously, this facilitates solidarity for the truly oppressed, for campaigners, for those with minority interests. But it also means that the paranoid, the suspicious, the xenophobic and the conspiracy-minded know they’re not alone. They’re conscious of themselves as a collective, as an audience, weeping, cheering, heckling and screaming from the safety of the darkness over the stalls, occasionally pulling on a mask to jump onto the stage and pull down the trousers of the performers or to start a false panic that the theatre is on fire.

James Meek
London Review of Books

On Sartre

In the spring of 1961, Frantz Fanon wrote to his publisher in Paris to suggest that he ask Jean-Paul Sartre for a preface to his anti-colonial manifesto, The Wretched of the Earth. ‘Tell him that every time I sit down at my desk, I think of him.’ For revolutionary intellectuals in the Third World, Sartre seemed miraculously uncontaminated by the paternalism – and hypocrisy – that gave the white left such a bad reputation. While intellectuals in the orbit of the French Communist Party were vacillating over the Algerian war of independence, he gave his unconditional support to the rebels, a stance that nearly got him killed by an OAS bomb planted outside his flat. He contributed fiery prefaces not only to Fanon’s book, but to Léopold Sédar Senghor’s anthology of Négritude poets and to Albert Memmi’s Portrait of the Coloniser.

Adam Shatz
London Review of Books

Constitutional Court on African Women

African women under apartheid were systemically disenfranchised in a number of ways.  It is important to recognise that the pervasive effects of patriarchy meant that women were often excluded even from seemingly gender-neutral spaces.  The perception of women as the lesser gender was, and may still be, a widely-held societal view that meant that even where legislation did not demand the subjugation of women, the practices of officials and family members were still tainted by a bias towards men.  The prioritisation of men is particularly prevalent in spheres of life that are seen as stereotypically masculine, such as labour, property, and legal affairs.

Rahube v Rahube and Others
Constitutional Court of South Africa

On Brazil

Globally, Bolsonaro’s imminent ascension to Brazil’s Presidency has appended Brazil to the growing ranks of nations ruled by authoritarian populists who openly espouse bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, and anti-immigrant views, as well as violence as a means of problem-solving. Bolsonaro, a far-right extremist who has spent years shouting insults from the fringes of Brazil’s politics at women, blacks, gays, and leftists while lauding the use of torture and calling for a restoration of military rule, now represents the new mainstream.

Jon Lee Anderson
The New Yorker

On rape survivors

Our judicial processes should not allow further victimisation to occur in the courtroom. Victims of sexual and gender-based violence are often faced with multiple levels of stigma and prejudice at a family and community level. These are further entrenched in police processes and courtroom battles. Those victims who are brave enough to overcome all the doubt and fear to report their cases, face further victimisation by the police. Police officers are generally perceived as being indifferent to the plight of women who are victims of sexual and gender-based violence. These men (and women) are usually the first figures victims encounter in the judicial system, yet many victims relate how unsavoury these encounters were for them.

Nonsikelelo Ncube
Business Day

Ten Days in Trump’s America

In New York State, Republican Chris Collins – the first congressman to endorse Trump for president – is broadcasting a television ad showing his Democratic challenger, Nate McMurray, speaking in Korean, juxtaposed with a photo of Kim Jong-Un, and claims that McMurray is offering to outsource American jobs. It ends: ‘You can take Nate McMurray at his word.’ (McMurray has served on various US-Korea government trade panels and is married to a Korean. Collins has been indicted and is awaiting trial for insider trading carried out in text messages he sent during a Republican congressional picnic on the White House lawn.)

Eliot Weinberger
London Review of Books

On wives standing by their man

The humiliations of a wife who “stands by” her husband are well known to Americans, but the momentum of #MeToo has made the role particularly vexed. A wife whose husband has behaved badly is presumed to be a conscious or unconscious accomplice, a delusional victim, or, most injuriously, a fool. How did she not know? The sexism of our culture still makes it beyond comprehension that we could hold a man accountable for his misdeeds without also doling out some blame to the caretakers around him, who we believe should be responsible for his moral maintenance.

Doreen St. Félix
The New Yorker

If Facebook were a country, it would have the largest population on earth. More than 2.2 billion people, about a third of humanity, log in at least once a month. That user base has no precedent in the history of American enterprise. Fourteen years after it was founded, in Zuckerberg’s dorm room, Facebook has as many adherents as Christianity.
A couple of years ago, the company was still revelling in its power. By collecting vast quantities of information about its users, it allows advertisers to target people with precision—a business model that earns Facebook more ad revenue in a year than all American newspapers combined.

