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When officials are “cowardly”, they open the space for civilians to rise to the occasion and take more courageous action. It’s not a solution, but there are moments when we see the benefits of the courage of citizens. At a recent post-Nkandla Report public meeting at Wits University, Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela was asked in question time what advice she had for her successor. “Be a coward.. like me,” she said disarmingly. “Cowardly” is not how anyone, even her enemies, would have assessed her character. She explained that all she had done was to perform the job mandated by the Constitution, to remain within her legislated powers, and take care to only make findings that could reasonably be substantiated from available evidence on a balance of probabilities.

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Not a bad start to the year, two front page stories in two different papers, in two days on two different issues - quoting me.

Opening the gates of happiness for the New Year. 

In one of those interesting TED talks Nic Marks, the brains behind the pioneering research into the Happy Planet Index, boils down the essential ingredients for happiness to five simple statements.

Connect; Be Active; Take Notice; Keep Learning; Give. 

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Until South Africa heeds the lessons from e-tolling nightmares in Gauteng and beyond, it will be condemned to repeat them

The Gauteng e-tolling saga has become a disaster of titanic proportions for Sanral CEO Nazir Alli.

A century after the sinking of the supposedly unsinkable Titanic, Alli has, with the e-tolling system, steered us into unsafe waters at high speed with overweening faith in technology.

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About John GI Clarke

John Clarke hopes to write the wrongs of the world, informed by his experience as a social worker and theologian, to actualise fundamental human rights and satisfy fundamental human needs.  He has lived in the urbanised concentration of Johannesburg, but has worked mainly in the rural reaches of the Wild Coast for the past decade.  From having paid a fortune in toll fees he believes he has earned the right to be critical of Sanral and other extractive institutions, and has not held back while supporting Sustaining the Wild Coast (, the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute ( and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (, in various ways.