Eusebius on TimesLIVE

Eusebius McKaiser, well-known broadcaster, author, and now also contributor and political analyst for TimesLIVE, hosts a weekly podcast that journeys to the heart of major news items, dissecting politics, law, and ethics.

Eusebius is known for sharp debate, and this podcast is no different. It will inform, entertain, explain and frame evidence-informed debates about the major stories of the week.

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How to steal an election

Terry Tselane, former vice-chairperson of the Electoral Commission (IEC) and executive chairperson of the Institute of Election Management Services in Africa, joined Eusebius McKaiser on his TimesLIVE podcast.
Looking ahead to the 2024 national elections, they discussed whether electoral processes in SA are beyond reproach, or whether elections could conceivably be stolen.

Is the ANC leadership battle a contest between deplorables?

Mike Siluma, deputy editor of The Sunday Times, and Susan Booysen, well-known political analyst, joined Eusebius McKaiser on his TimesLIVE podcast to discuss the current state of ANC leadership battles. The impetus for this episode of the podcast is the press statement this past week by former president Jacob Zuma that stated a number of views he holds ahead of the ANC elective conference.
Zuma argued that a “generational mix” rather than a “generational takeover” is the best guiding principle for the ANC elective conference choices. He also indicated his availability to be elected as ANC chair in the event that branches of the ANC should nominate him.
The first task of the panellists was to try to make sense of the Zuma press statement. Booysen argued that the former president is “delusional” in his assessment of how much political weight he still carries, and how much influence he has to potentially affect the outcome of the ANC elective conference.
Siluma agreed with her, and pointed to the obvious differences between the former president's wishes, and the preferences of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership.
Thereafter the panel members debated whether current president Ramaphosa is likely to be elected back into his position. Though there was some agreement that this might be the case, the discussants agreed that the situation varies significantly from the position at the beginning of the year.

Richard Calland answers questions about the Phala Phala panel

University of Cape Town law professor Richard Calland is no longer going to serve on the panel tasked with a preliminary inquiry into a motion in terms of section 89 of the constitution. This motion relates to the Phala Phala controversy around president Cyril Ramaphosa. Some political parties had objected to Calland's appointment on the basis that he is politically biased in favour of Ramaphosa. Calland appeared on Eusebius on TimesLIVE to explain his decision to accept the judgment of the speaker of parliament that “it is in the best interest of the parliamentary process” for him to no longer be a part of it.
Eusebius McKaiser asked Calland what considerations he took into account when he was told of his nomination, and in deciding whether to accept it. Calland explains that his main consideration was whether he could, as a trained lawyer, assess the issues fairly, independently and without bias, even as someone who has been a public intellectual and commentator for more than 20 years. Having satisfied himself that he met these criteria, he accepted the nomination. 
When pushed by McKaiser about perceived bias, Calland insisted that, after social media criticism as well as a formal complaint by the EFF communicated to the speaker of parliament, he did in fact seriously reflect on what critics had said. The standard he applied, in reflecting on these criticisms, was the same he would apply in a judicial request for recusal. Calland claims that each of the purported proofs of his alleged bias from the EFF fell short of the “reasonableness” standard for recusal, and he could articulate, he claims, how each of the pieces of “evidence”, which are essentially references to his work as an analyst, drew inferences, from past columns for example, that do not justify a “reasonable apprehension of bias” in the appointment to the panel. 

Excited about Mmusi Maimane's return to electoral politics?

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane told TimesLIVE contributor and analyst Eusebius McKaiser why he decided to register a political party to contest the 2024 elections.
On Eusebius on TimesLIVE, Maimane argues that communities are disempowered by the electoral system, which is why he focused his energies, after exiting formal politics in 2019, on electoral reform. He says effective political accountability requires that communities have the ability to recall parliamentarians who do not fulfil their mandate.
When McKaiser asked whether his will be a “classic political party”, Maimane said though it must be registered with the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) as a political entity, he is designing a “franchise model”. He means that while there must agreement on non-negotiable values such as ubuntu and nonracialism, there will be space for a diverse range of individuals to join, provided they are each committed to empowering their communities and serving those which had nominated and elected them.
However, added Maimane, even common values are insufficient for effective and responsive government. This is why his model also emphasises “a common vision” for the most important issues affecting communities such as the economy, safety, and education.
McKaiser suggested there was a “vagueness” problem when politicians talk about values such as nonracialism. These are substantive political concepts that might mean different things to different people. Similarly, suggested the podcast host, there might be “intractable differences” about what the vision should be for solving crime and making communities safer.
Maimane insisted that a culture of democratic debate, guided by the agreed baseline values, will make it more rather than less likely that a common vision would be agreed on.
Whether these responses are persuasive is for listeners of this TimesLIVE podcast to decide.

