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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17
MAY

What if a pro-black organisation wanted to use the old SA flag to critique the ANC?

The law only allows three exceptions to the use of symbols of hate such as the old SA flag. These exceptions include the usage of the symbol for purposes of bona fide artistic ends, academic endeavour or journalism. The gratuitous display of the old SA flag, for these reasons, have been declared as constituting hate speech.

AfriForum is hoping to persuade the supreme court of appeal that general free speech rights are impermissibly restricted by such a declaration. The Nelson Mandela Foundation as well the Human Rights Commission argued that AfriForum's view, in turn, took inadequate account of the rights of dignity and equality which constrain the free speech rights AfriForum are asserting. The SCA now has to adjudicate the matter. In this edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE, advocate Ben Winks, who represented the NMF, joined McKaiser to discuss an aspect of the case that has been under the radar. What happens if a black person or a black-led and pro-black organisation used the old SA flag as part of their political speech rights such as, say, waving it publicly as a trenchant critique of the quality of the current ANC government? Would such usage also be deemed to be a celebration of white supremacy? Or ought we to distinguish such cases from the gratuitous display of the flag by right-wing organisations? How should the law handle this? Besides, such an instance would not be artistic, academic or journalistic? Should the law be expanded to include political usage of such symbols as another exemption from the hate speech laws? Winks and McKaiser did not arrive at clear conclusions but framed the inherent legal, political and ethical complexities these questions occasion. 
11
MAY

Steinhoff should resist an appeal and hand over the PWC document

In the latest edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE we explain a judgment handed down on Tuesday in the Western Cape High Court that directs Steinhoff to hand over, within 10 days, a 2019 PwC report it had commissioned to look into the 2017 collapse of the company.
Financial Mail editor Rob Rose, who is the second applicant in the matter, explained why the judgment is important.
First, the court made it clear Steinhoff cannot rely on the status of being a private company to escape the reach and scope of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
McKaiser and Rose discussed the importance of this legal conclusion in helping to ensure that not only the public sector but also private players are held maximally accountable for their actions. Second, McKaiser pointed out that the judgment not only asserted the importance of media freedom but related it to freedom of expression more fundamentally. Rose said the reason this matters is not to allow journalists to dig up information as an end in itself but ultimately to enable the public to know the facts about what is happening in society. McKaiser, agreeing with Rose, explained these rights are often wrongly seen as workplace demands from journalists but, in reality, both the right to freedom of expression and media freedom exist to ensure citizens are able to enjoy their political rights. Without a free flow of information that is not possible. That is why accessing a document like the PwC report is important, and the ruse of “legal privilege” was not accepted by the court. Finally, Rose told McKaiser he hopes the PwC report will be handed over rather than there being further legal resistance.
McKaiser and Rose ended the discussion by considering the business and ethical reasons why Steinhoff should choose transparency instead of further troubling the courts.
06
MAY

#DebatingZondoPart4 — utterly pointless or closer to justice now?

TimesLIVE contributor and analyst Eusebius McKaiser hosted a Twitter spaces conversation with senior Sunday Times investigative reporter Thanduxolo Jika in which they explored whether the latest instalment of the Zondo commission's report into state capture gets us closer to justice or not.

The first part of the conversation delved into some of the commission's findings to then explore the implications for our democracy. Jika, who has covered the state capture story for many years, detailed examples from part four of the Zondo report, such as the Free State asbestos debacle, that establishes the facts of grand-scale looting from the state.

Importantly, he points out, the commission was able to connect many dots forensically, such as former president Jacob Zuma's ubiquitous presence in the Gupta brothers' execution of their state capture project.

The centrality of Zuma is now well established. The losers are millions of people who did not receive state services they were legally entitled to and politically promised, such as the removal of asbestos. 
02
MAY

Is the ANC too far gone to modernise?

That was the framing question of this latest episode of Eusebius on TimesLIVE in which ANC member Chrispin Phiri articulated his critique of his party's suboptimal internal electoral processes.
The first part of the discussion reflected on the history of the party that has led to an opaque and insufficiently democratic set of practices. Phiri argues that historically the party had seen some candidates as endowed with the ideal skills for certain leadership positions but that this had the inadvertent effect of reducing internal contestation at times.
Alternatively, at other times, there appears to be vigorous contestation but there are no clear rules around articulating and defending one's vision and candidacy. There should be, he argues, more demanding threshold criteria for anyone wishing to get elected. Such a modern demand for publicly defending your vision and candidacy has not taken root within the organisation. This leads, at times, to internal electoral contests collapsing into sheer populism.  Phiri added that even for branches it is undesirable to not be able to then offer substantive explanations and reasons in support of those they nominate to positions of leadership. 
He agreed with TimesLIVE contributor and analyst McKaiser that one consequence of this substantively anti-democratic culture is that some ANC cadres, not used to the demands of offering reasons for their views and actions, unsurprisingly carry that attitude into the state, and then not doing well as civil servants when the law demands of them to offer reasons for how they exercise state power. There is therefore a clear connection between the antiquated ANC elections culture, and some of the cultural problems within the state that lead to unlawful and unethical behaviour. 
21
APR

