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Most-read Opinion and Analysis on EWN in 2019

EWN has compiled a list of its most-read opinion pieces for the first 11 months of the year.

The ANC's Ace Magashule, Cyril Ramaphosa and David Mabuza. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

Unsurprisingly, 2019 was an eventful news year, including more state capture revelations, political posturing and resignations, court battles, gender-based violence and discrimination, and of course, load shedding.

EWN columnists had their say on the above, and more.

Below is a compilation of our most-read opinion pieces for the first 11 months of the year.

ZIMBABWE’S JUST ABOUT REACHED THE POINT OF NO RETURN

A man is loaded into a car after allegedly being assaulted by soldiers on 16 January 2019 in Sizinda township, Bulawayo, as Zimbabwe is swept by violent protests triggered by a sharp, sudden rise in fuel prices. Picture: AFP

A man is loaded into a car after allegedly being assaulted by soldiers on 16 January 2019 in Sizinda township, Bulawayo, as Zimbabwe is swept by violent protests triggered by a sharp, sudden rise in fuel prices. Picture: AFP

Violent protests erupted in Zimbabwe after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would more than double to tackle a shortfall caused by increased demand and "rampant" illegal trading.

EWN's Zimbabwe correspondent Oliver Matthews took a closer look at the protests and goverment crackdown in January, saying this was not what Mnangagwa promised when he took over after those jubilant scenes in 2017.

"Here’s the thing: nothing the Zimbabwe president can say will make this any better. Somehow, under Mnangagwa and whatever good and positive signs he’s said before, Zimbabwe’s just about reached the point of no return."

CONNECT THE DOTS FROM THE PAST TO DEAL WITH THE ROT AT ESKOM

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe holds a napkin in his hands after tearing up after discussing former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report during a press conference in Johannesburg on 3 November 2016. Picture:  EWN.

Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe tearing up after discussing former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report on 3 November 2016. Picture: EWN.

In February Eskom made the unprecedented announcement of stage four load shedding, which President Cyril Ramaphosa described as "most worrying".

"That comes as quite a shock. It is reported that there are six units that are down - that is most worrying, most disturbing," said Ramaphosa during a live Twitter broadcast.

EWN columnist Judith February unpacked the rot within the power utility.

"Eskom is R440 billion in debt (thanks Brian Molefe, Lynne Brown, Jacob Zuma, Matshela Koko, the Guptas and an array of corrupt actors)

"It is so that to understand the present, we need to connect the dots to the past and then only will we be able to deal with the rot."

ON KARIMA BROWN, THE EFF AND THE FALLACY OF A 'JUST-WORLD'

Karima Brown. Picture: Radio702

Journalist Karima Brown.

After journalist Karima Brown received rape threats via WhatsApp in March when EFF leader Julius Malema revealed her mobile number on Twitter, many called for her to provide screengrabs and reveal his number.

Author and EWN columnist Haji Mohamed Dawjee took a closer look at the issue and argued that while we live in an era of name and shame – and rightly so - revealing his identity might have perpetuated the cycle of violence, the brunt of which would be faced by Brown - another woman at the mercy of a toxically masculine society sick with the disease of victim blaming in a culture rife with rape.

"This incident is bigger than the EFF. It is bigger than Karima Brown and it is unfortunate that another woman, once again has to bear the brunt of being another case study. This incident is bigger than politics and votes and leadership. This incident is bigger than the media telling you where and for whom to cast your vote and who is worthy or unworthy of being president. This incident is important, but it is also bigger and more complex than a journalist being targeted as a bloody agent or what ever."

STUDY: PRIVILEGE AND ENTITLEMENT AND COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING IN WHITE S AFRICANS

FILE: Stellenbosch University. Picture: @stellenboschuniversity/Facebook.com.

Stellenbosch University. Picture: Supplied.

In April a petition was launched after Stellenbosch University published a report which suggested that coloured South African women had an increased risk of low cognitive function due to lower education levels and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours.

The report, titled Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in colored South African women, only had a sample size of 60 people.

In response, EWN columnist Haji Mohamed Dawjee presented a satirical study stating that, "White people in South Africa have an increased risk of impaired overall cognitive functioning as they present with low exposure levels to the rest of South African society and its people and an unhealthy close-minded lifestyle based on privilege and entitled behaviour.

"This study assesses the cognitive function and its association with privilege, entitlement and fragility (just for good measure) in a qualitative sample of white South Africans of all ages, but particularly those who offer unsubstantial academic research on the intelligence of coloured women, of which they know nothing."

CASTER, SHOW US YOUR BOOBS - INSIDE THE IAAF RULING

South Africa's 800 metres Olympic champion Caster Semenya (right) and her lawyer Gregory Nott (centre) leave a landmark hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in Lausanne, on 18 February 2019. Picture: AFP.

South Africa's 800 metres Olympic champion Caster Semenya (right) and her lawyer Gregory Nott (centre) leave a landmark hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in Lausanne, on 18 February 2019. Picture: AFP.

In May the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Caster Semenya's challenge against IAAF rules forcing her to lower her testosterone levels to compete with women, even as judges labelled the regulations "discriminatory."

The three-judge panel found that the rules targeting athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) were "discriminatory" but that "such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics".

EWN columnist Haji Mohamed Dawjee wrote that any member of the public who had paid attention to the last few thousand years of history and the policing of the black body would pick up on the more subliminal messages of this outcome.