Evan Osnos
The New Yorker

Two years ago, the ESPN host Bomani Jones appeared on the network’s morning show wearing a T-shirt that seemed, at first glance, to bear the logo of Cleveland’s baseball team, but, in place of the trademark cursive “Indians,” the shirt read “Caucasians”; the crude caricature of a Native American had also been altered to look like a grinning white man. The reaction was swift: ESPN demanded that he cover up the shirt while on air; many white people criticized Jones’s “racism” on social media. The point was easy to discern: Native Americans continue to be depicted in derogatory ways and relegated to a kind of racist stereotype in a manner that many white people would find intolerable were it directed at them.

Jelani Cobb
The New Yorker

On white fragility

Self-righteousness becomes a seductive complement to “White Fragility,” as gin is to a mystery novel. (“I would never,” I thought, when DiAngelo described the conversation in which her friend dismissed a predominantly black neighborhood as “bad,” unsafe.) Yet the point of the book is that each white person believes herself the exception, one of very few souls magically exempt from a lifetime of racist conditioning. DiAngelo sets aside a whole chapter for the self-indulgent tears of white women, so distraught at the country’s legacy of racist terrorism that they force people of color to drink from the firehose of their feelings about it.

Katy Waldman
The New Yorker

Mamdani on the African University

It is striking, in the postcolonial era, how little the modern African university has to do with African institutions. It draws its inspiration from the colonial period and takes as its model the discipline based, gated community that maintained a distinction between clearly defined groups: administrators, academics and fee-paying students. The origins of this arrangement lay in 19th-century Berlin, and Humboldt University, founded in 1810 in the aftermath of Napoleon’s conquest of Prussia. The African university makes its appearance later in the 19th century. At the southern end of the continent, colleges were started from scratch – Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Witwatersrand. In the north, existing institutions such as al-Azhar in Cairo, a centre of Islamic scholarship, were ‘modernised’ and new disciplines introduced.

Mahmood Mamdani
London Review of Books

Belgium racism

In Belgium there is little to no self-reflection when it comes to essentializing players. In a recent column in quality newspaper, De Standaard, its editor Steven de Foer compared Vincent Kompany to a chocolate, “black on the outside but white on the inside” when discussing to his leadership skills and intelligence. De Foer also included this: “[Kompany is] still African when it comes to being late to practice”. De Foer’s article was supposed to be an in-depth analyses to figure out why this diverse team of players worked so well together as a team. Instead of saying something interesting about the diversity in Belgium’s national team or doing some real analyses about the skills of the players, he went the route of a 19th century anthropologist. Comparing a black player to a candy bar, deciding that another star, Eden Hazard, is kind of African because he likes a joke or making it the mixed players’ job to be a “bridge between cultures.”

Heleen Debeuckelaere
Africa is a Country

On the World Cup

In the fallout from the 2010 bidding round, the Qataris complained that they were taking the heat for a process that had also rewarded Putin and his kleptocratic regime. Why weren’t the Russians the ones in the firing line? Part of Qatar’s problem was that the Americans, from whom they had effectively stolen the tournament, began shortly afterwards to look into Fifa’s finances. A US Department of Justice inquiry into Warner, which ended up charging him with ‘wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering’, triggered the exposure of a whole raft of dodgy practices, including a proposed payment of $2 million from Fifa’s chairman, Sepp Blatter, to his deputy and anointed successor, Platini, which eventually led to the resignation of both men.

David Runciman
London Review of Books

Con Court on racism

Racism and racial prejudices have not disappeared overnight, and they stem, as demonstrated in our history, from a misconceived view that some are superior to others.  These prejudices do not only manifest themselves with regards to race but it can also be seen with reference to gender discrimination.  In both instances, such prejudices are evident in the workplace where power relations have the ability “to create a work environment where the right to dignity of employees is impaired”.