Encountering God through feminist liberation-theologies

University of Western Cape gender and religion scholar Professor Sarojini Nadar  responded to an article by TimesLIVE analyst and contributor, Eusebius McKaiser, in which he had argues that the God he was taught about in Catholicism does not exist. McKaiser argues that the characteristics of being all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing are incompatible with the existence of natural evils like devastating floods and earthquakes. Nadar did not reject all of McKaiser' philosophical analysis, but expanded the conversation by explaining why she had abandoned, in her own personal journey and academic work, a conception of God that invokes notions of "might, masculinity and militarism."
In this edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE, Nadar expands on the conversation that had begun on TimesLIVE. She started off by sharing her personal journey from a Pentecostal upbringing to her discovery of black, feminist and queer works which engage her faith. Thereafter, McKaiser challenged Nadar on whether the very idea of a transcendental being is necessary in order for one to be committed to black radical thought, feminism and justice. They also discussed the strategic importance of engaging and working with religious communities in order to achieve social justice in society, regardless of what one thinks about the metaphysical claims of those who believe in a supernatural being. 
Nadar and McKaiser also reflected on religion and humour, and whether it is ever wrong to have playful discussion about religious beliefs. They ended the episode by debating whether or not it is important for religious beliefs to be true or whether religious beliefs and practices can be defended wholly instrumentally by appealing to the (potential) benefits for individuals and society.  
19
APR

What happens when parliament's ethics committee behaves unethically?

Sunday Times senior investigative reporter Sabelo Skiti was a guest on Eusebius on TimesLIVE, discussing parliament's ethics committee's decision to exonerate former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on accusations of violating the parliamentary code of ethics. The committee found that, in essence, Mkhize did not breach the code because his son, who allegedly benefited from a Digital Vibes tender in the health ministry, is not a close family member, as per the definition of close family membership as specified in the code. His adult son, concluded the committee, is not a dependent of the minister and thus the code of ethics is not implicated. The committee also concluded that the former minister cannot be said to have benefited from malfeasance related to renovations at a property in his name since the paper trail does not indict him in his own name but that of some other Mkhize who was doing the transactions, and receiving invoices, related to the renovations. Skiti explained in this podcast episode the factual detail that undermines the ethics committee's counter-intuitive conclusions about Mkhize. When the paper trail, and chronology of events related to the R150 million communications tender scandal, is properly analysed, argues Skiti, it is irresistible to conclude wrongdoing on the part of the former minister. McKaiser and Skiti also discuss the unconvincing narrow interpretation of the code of ethics, agreeing that an exploration of the purpose of the legislation and the intention of the drafters, could easily have enabled the committee to hold the former minister accountable, knowing they are doing so lawfully. They end the podcast by discussing several serious negative implications for both Mkhize and parliament itself resulting from this flagrant disregard of the constitutional duty to provide effective oversight over cabinet. 
11
APR

Hate thy neighbour? Making sense of the anti-foreigner turn in SA politics

Well-known South African author and commentator Sisonke Msimang examined the multiple meanings and implications of violence against foreign nationals as a guest on Eusebius on TimesLIVE. In the first part of the conversation, they develop a thick account of what it all means.

McKaiser argues that while 1994 represents a genuine rupture in South African political history, echoes of apartheid South Africa cannot be ignored, such as the dompas system that sought to regulate who can live and work in particular parts of the country. Msimang, agreeing with the analogy, added other insights such as the marking out of some bodies as legitimate and others not. The dehumanising of the apartheid-era 'othering' is being reproduced in this moment of anti-foreigner violence and populist politics.

Msimang conceded that legitimate popular discontent with the material conditions under which millions of impoverished black South Africans live, account in part for the anti-foreigner turn. However, she cautioned against the use of explanatory models to turn a blind eye to naked bigotry. Going further, she argues that Afrophobia unites many South Africans across our class, language and geographic differences.

McKaiser and Msimang both argue that South African political parties are preying on legitimate discontent, tapping into the frustrations of South Africans by whipping up anti-foreigner sentiment. Citizens should put the state on trial, they argue, and not foreigners as such. Even the governing African National Congress, they caution, is pulling a fast one by showing solidarity with citizens in this moment as a way to avoid being judged for a failing bureaucracy they should take responsibility for.

Msimang ended the episode with a brief sketch of a pan-African cosmopolitanism that we should forge, against the violent and exclusionary politics of othering and hating our neighbours.
05
APR

The true cost of ANC delinquency is worse than you think

Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir painted a dire picture on Eusebius on TimesLIVE about the true total cost of the leadership crisis within the governing African National Congress. With fellow political analyst and podcast host Eusebius McKaiser, Fakir explored the consequences of unethical leadership within the ANC going unpunished. Many examples, from the perjury conviction of former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini to murder-accused Mandla Msibi being elected as ANC Mpumalanga treasurer-general, suggest that unethical and even criminal conduct are not obstacles to occupying positions of leadership within the governing party. The nexus question of this edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE is what the democratic consequences of these trends are, given that the ANC is a massive social movement within our society, and (for now, still) the largest political party by some distance.