RAMAPHOSA HAS EVOKED EITHER FEAR OR CYNICISM: BOTH ARE OFF THE MARK

After President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address in June, UJ professor Steven Friedman argued that the cynics didn’t believe Ramaphosa was a cure for the ills Jacob Zuma brought, while the fearful believed Ramaphosa really was an antidote to Zuma.

"Until and unless the President and his allies make including the excluded the centrepiece of his government and reveal workable plans to achieve this, it will remain unclear whether the change at the top is merely taking the country back a decade – or towards a new direction."

BUSISIWE MKHWEBANE, WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane delivering her findings against President Cyril Ramaphosa on 19 July 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane on 19 July 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

In July, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report on the South African Revenue Service's (Sars) so-called rogue unit, finding that Pravin Gordhan violated the Constitution when he approved the establishment of the unit, saying only the president had the constitutional mandate to form such a covert unit.

In response, EWN columnist Judith February wrote that if one were to be charitable, one could say that the Public Protector did not have a full grasp of the law or the powers of her office.

"While the law should be allowed to take its course in the interdict and review process, there does seem to be enough in the public domain and her reports to suggest that Mkhwebane is unfit for office and should be removed from her position."

A TALE OF TWO ANCS

FILE: Cyril Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule. Picture: EWN.

Cyril Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule. Picture: EWN

Amidst the continued tensions between ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule being played out in public, social commentator, author and CEO of the Patriotic Movement Sello Lediga wrote in August that the party was on a death spiral.

"The ANC is so factionalised, some of its top leaders are working with the opposition and some criminal syndicates to oust the only person who can save the embattled country, Cyril Ramaphosa. It is such a self-devouring free-for-all political jamboree that external forces are joining the factions fighting for the soul of the ANC. Yes, it is a tale of two ANCs, one struggling to free the party from the clutches of corruption, rent-seeking and capture, while the other is in a frantic fightback to stay out of jail. Something is gonna give. Very soon."

RAMAPHOSA IS LOSING THE PR BATTLE

FILE: Capetonians took to the street to protest against gender-based violence on 4 September 2019. They moved from Parliament to the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the World Economic Forum on Africa event was under way. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

Capetonians took to the street to protest against gender-based violence on 4 September 2019. They moved from Parliament to the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the World Economic Forum on Africa event was under way. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

The rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana in the Western Cape led to protests in September which made global headlines.

In Cape Town, President Ramaphosa was attending the World Economic Forum Africa meeting while students marched to Parliament. It was only when the protests reached uncomfortably close to the locus of the international event that Ramaphosa eventually stirred.

EWN columnist Judith February wrote that yet again, Ramaphosa seemed behind the narrative.

"The country is weary of seeing Ramaphosa constantly reacting to events, be it protests, xenophobia or ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule contradicting him at every turn. The problem is that Ramaphosa is, crudely put, losing the ‘PR battle’ and the ability to set the terms of the national mood and conversation."

THE THIEVES WHO STOLE DOG FOOD - THE ABNORMAL IS NORMAL IN SA

The sanctity of EWN editor-in-chief Mahlatse Mahlase's family home was shattered when her property was invaded in September. Bizarrely, the only thing the thieves stole was her dog Marley’s food - all 20kg of it - straight out of the dog feeder.

Reflecting on the robbery, Mahlase wrote that South Africa is a country where normal has become abnormal, and we resort to blaming the victims for not taking measures to protect themselves.

"How I wish petty crime could be just that, petty, and not a sign of something more sinister. Because really, I would love to live in a country where we laugh off thieves who steal the dog’s food."

WHO IS HERMAN MASHABA TRYING TO FOOL?

FILE: Herman Mashaba announces his resignation as Johannesburg Mayor on 21 October 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

Herman Mashaba announces his resignation as Johannesburg Mayor on 21 October 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba tendered his resignation from the Democratic Alliance (DA) following the announcement of Helen Zille as the party’s Federal Council chair in October.

In his resignation statement, he said: “The election of Helen Zille… represents a victory for people in the DA who stand diametrically opposed to my beliefs and value system, and I believe those of most South Africans of all backgrounds".

In response, EWN columnist Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya asked who would have thought that a free market fundamentalist would quit political office because his party had been taken over by what he termed a right-wing element?

"While Mashaba is obviously free to make decisions about all aspects of his life, including political membership, it would be kind of him to not assume that we suffer from collective amnesia."

OPEN LETTER TO MBUYISENI NDLOZI

The Springboks celebrate after their win over England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup on 2 November 2019 in Japan. Picture: @Springboks/Twitter

The Springboks celebrate after their win over England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup on 2 November 2019 in Japan. Picture: Twitter/@Springboks

Ahead of the Springboks' World Cup victory against England in November, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi raised eyebrows when he tweeted: "Aggg please, today is England vs. England. I mean during 2010 World Cup the settlers had both flags in their homes & cars. It's a win win for them because they are still England at heart! You should be focused on removing apartheid statues."

In response, the DA's Joe McGluwa wrote an open letter to Ndlozi.

"How fickle you must be to assume that the public celebrations of the World Cup win is a false sense of unity. I would go so far as to state here that ordinary South Africans of all races, religions, culture and language are far more united than what you would like people to believe. And this scares you because it makes your politics ring hollow. And therefore threatens your political existence."

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