Theron J
Rustenburg Platinum Mine v SAEWA obo Bester and Others (CCT127/17) [2018] ZACC 13 (17 May 2018)

On Afriforum’s denial of the past

In its founding affidavit Afriforum repeatedly refers to the Municipality’s attempts at correcting “so-called ‘historical injustices of the past’”.  It supplies evidence that the old street names were of: “…prominent figures in history (most have made their contributions long before the so-called apartheid), city fathers and legal practitioners (including attorneys, advocates, magistrates and even a judge).  It is clear that these people played a direct and positive role in the city as it exists today. It would therefore be grossly inaccurate to suggest that these persons have a direct connection with the so-called historical injustices.” So-called!  This embodies the kind of insensitivity that poisons our society. There were historical injustices.  Apartheid was all too real.  And it was profoundly pernicious.  These facts are not “so-called” figments of black people’s imagination. Pretoria was created as the capital of an Afrikaner Republic that expressly subordinated black people.

Cameron J and Froneman J
City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality v Afriforum and Another

Corruption and traditional leaders

[The people of North West] are angry about the threat to their livelihoods posed by alliances between the provincial government and traditional leaders, and the corruption they believe it has brought in its train. And, while the new ANC leadership might be ready to remove the premier, this is an issue they prefer to duck. In several provinces, traditional leaders in alliance with provincial governments are using their powers over land to enrich themselves at the expense of small farmers and their dependants. They do this by making deals with private companies that allow the firms to use the land, often for mining, in exchange for money which goes to local notables, not the citizenry.

Steven Friedman
Business Day

Because in these books [Rachel Cusk] is very specifically exploiting the public conversations of men, which they consider genial and beneficent, but which women very often consider a burden or an intrusion. It is an inversion of that public spectacle: a man bending a woman’s ear. She bends the ear now, on the page. In fact the talkingness of men is something I have always counted on; I love it as perhaps only someone raised Catholic can love it. Men are helpless in the face of female listening. If you sit for it, as for a portrait, they will tell you anything. There is a price for these encounters, though.

Patricia Lockwood
London Review of Books

Section 27 on Komape judgment

While we welcome the structural interdict to provide adequate and safe sanitation for learners in the Limpopo Province, we are at the same time extremely disappointed that the suffering of the Komape family and the circumstances of Michael ‘s death has been insufficiently recognised and acknowledged. It is our view that this is a missed opportunity for developing the law in respect of constitutional damages.  The failure to award damages in this case stands in contrast to the damages that were awarded by the retired Deputy Chief Justice Mosenke to the families of the Life Esidimeni victims for the callous treatment of the victims in that case.

Section 27
On the judgment in the case of Michael Komape

WHAT THE TRC SAID ABOUT STRATCOM

From 1984, following the appointment of Brigadier Gerrit Erasmus as head of the Security Branch, Stratcom actions became less random and more co-ordinated. This shift coincided with the formal adoption of Stratcom as state policy in 1984 and the establishment of a sub-committee Tak Strategiese Kommunikasie (TSK – Strategic Communications Branch) as part of the Secretariat of the State Security Council, with representatives from the Security Branch, Military Intelligence and the NIS. Former Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok testified that Stratcom was an official policy of the government and conceded that it was engaged in unlawful actions. An example of a Stratcom action, he told the Amnesty Committee, might include spreading disinformation about an individual in order to cause people to suspect him of being an agent or even attack him.
Truth and Reconcialiation Commission Report
Volume 6

S v Shaik

Not only was that evidence exhaustively examined and weighed by the trial court but it is clear in the overall picture that the underlined words were in the nature of an understatement. One finds elsewhere in the judgment, when specific issues were resolved in favour of the State, passages in which his evidence was unmistakably said to be rejected as false. Obviously there was much in his evidence that was not only believable standing alone but there were parts that were supported by documentary evidence or circumstance. The real issue on this count is whether it is a reasonable inference (not just a possible inference) that the payments made to Zuma or on his behalf were prompted by friendship, or were just loans, and in neither event made with the criminal intent alleged in the charge. In that regard Shaik’s credibility is crucial. Having deliberated painstakingly, the trial court rejected Shaik’s evidence on that issue and held that the inference referred to was not a reasonable one and could therefore be ruled out.

S v Shaik and Others
Supreme Court of Appeal

On sexuality and prejudice

Can we imagine predominantly straight dating apps like OKCupid or Tinder creating a web series that encouraged the straight ‘community’ to confront its sexual racism or fatphobia? If that is an unlikely prospect, and I think it is, it’s hardly because straight people aren’t body fascists or sexual racists. It’s because straight people – or, I should say, white, able-bodied cis straight people – aren’t much in the habit of thinking there’s anything wrong with how they have sex. By contrast, gay men – even the beautiful, white, rich, able-bodied ones – know that who we have sex with, and how, is a political question.

