Politics and Governance

Karel | Nov 20, 2018
Deepening Democracy: Petitions - What are they and how do they work?
Kimera Chetty
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May 22, 2019

The Sixth Parliament officially sits on 22 May 2019, and sets in motion renewed opportunities to engage our public representatives and hold them accountable to their Constitutional mandate. The HSF will consider these questions through a series of briefs exploring how to deepen our democracy. This brief explains what petitions are, and how to use them.

The 2019 Election
Charles Simkins
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Mar 25, 2019

The Helen Suzman Foundation is a non-partisan organization seeking to promote constitutional democracy. This means that we shall not comment on party political policies or election activities.

The Election Timetable
Charles Simkins
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Mar 07, 2019

The Electoral Commission published the election timetable on 28 February. This brief sets out its main features and makes some suggestions.

Understanding water issues and challenges IV: Water infrastructure assessment
Michelle Toxopeüs
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Feb 06, 2019

The condition of water resource and supply infrastructure influences government’s ability to perform the functions prescribed by the National Water Act and the Water Services Act. This brief discusses the expert assessment of water infrastructure in South Africa and highlights key challenges to effectively managing it.

Understanding water issues and challenges III: Water boards and bulk water services
Michelle Toxopeüs
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Feb 06, 2019

Water boards are instrumental in providing bulk water services across the country. But failing governance, financial mismanagement and unpaid debt are severely hindering their ability to perform their functions effectively. These challenges, and the influence of municipal and departmental governance on the functioning of water boards, are discussed in this brief.

The state of sanitation and wastewater treatment services in South Africa
Michelle Toxopeüs
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Feb 05, 2019

Effective sanitation services contribute significantly to reducing health risks and protecting the environment. But accessing safe and dignified sanitation facilities has been a long-standing problem for many South Africans. This brief positions the duty to provide sanitation and wastewater treatment services in the context of water services generally, and evaluates the current condition of these services.

The institutional structure for delivering water services
Michelle Toxopeüs
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Feb 05, 2019

The Constitution affords everyone the right to access sufficient water. One way in which the Water Services Act gives effect to this right is by establishing the institutional framework necessary to ensure water services are delivered. This brief sets out the institutional structure established by the Act, and provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities designated to each institution.

The institutional structure of water resource management
Michelle Toxopeüs
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Feb 05, 2019

In an effort to effectively manage South Africa’s water resources, the National Water Act makes provision for establishing water institutions that aim to promote equitable and sustainable use of water. This brief sets out the institutional structure to manage South Africa’s water resources, and provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities assigned to each institution.

Should The National Development Plan Be Revised?
Charles Simkins
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Feb 05, 2019

National Development Plans are revised periodically, often at five year intervals. Although our 'National Development Plan 2030' (NDP) was launched in 2012, it has not been revised. This brief shows that the illusion that the goals of the NDP are achievable cannot be sustained for a minute. A rethink is due.

China’s Loans to South Africa - Brief V
Charles Collocott
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Jan 24, 2019

This is the final brief in a series of five that takes a look at South Africa’s recent loans from China; it looks at why the BRICS Bank was not used, on what basis government is able to refuse disclosing further information on the loans, and finishes with a conclusion for the series.

China’s Loans to South Africa - Brief IV
Charles Collocott
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Jan 24, 2019

This is the fourth brief in a series of five that takes a look at South Africa’s recent loans from China; it is a summary of the lessons learned from the experiences of the six countries analysed, which have also taken on Chinese debt.

China’s Loans to South Africa - Brief III
Charles Collocott
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Jan 22, 2019

This is the third brief in a series of five that takes a look at South Africa’s recent loans from China; it looks at the experiences other countries have had with Chinese debt, namely Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

China’s Loans to South Africa - Brief II
Charles Collocott
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Jan 22, 2019

This is the second brief in a series of five that takes a look at South Africa’s recent loans from China; it looks at the experiences other countries have had with Chinese debt, namely Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Argentina.

China’s Loans to South Africa - Brief I
Charles Collocott
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Jan 22, 2019

This is the first brief in a series of five that takes a look at South Africa’s recent loans from China. This brief is an overview of South Africa’s debt situation, how the loans from China fit into this, and why we need to look at the experiences other countries have had with Chinese debt.

Zimbabwe II - Politics
Charles Simkins
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Jan 09, 2018

The first brief in this series outlined key demographic and economic conditions and dynamics. This brief considers their political implications.

Political Party Funding VII - The Treasury Bombshell
Charles Simkins
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Sep 12, 2017

This brief outlines the presentation by the National Treasury on 1 September 2017 to the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee on the Funding of Political Parties and considers its implications.

