The Ramaphosa Heuristic

Tracking the momentum of Cyril Ramaphosa – his vulnerability to attack within the ANC, his ability and intention to implement structural reforms and accountability for corruption – has become a widely used heuristic for assessing the state of South Africa more generally. A heuristic is a mental shortcut. In this case, it’s a way ofContinue reading “The Ramaphosa Heuristic”

Does the Gordhan correction undo the damage wrought by Nene’s axing?

You might be surprised at how carefully some people who’ve never set foot on these shores, people who are mostly blindingly clever at maths and informed to a scarily deep level about our politics and history and whose job includes trading our currency and bonds, have asked me that headline question in the last week.Continue reading “Does the Gordhan correction undo the damage wrought by Nene’s axing?”

The alliance is dead, Zuma’s dignity saved and SA dams on life support – and how I think I know what I think I know

I wanted to discuss something called heuristics, which refers to the way we make decisions or reach an understanding about something, especially when the matter under consideration is complicated. The word (heuristics) can mean the short cuts we take but the general field also deals with the many errors of thinking to which such short cuts canContinue reading “The alliance is dead, Zuma’s dignity saved and SA dams on life support – and how I think I know what I think I know”

Black Middle class saves our world …. and other plausible hopes for salvation

Greeting … and compliments of the season to you all. I was too busy to post here during the last few months of 2014. I had been writing and then road showing (here and abroad) an argument that suggested pressures acting on the ANC might, ultimately, save the organisation from its slow-motion collapse into whatContinue reading “Black Middle class saves our world …. and other plausible hopes for salvation”

Some thoughts on the ANC, the DA and the EFF

A couple of asides as I tinker away at a framework for assessing Sunday’s Cabinet announcement. The media noise surrounding Helen Zille’s putative attitude towards Lindiwe Mazibuko is interesting, but largely because it is so loud. In the last hour I have been asked twice (by journalists) for an opinion on Mmusi Maimane‘s acceptance of nomination to theContinue reading “Some thoughts on the ANC, the DA and the EFF”

A few (more) deep blue thoughts as we rush towards Mangaung – Part 2

By the way “deep blue” in the headline was not meant to be a riff on IBM’s chess playing supercomputer. Rereading Part 1  I can see how someone might accuse me of being a little too certain about the shape of the future.  I am not running “deep blue” regressions and algorithms, modelling South AfricaContinue reading “A few (more) deep blue thoughts as we rush towards Mangaung – Part 2”

Is it time to sell South Africa ?

I am sometimes tempted to think of myself as a company analyst, with South Africa as my company,  government as management and the currency and bonds as the share price Company analysts make sell, hold or buy recommendations. Obviously a buy means the analyst believes the shares are cheap – in some difficult to determineContinue reading “Is it time to sell South Africa ?”

Are we in the predator’s labyrinth?

Nedbank chairman Reuel Khoza provides the lead headline in today’s Business Day as “warning of a rogue state future for SA”. So imagine if you could, for a moment, that you are playing a sports game. As in a dream, you suddenly realise you don’t know the rules; you don’t know how to score, who’sContinue reading “Are we in the predator’s labyrinth?”

Cosatu, the Democratic Alliance and the middle classes – is it love, actually?

Think of the various interests of classes and groups in our society as constituting an ecology in which political parties and organisations find niches to graze, hunt and be sustained. The system can change and niches shift, narrow or broaden –  and in response the denizens that live in each niche must adapt or becomeContinue reading “Cosatu, the Democratic Alliance and the middle classes – is it love, actually?”

The shape (and size) of things to come

Once a week I take my mother to an audio book library. My car radio only picks up SAFM and because the dreary worthiness of our national broadcaster occasionally tempts me into driving my car off a cliff, I sometimes pick something out for myself. I have recently finished listening to (over and over again – at least eightContinue reading “The shape (and size) of things to come”

Weather – tis nobler in the mind to suffer

In a Woolworths queue in the Gardens Centre yesterday evening I idly picked up the Cape Argus. It’s the only time I actually read anything in that newspaper. I like to casually glance at its headlines during my journey from the beginning of the endless tunnel of sweats sweets (damn morning rush) and magazines. IContinue reading “Weather – tis nobler in the mind to suffer”

The ANC as a proxy for the nation?

It’s tempting to focus on the ANC as if its history and prospects are a proxy for the history and prospects of the country as a whole. The party’s centenary celebrations this week will strengthen the sense that this is indeed the case. The last hundred years of South African history has been about theContinue reading “The ANC as a proxy for the nation?”

Complex, unstable and unpredictable

We are the ape with the pattern recognition dial cranked up high and this has served us well over our evolutionary history. But when we assess risk in systems as complex as the global economy our instinctive wariness at the sudden silence in the Palaeolithic forest is not necessarily useful – and might be partContinue reading “Complex, unstable and unpredictable”