Amia Srinivasan
London Review of Books

On This Land is Ours

The Land is Ours is Ngcukaitobi’s first book, and this reviewer sincerely urges that it should not be his last. His suggestion that the answers to the land question and restitution lie within the confines of the law, even if the law itself alone is insufficient for justice, is a useful provocation, especially to those with ready access to the levers of law. However, in the meantime, so-called land invasions by poor, landless Black people continue, as do their evictions by the state’s anti-land-invasion units, and the destruction of the homes they’ve made on the vast tracts of open land owned by individuals, companies and the state.

Perfect Hlongwane.
Johannesburg Review of Books

The dangers of revolution

In the spring of 1794 Robespierre stormed into the Convention and denounced Cloots for his links to the Vandenyver banking family, who were accused of distributing British gold in France. ‘Can we regard a German baron as a patriot?…’ Cloots’s origins had caught up with him and he was guillotined before a large and spiteful crowd. What happened to Cloots exemplifies some of the elements of revolutionary politics: the capacity for social reinvention, as well as its dangers; the quicksilver mutation of policies into their opposites; and the ineluctable gobbling-up of radicals by insatiable Mother Revolution.

Tom Stammers
London Review of Books

Jacqueline Rose on Sexcual Harassment

Sexual harassment, we might then say, is the great male performative, the act through which a man aims to convince his target, not only that he is the one with the power – which is true – but also that his power and his sexuality are one and the same thing. As Judith Butler has argued, the performative is always melancholic, since the performer knows the role they are enacting is no more than skin deep (‘melancholic’ also because of all the other buried and unconsciously grieved sexual lives one might have led).

Jacqueline Rose
London Review of Books

On the corrupt Ace Magashule

Controversial ANC secretary general and Free State Premier Ace Magashule is implicated in a dodgy property deal with the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) that saw his long-lost daughter score R9 million for doing nothing. … With the previous business shut down, the FDC could now start the process of transferring the property to Magashule’s daughter. Two sources familiar with the FDC’s handling of this deal claim that “the big man”, a reference to Magashule, had exerted pressure on FDC staff to ensure that Malembe’s trust became the property’s new owner. “When the FDC’s handling of this deal was questioned internally, FDC staff were told to keep out of it, seeing as the big man was behind it,” says one such source. Magashule denies this claim.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh
News24

On Catharine MacKinnon

More troubling to my mind, but broached far less often, is the question of whether it makes sense for feminists to attempt to change the world by changing the law. The worry isn’t so much that strengthening the hand of a patriarchal state can only be bad for women; MacKinnon doesn’t want to strengthen the state exactly, but to adjust the law so that state power is exercised in a way that promotes sex equality instead of maintaining and entrenching male dominance. Rather, the concern is that it’s possible that no amount of adjustment could convert the law – or at least, the law in a liberal capitalist state – into a vehicle of genuine emancipation for women.

Lorna Finlayson
London Review of Books

The role of MPs

The fact that members of the Assembly assume office through nomination by political parties ought to have a limited influence on how they exercise the institutional power of the Assembly.  Where the interests of the political parties are inconsistent with the Assembly’s objectives, members must exercise the Assembly’s power for the achievement of the Assembly’s objectives.  For example, members may not frustrate the realisation of ensuring a government by the people if its attainment would harm their political party.  If they were to do so, they would be using the institutional power of the Assembly for a purpose other than the one for which the power was conferred.  This would be inconsistent with the Constitution.

Jafta J (majority judgment)
Economic Freedom Fighters and Others v Speaker of the National Assembly and Another (CCT76/17) [2017] ZACC 47 (29 December 2017)

High Court on conflict of interest

We cannot agree with either the President’s submissions or those of Adv Abrahams. In a rights-based order it is fundamental that a conflicted person cannot act; to act despite a conflict is self-evidently to pervert the rights being exercised as well as the rights of those affected. And section 96(2)(b) [of the South African Constitution] makes that clear beyond the pale. If conflicted, the individual simply cannot act, is “unable” to act, whether section 90 was there or not.