Citing robust empirical data, Fakir argues that there has been a sharp decline in the levels of public trust in various democratic institutions, including a decline in the public's trust of political parties. This, in turn, is also matched by increased levels of stay away from, and non-participation in, elections. This, he argues, does not bode well for the continued legitimacy of the governing ANC. Mckaiser and Fakir both explored, furthermore, how the impunity of criminal and unethical leaders result in poor governance, and thereby opening up space for populist politics, including dangerous anti-foreigner sentiments from various opposition leaders and parties, all capitalising on the discontent of the proverbial masses.

These two interlocutors also debated whether the ANC's confidence is justified that the party, as a social movement, has deep roots within communities, roots that mitigate against the critical analysis of commentators. Using empirical data, however, Fakir explained why such a view is evidence-insensitive, and argued that the ANC, in the best case scenario, might
25
MAR

Can the ANC be saved from itself?

There can be no doubt after the local government election results of last year that the governing ANC is in deep political trouble.
Many analysts take for granted that in 2024 there is a real possibility of the ANC receiving less than 50% of the national vote, ushering in an era of coalition politics nationally and provincially. This is premised on the assumption that the ANC cannot be saved from terminal electoral decline.
In this episode of Eusebius on TimesLIVE, well-known and experienced former journalists Thabo Shole-Mashao and Lance Claasen joined Eusebius to examine the possibility of the ANC recovering from its steady electoral decline of recent times.
They explored whether the political brand of the ANC is irredeemably and near fatally damaged by the effects of state capture on the reputation of the governing party. They also debated whether the leadership crisis in the ANC, both the ethical and technocratic dimensions, can be fixed before 2024 or whether that is an impossible task.
Lastly, drawing on the public relations, communications and reputation management expertise of both guests (in their post-journalism careers), this episode ended with a provocative question posed by the host: “Assuming the ANC cannot fix its problems before 2024, what is the best strategy to convince voters not to abandon the party?”
17
MAR

Mbali Ntuli exits DA, critiques party factionalism

In a sit-down interview with TimesLIVE analyst and contributor, Eusebius McKaiser, now former Democratic Alliance politician and leader Mbali Ntuli explained in detail her reasons for exiting both the party and the political stage. On Eusebius on TiimesLIVE, she painted a picture of a political culture that had taken root within the DA that is factionalist in nature, leading to the "weaponising" of party structures and processes, including disciplinary processes, for factional ends. While describing herself as being "emotional" about her shock announcement today, she intimated that plenty of thought and planning had gone into the decision.

Another reason for her decision to quit the DA was a general feeling of despair that South Africa's party political system is not delivering justice and equity for communities across the country. This, she shared with McKaiser, made her re-examine whether she herself is sufficiently grounded still within communities, despite being part of representative political structures and systems. She was alluding to a crisis within politics generally, and felt that pivoting towards community-based work in the immediate future, as she intends to do, is important for re-connecting with ordinary South Africans across the country. While not undermining the work of legislative bodies, she argues that it is "easy" to do committee work, for example, and to be disconnected from communities. She intends, however, to return to politics in the future because it is "in the blood" but has no plans of presently joining another political vehicle.
16
MAR

The mentoring toolkit

With almost half of South Africans who are capable of working not being in the labour market, it is necessary to focus on all aspects of the unemployment crisis in South Africa. This week's edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE contributes to that challenge by hosting a discussion with professional coach Dawn Klatzko, aimed at developing a mentoring toolkit.

Klatzko helped to answer three questions: what is required of you to be an effective mentee? What are the traits of an ideal mentor? And, relating these roles to one another, how does one set up a relationship dynamic that is optimal for both the mentee and the mentor?

The podcast has a very practical focus ranging from hard-hitting truths about what is required to form new habits and skills as a mentee, mistakes that are made when thinking about who to approach as a mentor, and tips on how to set up a contract to guide the practical interactions between mentor and mentee.

The discussion ended with an interesting set of reflections on why mentoring is not only a selfless act but also has numerous practical personal benefits for the expert also.
10
MAR

National budget impoverishes the majority

Duma Gqubule (Centre for Economic Development and Transformation) discussed this year's national budget as a guest on Eusebius on TimesLIVE. He argued that the government's projection of an economic growth rate below 2% over the next few years will result in greater levels of unemployment which, in turn, will increase social strife in South Africa. One of several government mistakes, argues Gqubule, is to focus relentlessly on keeping the debt level as low as possible, and slavishly obsessing about inflation targeting. Although anathema to some economists, Gqubule made a passionate case for why an ambitious stimulus package is necessary in order to unlock economic growth within the economy. If, for example, we were to enjoy another commodities windfall, he argues, that income should be used to stimulate growth, and to unlock jobs rather than to quickly pay off our national debt.
Gqubule ended the conversation by explaining why the analogy of a household budget to make sense of a national budget is flawed. He also commented on the false dichotomy of seeing job creation as either wholly a state duty or one that squarely befalls private enterprise. He explained how we are collectively implicated in the jobs crisis across the various sectors of society.

36 episodes

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