HAS the finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, given up? That is certainly the view of some among us after a mini-budget in the National Assembly last week that was, by all accounts, a little short on moment. You have to feel for him. Gordhan’s presence, in almost any significant government, would confer on it a huge advantage. In an ANC government he is judged not by his intellect but by the fact that he is not a party hack. He is there because he worked underground, as it were, with President Jacob Zuma. He has no "constituency".
Well he does have a constituency — it’s the rest of the country bar its ruling party, willing him on to success. And it’s probably true that, as he intimated, South Africa is not about to fall off a cliff, fiscal or otherwise. It may seem odd, but I cannot help looking at the chaos in the mining industry, the death, the violence and the threats, and thinking that it will pass. It is almost as though it is so insane and irrational (and in the knowledge that this country spends half its life in the insane and irrational lane) that you know it isn’t the End of Everything. It’s not even the Beginning of the End, except perhaps for the National Union of Mineworkers.
Anyone packing for Perth? You’d be mad to. Property is cheap here again, black and white South Africans are getting on better than they could have hoped, and the longer the unguided missile that is the ANC obliges us to call Zuma "Mr President" the quicker it will race its way out of its parliamentary majority. Emigration is stupid.
The other reason Gordhan may have been right to be relaxed is that he knows, and anyone over 50 who’s been paying attention knows, that economies move in cycles. This, along with almost everyone else’s economy, will turn. It’s hard to appreciate when you’re at the bottom of the cycle, but a cycle it is and it’s been there for all of human history.
I reckon 2014 is when we will start to turn. But it will be despite, not because of, the Zuma administration. It seems to become more incoherent by the day. How does the communications minister pitch up at a Telkom AGM and demand the right to vote against a resolution for which her department has already submitted proxies in favour? There is no plan for Telkom, just as there is no plan for SAA. But neither can fall into private hands. Investors not welcome.
Let’s see what happens.
I suspect there might one day, before Zuma rides off into the Nkandla sunset, be a Great Disposing of so-called strategic assets into the hands of friends. They deny it, but the Guptas are often rumoured to be interested in all or part of SAA.
Gordhan’s lot is to watch all this unfold, to watch the waste of money, the idiotic appointments, the universal incompetence, and to paint a veneer of respectability over it all. He has his own thoughts about pulling the country together, but Zuma is way too consumed with his own future to listen. Luckily for Gordhan the private sector in South Africa is still strong and well managed, pumping out the profits that pay the taxes that Jacob Zuma spends on himself.
OK, SO Western Province were deserved winners in Durban on Saturday. For a Sharks fan like me it was worse than being beaten by the Lions in the 2011 final.
But it was a great showcase, though I can’t understand why the Sharks played so poorly. There is so much rugby talent in this country. I wish we could hire a foreign coach who could reward rugby skill and not his friends. Juan de Jongh is fabulous and I’m sure I’ve seen him slice up a defence like that before somewhere.
As for Patrick Lambie, he was good when his forwards were running over Province, but, crucially, he was still good when the Sharks were defending. Two pressure kicks — a light tap from inside his 25-metre line that nearly resulted in a try, and a long kick cross-field to win a line-out his team-mates probably lost.
Pure class. Obviously one for the current national coach to ignore.