Dunstan Mlambo
CCorruption Watch and Another v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others

On cruising and queer culture

“Cottages” (or: “Tearooms”) were no heaven, granted. But they were no hell either. Mischief in public toilets left more traces in vice squad logbooks than in high literature. Within the gay community, they remain more a source of shame than pride. And yet, these public aedicules, which sheltered the escapades of so many gay men, transvestites, prostitutes and libertines, were also sites of unbridled freedom. Within these atypical places of transience and sociability, social differences were blurred and otherwise separated cultures briefly mixed. Despite being disparaged as sleazy and dirty, they allowed for immediate, anonymous sexual contacts. They were a godsend to those who could not entertain at home and expose their sexual proclivities to the outside world.

Marc Martin
On an exhibition - "Fenster zum Klo – Public Toilets & Private Affairs" - at the Schwules museum in Berlin

Tim Noakes being defensive and playing the victim

It was a kangaroo court … that’s why I withdrew. I knew they had the big guns there waiting to fire so I limited myself in getting into the debate. I have an international reputation to protect. The debate jumped on the bandwagon of free intellectual debate as part of UCT’s centenary celebrations, but it was actually a kangaroo court . I knew it had one goal – to expose me and shut me up. There had been that demeaning and unprofessional letter to the Cape Times from my colleagues at Groote Schuur [Hospital], so I knew there was a body of opinion out there looking for my blood…. whenever I was criticised, they clapped. That’s when I said, OK, I’m cutting my losses and not saying anything more. I can read an audience. The moment I said something, it didn’t matter whether I was right or wrong, I could see the hostility was rising. I decided the audience was not mature enough, so I’m out of here.’

Tim Noakes, victim
South African Medical Journal

Indentity politics

Might it not be that ‘identity politics’ is just what politics has become – or what it always was, in a way that has only now become impossible to ignore? The formal structure of US politics may still be binary, Republican v. Democrat, and it is a binary world of liberals and conservatives that underpins Lilla’s book, but the reality, as in all world democracies, is that politics is no longer one-dimensional, conducted along a left-right axis, but multi-dimensional.

James Meek
London Review of Books

President Zuma on State Capture

There’s no Parliament that’s captured, there’s no executive that’s captured. There’s only individuals. But they’re always talking about state capture. That’s political propaganda…. When I established the commission of inquiry, one of the things they will have to clarify is, what is state capture? I’m sure I’d be very keen to know. Is that phrase correct?

President Jacob Zuma
"Interview" on ANN7

On the Presidents Keepers

The revelations in Pauw’s book [All the President’s Keepers: Those keeping Zuma out of prison and in power] have already made the rounds, in particular allegations of President Zuma’s refusal to file tax returns; and that he was paid a million rand a month for a shadow job during his first months in office. The 140 dud cheques Zuma supposedly wrote, the shipments of cash from a Russian mining company, and the need constantly to siphon money from benefactors, including Nelson Mandela, round out a portrait, by Pauw, of a dark parasite.

Imraan Coovadia
Johannesburg Review of Books

On sexual harrassment

So why have Harvey Weinstein’s alleged transgressions been taken so much more seriously? One answer, it seems, has less to do with the accused than with the accuser. Weinstein’s sexual-harassment scandal is unlike almost every other in recent memory because many of his accusers are celebrities, with status, fame, and success commensurate to his own. Sexual harassment is about power, not sex, and it has taken women of extraordinary power to overcome the disadvantage that most accusers face.

Jayne Mayer
The New Yorker

On the family

Think of that entity “the family,” an impacted social space in which all of the following are meant to line up perfectly with each other: a surname, a sexual dyad, a legal unit based on state-regulated marriage, a circuit of blood relationships, a system of companionship and succor, a building, a proscenium between “private” and “public”, an economic unit of earning and taxation, the prime site of economic consumption, the prime site of cultural consumption, a mechanism to produce, care for, and acculturate children, a mechanism for accumulating material goods over several generations, a daily routine, a unit in a community of worship, a site of patriotic formation, and of course the list could go on.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
What's Queer?

What is Queer

That’s one of the things that “queer” can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically. The experimental linguistic, epistemological, representational, political adventures attaching to the very many of us who may at times be moved to describe ourselves as (among many other possibilities) pushy femmes, radical faeries, fantasists, drags, clones, leatherfolk, ladies in tuxedoes, feminist women or feminist men, masturbators, bulldaggers, divas, Snap! queens, butch bottoms, storytellers, transsexuals, aunties, wannabes, lesbian-identified men or lesbians who sleep with men, or . . . people able to relish, learn from, or identify with such.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
What's Queer?
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