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President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle is confirmation  of the end of rationality in our politics. The firing of the finance minister Pravin Gordhan and other cabinet ministers at a time when the country needs responsible and effective leadership in the economy shows the extent to which Zuma is disconnected…
The resignation of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO last week leaves more questions than answers. It is still not clear that he is aware of the magnitude of the damage that his leadership has caused to the state utility’s reputation and morale. What about the rest of the board members…
South Africa is not producing enough school leavers who are competent in maths and science. This is a fact borne out by international assessments such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. These show that South Africa is not…
In times of crisis budget speeches are usually a lugubrious affair. The first by finance minister Pravin Gordhan since his return to the post is somewhat cheerful.   He did well to highlight the tough economic times we are in, but did not compound the gloom with big announcements of…
A WEEK from now, President Jacob Zuma will deliver his state of the nation address amid a gloomy economic outlook. While the focus for many will be on what he says about the economy, it is worth remembering that our limping economy reflects the morbid state of our politics.  …
AFRICAN leaders need to look beyond China for the continent’s long-term development. Next week, SA will be co-hosting the Sixth Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. While China’s relationship with Africa has broadly been beneficial, there are worrying movements in this tango.   It is widely recognised that Africa’s impressive economic growth…
CAN the Group of 20 (G-20) boost confidence in emerging markets? This weekend G-20 leaders gather in Antalya, Turkey, to talk up the global economy. The host is emphasising inclusiveness, implementation and investment.   Specifically, Turkey has brought to the heart of the agenda the need to boost small and…
THE recent student protests were a reminder of how slow progress has been in restructuring national institutions in general, and higher education in particular, during the past 20 years. While unhappiness over fee increases and upfront payments at registration were a proximate cause of the protests, there is something deeper…
THE brunt of tax avoidance by big corporations falls heavily on poor countries, with long-term effects on growth and social stability. African countries are the poorer for it. The recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) action plan on base erosion and profit shifting, adopted by Group of 20…
AGITATION for transformation across various spheres of society is reaching fever pitch. The spotlight is shining intensely, particularly on the economy, corporate boardrooms and historically white universities and sporting codes.   Judge Ntendeya Mavundla, who was this week hearing a matter brought by the Agency for a New Agenda concerning…
THE brunt of tax avoidance by big corporations falls heavily on poor countries, with long-term effects on growth and social stability. African countries are the poorer for it. The recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) action plan on base erosion and profit shifting, adopted by Group of 20…
MOUNTING costs, falling commodity prices, regulatory uncertainty, unreliable energy and weak infrastructure are throttling the mining industry and threatening its long-term viability.   The failure of SA’s mining sector will have a snowball effect on the rest of the economy. For a start, the banking sector will feel the pinch.…
FOREIGN policy thinking in the African National Congress (ANC) has reached new heights of confusion. There is one glaring thrust in the ANC’s discussion document on international relations: the party is redefining SA as a client state to serve Chinese and Russian interests. Significant space is devoted to extolling these…
One of the remarkable outcomes of the climate change negotiations in Paris is an initiative launched by 28 billionaires on the sidelines of COP21 to push for an increase in funding for clean energy technologies.   The Breakthrough Energy Coalition was pioneered by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. It is aware…
“Change”, as James Kouzes and Barry Posner remind us, “is the province of leaders.” Leaders across different domains – politics, corporate, and civic spheres – are always faced with the challenge of managing change or creating one. If leaders are not preoccupied with change, they should not be in a…
Russia’s economy is facing a precipice. Food shortages and much lower standards of living for ordinary citizens lurk on the horizon. Inflation is mounting. There is dark foreboding about the country’s future. In the face of ongoing standoff with the West over Ukraine and very low oil prices, there is…
There are conflicting views about how Cecil John Rhodes’ legacy should be evaluated. The proximate issue in the current debate raging at the University of Cape Town (UCT) is whether the statue of a figure as divisive as Rhodes should continue to form the centrepiece of that university twenty years…
One of the very difficult things to do in political commentary is try to explain to an outsider the rapid pace of institutional regression in South Africa, and why shoddy decisions are taken instead of sensible ones. This difficulty became glaring while I addressed an audience made up of academics,…
“Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future. And time future contained in time past”. This timeless verse by T.S. Eliot offers a lens through which to grapple with our degenerative political culture. There are portentous signs that can be gleaned from the recent political fallout…
It was the Scottish-American steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, who once remarked: “He who dies with wealth, dies with shame.” It is a statement that became an article of faith for many conscientious businessmen who came to understand that they had a bigger role to play in society than simply running…
Finance ministers occupy a critical position in the hierarchy of policy and decision-making. They are not just technocrats but leaders, who manage a delicate balance between the global vicissitudes and domestic economic imperatives. As economic czars, they are responsible for turning around faltering economies.   Prominent finance ministers who, in…
On the New Year’s Eve, the highly driven DIRCO minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, offered some reflections on South Africa’s foreign policy. She made a number of points, many of which were aspirational. Most notably, Nkoana-Mashabane affirmed the National Development Programme as a framework that “guide our actions and set priorities for…
In recent times, agencies that were created to protect citizens, fight organized crime, and smash corruption, have come under a dark cloud. Political infighting, factionalism, and dirty tricks at the top levels have become the norm. Instead of setting their sight on criminals and the corrupt, these institutions are caught…
Recently, a friend quipped cynically that Gwede Mantashe must have encouraged the leaks of a dodgy tender that was awarded to a company in which his family members are involved. According to the legend, Mantashe saw this as a perfect opportunity to bolster his presidential credentials in a country where…
As a nation we have come a long way in dismantling the legal infrastructure of apartheid and racism, something that is worth reflecting in the two decades of our democracy. This, of course, was not a walk in the park, but exacted a great deal of sacrifice, where political leaders…
This extract from the book ‘The Fall of the ANC’ by Prince Mashele and Mzukisi Qobo describes SA society in crisis in the ‘God help us’ scenario.   Society in the next 20 years is likely to reflect a magnified picture of the macro-social trends that already characterise South Africa…
TWO young, highly educated intellectuals — with masters’ degrees and a PhD in political science in spite of growing up in shacks — share a deep determination to see South Africa become a better country. But they do not believe it can happen under the ANC government.Prince Mashele and Mzukisi…