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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Explained: The Janusz Waluś judgment is based on solid legal reasoning

In this short edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE, our contributor and analyst explains the Constitutional Court’s legal reasoning that resulted in an order that SACP leader Chris Hani’s assassin, Janusz Waluś, should be freed on parole.
He explains why, in his view, the decision is legally sound in terms of constitutional jurisprudence.
Eusebius McKaiser examines the political and ethical context and consequences of the judgment, recognising that the legal reasoning cannot displace complex psycho-political dynamics in the country.

Eusebius McKaiser in conversation with Jacques Pauw

In the latest edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE he is joined by journalist and author Jacques Pauw to discuss his new book, Our Poisoned Land. It is a sequel to his previous bestseller, The President's Keepers.
McKaiser engaged Pauw on many themes and questions which included, amongst others, the following: is the much discussed excerpt about the EFF a distraction from the main issues in the book or a fair reflection of his intentions as author? How does he respond to critics who think that unethical journalism, related to an incident at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, undermines his journalistic integrity and credibility?
What are examples of the linkages between money, politics and the subversion of the constitution? Why is PRASA such a big focus of the book? What are the implications of the empirical evidence of state capture specifically for the leadership of president Cyril Ramaphosa? Is the EFF a bona fide political party or a criminal enterprise?

Did you know, dear voter, that coalition politics is not about you?

Eusebius McKaiser invited TimesLIVE editor Makhudu Sefara to discuss a TimesLIVE editorial that caught the podcast host’s attention.
Sefara explains the editorial’s logic in support of the view that the politics playing out in Gauteng metros show political parties only care about power play and careerism, rather than about residents of the municipalities.
The mayoral battles in Ekurhuleni in recent weeks are the main example discussed by Sefara and McKaiser.
The editor argues that the DA’s Tania Campbell “is an accidental mayor” in the sense that her position is the result of the ANC and EFF being unable to resolve their political differences about how to dislodge the DA in Gauteng municipalities. The implication for residents, and voters, is that responsive government is deprioritised while careerism and horse-trading take centre stage.
The rest of the episode explores the wider political ramifications of these dynamics.

New polling data: here's what politicians should know about voters

Lukhona Mnguni, head of research at Rivonia Circle, joined Eusebius McKaiser on his TimesLIVE podcast to discuss the results of polling data and other research his organisation commissioned and worked on with Ipsos.

The discussion started with an explanation of the research methodology. McKaiser pressure-tested the integrity of political polling in South Africa generally, raising concerns about demographic representation, sample size and assumptions about telephony and so on. Mnguni conceded the importance of methodological hygiene, but explained that qualitative and quantitative methods were drawn on to ensure the results were "robust".

The meat of the discussion was about the political sentiments of registered voters. Mnguni unpacked their dominant concerns, with unemployment the most worrisome. Others included crime, corruption, blackouts and the rising cost of living. These factors, voters indicated to pollsters, were inadequately addressed by political parties. In terms of governance, about 74% of respondents thought the country was heading in the wrong direction, in no small part due to their five major concerns not being adequately addressed.

The conversation between McKaiser and Mnguni then segued to the implications for democracy and what practical and strategic lessons political parties ought to read from these results. Mnguni was adamant that a sceptical conclusion about the state of our democracy was not unavoidable, but depended on political parties humbling themselves, taking voters seriously, listening to them and shifting from critiquing each other to offering solutions to voters' biggest concerns. 

OPINION | What's the meaning of Zuma’s weekend rant?

In this edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE the host offers his political interpretation, with which listeners of the podcast can wrestle, about former president Jacob Zuma's press conference this past weekend.
McKaiser believes Zuma had two intentions: a desire to influence discourse about his political biography, and an attempt to influence the leadership battles within the ANC.
Why does he think these were Zuma’s aims? And how does he assess Zuma’s performance in the presser?

Heard the joke about Bain & Co South Africa being a victim of state capture?

Bain released a statement in which they asked the government to repeal a decision to ban the company from doing business with the state for 10 years. The decision was made because Bain has been implicated in state capture, but the company insists it is innocent.
In a recent press statement, Bain argued “the South African Revenue Service (Sars) was — and remains — a critical institution and a source of pride for us as South Africans. We are embarrassed that this — procurement mistakes — could have occurred in the first place and are angry that our work was used by others to damage a critical institution and South Africa”.
They also claimed: “There is no evidence Bain colluded with Sars or engaged in any corrupt and fraudulent practices.”Eusebius McKaiser invited Financial Mail deputy editor Natasha Marrian and Iraj Abedian, chief economist at Pan-African Investment & Research Services, to join him to discuss the company’s claims. Bain refused to participate in the discussion. 

Helen Zille is a gift to the ANC

In this edition of Eusebius on TimesLIVE he analyses a controversial tweet DA leader Helen Zille aligned herself with.
McKaiser argues why the tweet is not innocuous, but rather reveals a social conservatism and ahistoricism on the part of Zille.
He teases out the implications for both the DA’s general brand and the danger of a reduction in competitive politics if such missteps are not nipped in the bud by Zille’s party leadership peers.
As always, listeners of the podcast can decide for themselves whether the analysis by McKaiser is cogent.

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.

72 episodes

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