Focus 55 Chapters

Universalising the Enlightenment

Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winning economist, has recently – to wide and highly influential critical acclaim – published The Idea of Justice, a major, brilliant, book of great erudition and scope.

Procedural Justice

This article focuses primarily on procedural justice with particular reference to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 and the justice system in South Africa.

Social Welfare: Social Stasis

South Africa’s democratic transition in 1994 was not only a transformative change to political institutions and political process.

Education and Injustice

Education has the potential to play a key role in addressing societal injustice by equalising opportunities, facilitating development, and strengthening democracy.

Pervasive Impunity

Nation-wide reaction to the court proceedings against the ‘Reitz four’ students, and the University of the Free State’s dropping of internal charges against them for their degrading treatment of the University’s female employees has recently highlighted the possible connection between the template of forgiveness central to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and attitudes and events shaping contemporary South African society.

‘History to the defeated May say Alas, but cannot help or pardon’

Revolutionary wars became a feature of modern history after the American Revolution of 1776. It is no accident that the word “guerrilla” – whose original meaning was mini-war – derives from precisely such an experience in the mountains of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.

People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa

The Greek poet Archilochus offers an illuminating prism though which to view Anthea Jeffery’s voluminous and illuminating book on the struggle for South Africa that led eventually to the triumph of the African National Congress and its installation as the governing party in 1994, even though Archilochus lived in the seventh century BC.

People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa

Anthea Jeffery’s central thesis in her book, People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa, that the ANC deliberately killed thousands of South Africans in a scorched earth strategy to capture power at all costs from the Nationalist government in the dying days of apartheid, is simply not true.

Right of Reply

Pallo Jordan goes round in circles in his caricature of my book, seeking to reduce it to a simplistic conspiracy theory which no one can seriously entertain.

The Poverty of Ideas: South African Democracy and the Retreat of Intellectuals

The editors of this volume, William Gumede, author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC (2005) and Leslie Dikeni, a Research Associate at the Department of International Politics at the University of Pretoria, decry what they call the retreat of intellectuals since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Issue Twelve - October 2009 - Planning our Future: SA 2025

The Helen Suzman Foundation hosted a lively panel discussion at the Rosebank Hotel on the 14 October 2009. Former HSF Director Raenette Taljaard chaired the discussion and the panel made up of Neren Rau (CEO Sacci); Aubrey Matshiqi (independent analyst), Azar Jammine (Econometrics) and William Gumede (independent analyst) provided thought provoking and substantive comment. The discussion covered two new Green Papers: National Strategic Planning and Improving Government Performance, submitted by Trevor Manuel and Collins Chabane respectively.

Issue Thirteen - December 2009 - Strategic Health Reform

The Round Table on Health Reform, part of the HSF’s Quarterly Round Table series held in association with the Open Society Foundation For South Africa, was attended by some one hundred and sixty members of the public, health practitioners, government officials, financial analysts, bankers and members of the insurance industry. Headline presenters Tebogo Phadu of the ANC policy unit and Alex van den Heever, an independent health economist led the discussion. Francis Antonie chaired the Round Table and Jonathan Broomberg, Chris Archer, Trevor Terblanche, Joe Veriava and Hein van Eck were discussants.

Focus 56 - February 2010 - On Learning and Teaching

In keeping with the Foundation’s stated policy of seeking to offer a platform for both seasoned commentators and new and marginalised voices, we present this edition of Focus on Learning and Teaching. The Foundation works from the premise that education is not only an important developmental issue, but is also a human rights issue. Beyond the central concern of personal growth, our social development and, crucially, our long-term economic development is dependent on the acquisition and availability of suitable and appropriate skills. Arguably the major constraint confronting South Africa’s growth trajectory has always been its poor human capital base.


In keeping with the Foundation’s stated policy of seeking to offer a platform for both seasoned commentators and new and marginalised voices, we present this edition of Focus on Learning and Teaching.

Galvanising Education: Commissioning Editor’s Overview

“Parents and communities will have little say in the education of their children and teachers will have little scope to exercise individuality or originality or experiment” Helen Suzman said in 1966, opposing the Education Bill.

Schooling in and for the New South Africa

We write about schooling in South Africa at a time when most knowledgeable educationalists and practitioners are agreed that the educational system is in a state of chronic crisis.

The Debate about Re-opening Teacher Education Colleges

During 1999, the call for re-opening teacher education colleges was made repeatedly as campaigning for the election gained momentum. It was reiterated and debated at the National Teacher Education Summit held at the end of June 2009.

Mother Tongue Instruction

Learners are often referred for psycho-educational assessments as a reactive measure because their scholastic progress is poor. They seem to be experiencing language barriers in spite of being instructed in their mother tongue; and worse, their academic self-esteem is at its lowest because of their awareness that they are struggling to cope.

Public School Governance in South Africa

Given the painful, complex and controversial history of schooling in South Africa, it was unlikely that any model chosen for the management and control of our public schools would satisfy all role-players.

The Role of Community in Education: A Practitioner’s Reflection

A professional community organiser works with leaders within communities to promote social and economic changes. In this regard the organiser plays diverse roles that are intended to build the capacity of people to gain collective awareness and confidence to confront public issues that impact on their lives.

Bullying: The Monster in the Dark

South Africa, obsessed with violence, has become consumed with false hope. We think we can make violence go away with policies and procedures but we are failing as the problem still persists. Our obsession is understandable, given the soaring crime rate and the increasing number of violent activities dominating the news headlines.

Education delivery in the poorest nodes

South Africa enjoys a rare distinction of having gone through all the convulsions and outpouring of anger associated with regime change – without actually changing the ruling regime at all.