EXPLAINER | Political chaos in Nelson Mandela Bay

Eusebius on TimesLIVE hosted Rochelle de Kock (editor, The Herald) and Andisa Bonani (senior political reporter, The Herald) to explain and debate this week's political drama in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The municipality has a new mayor, the DA's Retief Odendaal, who replaces the ANC's Eugene Johnson. She was removed in the early hours of Thursday after a marathon council sitting that led to a motion of no confidence in her. It was passed by one vote.
What was the basis of the motion? Why did some parties vote with the incumbent ANC? What is the basis of complex coalition alliances in NMB? And crucially, what are the prospects of new leadership being able to turn around a major city that has in recent years been in the news for all the wrong reasons, among them water insecurity, gangsterism, high unemployment, housing backlogs and strained public health facilities?
These are some of the issues De Kock and Bonani tackle in this podcast.
The discussion ends with reflections on the viability of the co-operative governance model and prospects of more viable provincial coalitions countrywide after the 2024 general election.

IFP spokesperson struggles to justify murder accusation

IFP spokesperson and MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa joined analyst and broadcaster Eusebius McKaiser on his TimesLIVE podcast to explain why the party is marching to City Press this Friday.
Mkhuleko was at pains to explain they are doing so “as a last resort” in response to multiple “unsubstantiated” claims and “blatant lies” made by the City Press editor in his various columns, over several years, that IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi is “a mass murderer”.
McKaiser pressure-tested the objective of the march, asking whether the IFP wanted Makhanya to stop writing and to self-censor. In a vigorous debate, Mkhuleko insisted the IFP is committed to speech rights, but that the IFP also has a right to peaceful protest and that speech rights are not absolute.
During the discussion, Mkhuleko claimed Makhanya cannot write “objectively” about Buthelezi because he is implicated in violence related to the IFP. When pushed further on this, Mkhuleko insisted he literally means Makhanya was involved in the killing of IFP members.
TimesLIVE reached out to City Press editor Mondli Makhanya who dismissed the claim made about him by the IFP, saying "What Mkhuleko Hlengwa has said is "balderdash."
When challenged for evidence, Mkhuleko promised to share documentary evidence with TimesLIVE to back it up. He said the IFP is willing to ventilate their claim in a legal forum. However, TimesLIVE has still not received the promised documentation. 

(How) is Queen Elizabeth II implicated in imperialism?

Historian Vashna Jaganarth was a guest on Eusebius on TimesLIVE in an episode focused on understanding the long history of English monarchies. Jaganarth started off, setting aside political and moral questions about contemporary Britain, and focused on narrating a long, rich and interesting history of English monarchies. She shows how the territory now known as England was itself a site of violent contestation, based on the expansionist ideals of mainland European dynasties. Before British colonialism was even possible, argues Jaganarth, conquests within Great Britain were precursors to expanding the empire across the global south.
This is why, in a lighthearted moment between host McKaiser and Jaganarth, the “backslapping” between Irish Twitter and black Twitter in recent days, is made sense of. Imperialism, explains Jaganarth, is not reducible to race, and started out with the subjugation of people within Great Britain, after the enclosure of land in the north. Racism emerges later as the empire expands, but class subjugation was the foundation of early monarchical violence and domination.
McKaiser prompts Jaganarth to explain how the historical shift happens in the histories of English monarchies from blunt, violent, forays into foreign territories to modernity. This leads, in part, to a critical discussion whether, in modern times, the monarchy ought to be thought of as “benign”. Jaganarth argues against this view, and explains why, on a proper examination of the historical record, Elizabeth is morally and politically implicated in imperialism. She warns against the aesthetics of an innocent grandmother figure which obscures hard truths.
The podcast ends with a brief discussion on whether all monarchies, including within SA, are compatible with constitutional democracy.

