Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

Two recent national elections, in Argentina & The Netherlands have delivered surprising results and Greg Krumbock, the DA election manager believes that SA is in for a surprise too. He believes the ANC will poll less than 40% at our election due in the next few months. The election date could be as early as May or as late as August, but no later than that.  From recent polls Krumbock has gleaned that currently the ANC has 39% and the DA 32% of the vote and he believes a coalition government is going to be the most likely result in SA.

Rapport on the weekend reported on the 2-year long study of our economy by Prof Hausmann, the world famous political economist. He comes to the conclusion that patronage is killing our economy and the ANC is to blame.

The report highlights how cadre deployment has killed any hope for the economy. Then the forceful implementation of BEE (black economic empowerment) policy is sending us rapidly to State Failure. BEE leads to ‘tenderpreneurs’ and especially in the power sector. There they have been a major reason for the dramatic decline in our capacity to deliver. Andre de Ruyter, former Eskom CEO now lecturing at Yale, reckons that 1 billion Rand is lost every month because of these middlemen who don’t contribute in any way but feed off Eskom’s tenders and procurements. Here the coal supply chain and logistics operations are most to blame. 

We need the police & NPA to step up and effectively investigate and prosecute, but mostly we need a change of government, urgently.

Ricardo Hausmann, the economics prof at Harvard University’s Growth Lab has been busy dissecting our economy for two years (mostly with Ann Bernstein’s Centre of Development and Enterprise) and his report is depressing. SA faces deteriorating social indicators and declining levels of public satisfaction and we are facing collapsing State capacity. Why?

Hausmann lists several reasons such as, again, our “tenderpreneur economy”. He also suggests that electricity power plants should be rented to private operators. Not surprisingly he is highly critical of “preferential procurement rules” (B-BEEE).

It is a deep article which I can pass on if you wish to read it. 

Headline news in several newspapers this week confirmed Hausmann’s assessment and reports were about the perilous financial state SA finds itself in. SA faces deteriorating social indicators and decreasing levels of satisfaction.  The other person featuring in this depressing news is Michael Sacks, ex SARS (the Treasury) and now at Wits who agrees with this depressing news.

Then the surprising increase of Rand-millionaires in the numbers of our State officials is highlighted in an article by Jan de Lange in Rapport last week.  He was reporting on Michael Sacks’ presentation to SCOPA (Standing Committee on Public Accounts) in parliament. Sacks highlighted the growing National debt and the disastrous consequences that it will bring. De Lange is surprised that this criticism of the Treasury did not attract much response. He believes it should have made the headlines in all the papers. 

What is almost certain is that SA has spent (wasted?) itself into a position that is not going to be easy to recover from.

City Press on Sunday followed up on Hausmann’s report with its front page screaming “South Africa is its own worst enemy”. It refers to the report and points out how unconstitutional cadre deployment as practised by the ANC is. Further in the paper there are reports on how certain well-established construction companies will not undertake contracts in some provinces, KZN being one. The reason? …… the ‘construction mafia’; the gangs who demand “commissions” or else. The ‘or else’ is a death sentence. It is mostly ‘politicians’, councilors and people in control (gang bosses) who get gunned down. Here life is cheap.

According to the latest Crime Stats from the South African Police Service (SAPS), violent crime dropped 3.81% from 6,424 in Q1 2022/23 to 6,228 in 2023/24 in Q1 2023/24. This means that, on average, 68 murders occurred in South Africa everyday from April to June 2023. Our police commissioner, is delighted that the figures are coming down. But look at this cartoon from Brandan in  Business Day on Monday and add the attempted murders to that daily figure. It is unbelievable!

There is also a gloomy outlook for S African kids. A figure that shocked me this week was that only 31% (dept of statistics) of black children in our country grow up with a father in the home. That, to a large extent, explains the poor education of the mainly black population. Does that also explain the high crime rate? The figure for white and Asian kids growing up who have a father in the home is over 80%.

The report further shows that 4.8 million children in SA live in poverty.

The NPA have let us down badly again. Matshela Koko—former head of Eskom, whose 26 year-old daughter has become a billionaire through benefitting from tenders—has had the charges against him of fraud, corruption & money-laundering struck off the roll. The prosecuting authority has simply taken too long and the magistrate is ‘gatvol’ of the delays. 

I do expect to hear from the NPA again, though, about re-instating those charges…….this matter can  not be left to go away.

Tom Evans is a British elite athlete and he was in Cape Town to partake in the UTCT (Ultra trail Cape Town) event. He decided to do a practice run on Friday on the Table Mountain trail and was robbed and badly beaten up by armed robbers. He was very hurt and they took everything he had on him. It was a nightmare event in real life. Luckily he is alive and on Monday he flew back to England. 

He is not the first such case in the National Park of Table Mountain to be attacked. It is happening far too often. If only we had a decent police force. And can you imagine the effect such reports have on tourism.

Israel is losing the propaganda war badly. Why is the press not repeatedly corrected each time it refers to Gaza as occupied? Israel withdrew all its citizens (some screaming and fighting) 20 years ago and Gaza is now not occupied but run by Hamas terrorists. The Hamas leaders are well-known terrorists who shield themselves in the heart of Gaza amongst the citizens to make it difficult to be captured. 

On Monday Israel recalled its Ambassador to SA ahead of the BRICS meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Gaza war. Here the anti Israel temperature rises with the on going war and with every success Israel has in routing out the criminals.

Tuesday’s Beeld newspaper takes a poke at SA ‘neutrality’ in the war with this cartoon from Niel van Vuuren: Ramaphosa preaches neutrality but his actions speak anything but. 

Translation: = Oh the sanktimoniousness….. 

Cyril “The Gaza conflict must not divide the Nation”               Fellow bending over asks “is that not an Arab keffiah that Cyril is wearing ?”

On Tuesday our MPs voted in parliament to close off all ties with Israel. Some of the speeches were vitriolic and I switched my TV to a different channel.  

There is too much hate in the world. And the world is becoming more & more anti-Semitic. I image this is what 1933 in Europe must have been like.

Much news this week has been about our inability to export our goods. Our ports are another dismal effect of poor leadership. The congestion at all our ports is chaotic. With rail not running trucks have to bank behind each other for miles. Truck drivers have to sleep in their trucks so as not to lose their place in  the line and have sometimes days to wait to drop off their loads. It can take up to 10 days to clear a load at Richard’s Bay. Cape Town is not much better. One can see many container ships waiting for clearance to enter the harbour on any day at all. Yesterday an official in Durban calculated that  71,000 containers are waiting to be cleared.

The Usual Suspects met for lunch yesterday. Again no agenda just a chat. We were all present except for Kenny but he will be with us next week for Robin’s birthday lunch.

On the sporting front, not much to rapport on. No Springboks, no Proteas and no Spurs. Australia surprised India, the out and out favourites in the final of the 50 over World Cup (ODI) but the coach stayed home and I got to bed early.

As always,                                                                               


Email:     Phone: +27 82 557 5775
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One thought on “The Week That Was”
  1. I wonder if an election in which the anc is eased out would be sufficient to generate the change required for the country? Are we not going to need something more substantial such as default on national debt and the appearance of the IMF to direct what happens?
    Even then reform will be extremely difficult; the anc has stripped the country of the required human capital?

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