Political Party Funding VI - Civil Society Submissions
Rafael Friedman
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Sep 07, 2017

This is the final brief of a six part series. The first provided a background to the current debate on political party funding. The second brief dealt with the legal position, and the third suggested a framework within which law might develop. The fourth dealt with international experience. This brief deals with submissions made to Parliament by civil society organisations, following on from the fifth brief which looked at political parties’ submissions.

Political Party Funding V - Political Party Submissions
Rafael Friedman
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Sep 07, 2017

This is the fifth brief of a six part series. The first provided a background to the current debate on political party funding. The second brief dealt with the legal position, and the third suggested a framework within which law might develop.

POLITICAL PARTY FUNDING IV - THE GLOBAL PICTURE
Rafael Friedman
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Aug 31, 2017

This is the fourth part of a six brief series. The first provided a background to the current debate on political party funding, the second described with the legal position and the third suggested a framework within which law might develop. This brief deals with international experience. The fifth will deal with submissions made to Parliament by political parties and the sixth with submissions made by civil society organisations.

POLITICAL PARTY FUNDING III - THE IMPLICATIONS WHICH FOLLOW FROM OUR LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Ryan Holtes
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Aug 31, 2017

This is the third part of a six brief series. The first provided a background to the current debate on political party funding, and the second dealt with the legal position. This brief suggests a framework within which law might develop. The fourth deals with international experience. The fifth will deal with submissions made to Parliament by political parties and the sixth with submissions made by civil society organisations.

POLITICAL PARTY FUNDING II -THE LEGAL BACKGROUND
Ryan Holtes
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Aug 24, 2017

This is the second brief of a six part series. The first part provides a background to the current debate on political party funding. This brief deals with the legal position, and the third suggests a framework within which law might develop. The fourth deals with international experience. The fifth will deal with submissions made to Parliament by political parties and the sixth with submissions made by civil society organisations.

POLITICAL PARTY FUNDING I - HISTORY AND THE CURRENT POSITION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Rafael Friedman
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Aug 24, 2017

This is the first brief of a six part series. It provides a background to the current debate on political party funding. The second brief deals with the legal position, and the third suggests a framework within which law might develop. The fourth deals with international experience. The fifth will deal with submissions made to Parliament by political parties and the sixth with submissions made by civil society organisations.

ARE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES IN CHARGE OF SOUTH AFRICA?
Charles Simkins
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Jun 01, 2017

In an increasingly fractious political environment, the ANC’s draft policy document on Peace and Stability includes bold claims about interference from foreign intelligence services in domestic South African politics. In addition, the document labels a wide range of groups as accomplices in this plot. This brief, by Charles Simkins, takes issue with this characterisation and looks at why these accusations are concerning for South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

UNDERSTANDING THE ANC'S POLICY FORMULATION PROCESS
Anele Mtwesi
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Jun 01, 2017

This brief deals with the way in which ANC policy is developed. Further briefs will consider the substance of recently released draft policy documents for the June National Policy Conference.

TREASON IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Rafael Friedman
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Jun 01, 2017

Over the past few years allegations of treason have become more regular in South Africa. While there has only been one major treason case in the 23 years since the end of Apartheid, there have recently been a number of accusations of treason levelled against a variety of individuals, ranging from student activists to senior politicians. These allegations can be seen in the context of the implementation of treason law in southern Africa, with a number of pending treason cases in other countries that have been seen as politically motivated.

Do state-owned enterprises pose a threat to Government’s finances?
Charles Collocott
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Mar 09, 2017

As a result of the publicity which several state-owned enterprises have enjoyed recently, especially from a governance and finance perspective, the logical question is to what degree they pose a real danger to the health of the State’s finances. This brief by Charles Collocott is based on the detailed Budget Review, as published by National Treasury on the date of the budget speech on 22 February 2017.

ACSA cleans up its act but is Government interfering?
Anton van Dalsen
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Feb 16, 2017

This brief sketches the background to attempts by the ACSA Board to address alleged fraud and corruption - and in reaction, the Minister of Transport attempts to fire almost half the Board.

IN DEFENCE OF PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Charles Simkins
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Sep 20, 2016

This brief looks at the electoral task team report and its relevance with regards to the outcomes of the latest local government elections.

Golden Handshakes
Anele Mtwesi
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Sep 20, 2016

This brief looks at the extent of golden handshakes in the public sector and legislation governing financial misconduct.

POPULISM
Charles Simkins
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Jun 28, 2016

This Brief is the first in a two part series and this Brief discusses populism.

Governing the people: the slide into totalitarianism
Matthew Kruger and Francis Antonie
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Nov 12, 2015

The recent statement by President Zuma that the ANC, not the country, comes first is not just, or only, an ordinary political assertion that the ANC is best suited to govern the people. It is also a conceptual claim that without the ANC there cannot ‘be’ a country; it is a claim that rests on foundations that are essentially totalitarian in nature.