Cope, Transnet executives, Afrophobia and reimagining SA’s politics

On his TimesLIVE podcast, contributor and analyst Eusebius McKaiser hosted senior investigative reporters Thanduxolo Jika and Sabelo Skiti. They engaged major news stories in the recent news cycle, diving below the headlines, offering interpretation and framing critical discussion about what matters.
The first issue they debated was whether the apparent implosion of Cope is to be lamented. Skiti offered an argument for why the party was bound to be stillborn, if one had proper regard for the motives of the founders of the party, and how they went about setting up Cope. McKaiser countered it was, nevertheless, regrettable that competitive politics, which is a precondition for a democracy to flourish, is undermined by the infighting among Cope leaders.
Jika explained the backstory to how former Transnet executives, including Brian Molefe, ended up in the docks this past week. There was also a discussion about the importance of seeing the value chain of justice being restored, with some indication that those who were at the heart of the state capture project may yet be held accountable. McKaiser cautioned, however, that the quality of the case built by the National Prosecuting Authority is important since convictions ultimately matter, and not only the initial steps of arrests and court proceedings being initiated.
There was a parenthetical debate between Jika, Skiti and McKaiser about whether Molefe should be viewed as a “tragedy” given that, for many years, many people had regarded him as an exemplar of “black excellence”. Different were expressed on the issue, which listeners will judge for themselves. Stories about the rant by the Limpopo health MEC continue to dominate the news cycle. McKaiser’s guests weighed in, debating whether or not the ANC-led government is scapegoating foreigners or legitimately expressing discontent at the cost of illegal immigration. Jika expressed strong criticism of politicians who, in his view, weaponise the discontent of ordinary South Africans to deflect from their own governance records. He also argued that the real problem has a longer history, namely SA and the region’s failure to ensure the government in Zimbabwe does not repress its own people, and thereby creating the crisis that now has a regional dimension. Skiti agreed, developing the insight further by also arguing despite claiming to speak for the majority, the Limpopo health MEC cares equally little about poor South Africans as she does desperate foreigners. McKaiser noted a worrying trend among many South Africans to “fall” for the political game that many ANC politicians are playing in scapegoating foreigners.
This “shooting the breeze” episode ended with a high-level debate about whether we could imagine a post-ANC-led state, and what that might look like.

Geopolitics: How should Africa view the USA in the region?

Should the US be seen as a hegemonic power preying on Africa? Is it using Africa as a proxy for geopolitical battles with Russia and China? Or is the US merely interested in favourable economic diplomacy in Africa, as all countries should be across the world? How should the region view the US? What is the best strategic posture to adopt in international relations with the US?
These were some of the questions posed by Eusebius McKaiser on his TimesLIVE podcast this week. He again hosted Koffi Kouakou, well-known futurist and senior research fellow at The Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg.
Kouakou critiqued the actions of the US on the continent, arguing that a combination of military might and economic dominance results in an uneven relationship between the US and Africa.

EXPLAINED: Why EFF had the last say in AfriForum hate speech case

EXPLAINED: Why EFF had the last say in AfriForum hate speech case Advocate Ben Winks joined Eusebius McKaiser on Eusebius on TimesLIVE to explain the judgment handed down on Thursday in the Equality Court, in which AfriForum's case against the EFF was dismissed.
AfriForum had hoped the singing of the two songs, Kill the Boer and Biza amaFirebrigade (“call the fire brigade”) would be declared hate speech.
The court did not grant this order, and in this explainer podcast, Winks and McKaiser walk us through the reasoning of the court, while also framing some of the wider social and political issues that flow from the judgment. 

Three reasons Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba's rant is indefensible

In this short entry on Eusebius on TimesLIVE, the host initiates debate on a viral video. In it, Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba is seen and heard berating a foreigner who is scheduled for surgery.
McKaiser frames a political, medical ethics and realpolitik debate. He argues that her remarks are incompatible with appropriate forums for raising political concerns with other countries.
He also opines that her remarks are incompatible with medical ethics.
McKaiser adds that ANC politicians are scapegoating foreigners to avoid accountability for their systemic and leadership failures.
Hear how he supports these arguments and decide where you fit in to this ongoing debate.

Mcebisi Jonas: ANC suffers a 'crisis of reason, crisis of perspective'

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas says SA needs to be alert to “democratic backsliding”. He was a guest on Eusebius on TimesLIVE, where he teased the concept, discussing it within the context of realpolitik. Jonas said we often erroneously think democracies or states collapse only when there is, for example, a military coup. Democracies, he argued, can be weakened by people who use democratic processes to gain access to the state, then weaken it for anti-democratic ends. 

He focused on three indicators of backsliding. First, unethical leaders can hijack democratic processes and contest for positions to capture power. This is then used for anti-democratic purposes. Second, democratic institutions can be hollowed out and compromised to repurpose them for anti-democratic ends. Third, state-sponsored violence and the politicisation of state security apparatus can be used to quash political opposition and civil society.  

When asked how SA fares relative to these indicators, Jonas said despite ratings agencies not downgrading the country further, it is important to carefully examine the signs of democratic backsliding in our politics. He and McKaiser ended the podcast with a spirited debate, specifically about whether the ANC, as a political and ruling party, is capable of renewing itself and leading the country away from backsliding indicators.

Jonas conceded that the ANC suffers a “crisis of reason” and one of “perspective”. He also said such is the disconnect between the party and communities it is meant to serve that its policy conference was akin to listening to people at Sun City pontificating about life in Soweto.

65 episodes

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