Democracy & Governance

The relationship between democracy and governance and the realisation of socio-economic rights is an important issue for debate. SACSIS seeks to understand this relationship and identify issues that act as barriers to pro-poor democracy.

Vote No

Picture credit: Ronnie Kasrils, Former Minister of Intelligence Services in South Africa Richard Pithouse - In recent days Ronnie Kasrils has been referred to as ‘a rebel, a Judas, a scoundrel’, as ‘Satan’, and as a ‘disruptive, reckless and counter-revolutionary’ figure spitting on ‘the long struggles and the sacrifices of our people’. Alistair Sparks, who is routinely introduced as ‘Respected journalist Alistair Sparks’ despite the fact that he’s often little more than an unthinking hack for conservative orthodoxies of various...

Who Are the People?

Picture credit: National Organization For Women (NOWGR) John Feffer - The people have spoken. They have elected a government. No, wait, I hear the angry shouts of a demonstration in the streets. “We are the people,” they are crying. The crowd is getting larger and larger. They are pressing against the gates of parliament and the presidential palace. And now the government has fallen. The people have spoken. I don’t blame you for being just a little confused about the different claimants to the mantle of “the people” in the...

Marikana, Nkandla & Jacob Zuma

Picture credit: President Jacob Zuma courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Richard Pithouse - Jacob Zuma will not be redeemed by a ‘Lula moment’ or ‘second transition’. His name will go down in history with Marikana and Nkandla. Different people will call the precise moment at which the conflation of the idea of the ANC with the altogether more tawdry realities of the actually existing ANC became both irrational and immoral differently. For some people the tipping point was the South African Communist Party’s embrace of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in...

Celebrating a Murderous State

Picture credit: Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and President Jacob Zuma on the red carpet outside Parliament courtesy GCIS. Richard Pithouse - The public discussion around the pageantry at the annual opening of Parliament often treats the event more like the Oscars than a serious attempt to take some measure of where we are. It is frequently received as if the dignity of the nation is invested in the quality of the spectacle produced by this performance of elite power. With politicians implicitly measured against celebrities disappointments are inevitable. This year the discussion about how people looked and dressed, a discussion...

Will This Election Offer Real Choices to Most South Africans?

Picture credit: Abahlali baseMjondolo Steven Friedman - On one level, the question seems ridiculous. All elections offer choices and all of us are allowed to vote. So many parties are likely to appear on this year’s ballot paper that the Independent Electoral Commission might face a serious printing challenge. Isn’t the fact that we can all choose who will govern us from a wide array of parties one of the great achievements of the fight against apartheid? Yes and No. The vote is an essential tool for citizens who want a share in the...

The Wages of the High Life: SA Politicians Getting Fat off the Public Purse

Picture credit: President Jacob Zuma courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Dale T. McKinley - If you hadn’t already noticed the ever-expanding waistlines of most of our politicians – a tell-tale sign of a political class feeding feverishly at the public trough - then you might have missed the latest bulging of their other ‘stomach’, salaries. Following enabling recommendations from the ‘Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers’, President Zuma signed off on the most recent salary hike for the country’s national...