THE NORMATIVE AND PREROGATIVE STATE
Charles Simkins
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Nov 11, 2015

In a land mark study of government in the Third Reich[1] , Ernst Fraenkel distinguished between the normative and positive state. His thesis has been given crisp expression as follows by Richard Evans:

THE GOD THAT FAILED
Charles Simkins
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Nov 11, 2015

The God That Failed was published in 1949. Edited by Richard Crossman, who was later to become a cabinet minister in Labour governments in the United Kingdom, it contained six essays by well-known figures of the time. Three (Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone and Richard Wright) were dubbed as the initiates, because they had been members of Communist parties for some time and the other three (Andre Gide, Louis Fischer and Stephen Spender) were ‘worshipers from afar’, because either they were never members or members only for a brief period.

The 2016 Local Government Elections and the Metros - Part III: Swings and Roundabouts
Charles Simkins
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Jul 02, 2015

The second Brief set out the allocation of seats to metros and produced a baseline projection of the outcome of the 2016 local government election based on the 2014 national election party support pattern. This Brief considers the quantitative projections of the elections and the qualitative observations on parties' performances therein.

All’s fair in love and golden handshakes
Joshua Hovsha
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Jun 10, 2015

This brief looks at the 'golden handshake' taken by the former National Prosecuting Authority Head, Mxolisi Nxasana and discusses the pattern of 'golden handshakes'.

The Speaker’s Role in the South African Parliament
Anele Mtwesi
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Mar 26, 2015

This brief seeks to shed light on the role the Speaker ought to play in the South African Parliament. It should not be read as an attempt to discuss the performance of any particular Speaker.

Constitutional Democracy and Revolutionary Talk
Charles Simkins
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Mar 10, 2015

One can support a constitutional democracy on the grounds that it is a better form of government than any other. One can be a revolutionary, dissatisfied with the existing political order and wanting to overthrow it in favour of an envisaged better alternative. But to claim to be a constitutional democrat and a revolutionary at the same time – now that is odd. Yet, we see it constantly in contemporary South Africa. What explains the phenomenon?

Liberalism and Identity Politics II – South Africa
Charles Simkins
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Feb 19, 2015

South Africa has been a segmented society for centuries. It still is. For example, marriages across ethnic and religious lines are relatively rare. Ethnic identities were crystallised into a system of racial classification by the apartheid state. This is a context in which identity politics might have had disastrous consequences and it was often predicted that apartheid would end in a general conflagration. Despite substantial political violence in the decade before 1994, this did not happen. For the last century and a half, infectious disease has been the more important killer. Deaths from AIDS in the opening few years of this century – some of which could have been avoided by more rapid roll out of treatment - exceeded all the mortality from war and political violence since 1850.

Liberalism and Identity Politics I – Conceptual and Global Issues
Charles Simkins
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Feb 18, 2015

Globally, the Cold War era has been succeeded by both the salience of market oriented economic development and the growth of identity politics. Understanding the relationship of liberalism and identity politics is a key issue for our time globally and specifically for understanding South African politics.

Just who is undermining Parliament?
Charles Simkins
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Sep 30, 2014

"[T]he NEC noted the extent to which Parliamentary processes have descended into chaos and the unruly offensive on the ANC in Parliament, Parliament itself and on democracy in our country. Hooliganism and insult are at unprecedented levels and are unfortunately being defined as a tool of engagement. The decorum and dignity of Parliament as an institution is being dragged through the mud under the cover of the right to be robust." - Statement of the ANC National Executive Committee following meeting held 21-29 September 2014

An Assault on Parliamentary Democracy?
Kameel Premhid
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Aug 22, 2014

The recent behaviour of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and the responses to it by the African National Congress (ANC), and the Democratic Alliance (DA), is worrying and troublesome. This brief explains why their conduct bodes ill for Parliament as an institution which is vital to democracy.

South Africa’s Local Elections
Wim Louw
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May 29, 2014

With the 2014 General elections behind us, it is not too soon to start focusing on Local elections. This brief unpacks the components of South Africa's local elections.

The South African Electoral System
Wim Louw
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Mar 20, 2014

This is the first in a series of Briefs dealing with elections in South Africa. This Brief unpacks some of the main components of the South African General Elections.

Electoral Reform – What Political Parties Have To Say
Ashleigh Fraser
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Apr 25, 2013

Discussions about electoral reform in South Africa have again come to the forefront over the last few weeks. This brief succinctly discusses the attitudes of four political parties towards electoral reform and how reform may or may not effect change to accountability and representation.