Cornered RET

This piece was written jointly with my colleague Laurent Balt. So where to now for Ace Magashule, and what future for the RET forces? The state of the RET Unpacking the health of an ANC faction nowadays is tricky business, in that they are generally not factions in the traditional political meaning, but rather looseContinue reading “Cornered RET”

Teatime at Nkandla, AstraZeneca and the mutant strain

Tea as theatre I was adamant I wasn’t going to add to the verbiage about the Nkandla tea party. But then City Press led with the headline “THE GREAT TEA PARTY FIGHTBACK” (yes they were shouting) to give voice to the strategist supposedly leading the Zuma and Ace defence league and running the campaign toContinue reading “Teatime at Nkandla, AstraZeneca and the mutant strain”

Key person risk, Molefe’s attack on Ramaphosa and other matters

Some tenuously connected thoughts about political risk and financial markets in recent South African newsflow: For whom the bell tolls The marginal victory of Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC conference at Nasrec in December 2017 immediately raised the matter of ‘key person risk’ inherent in having one portly fellow as the absolute lynchpin of theContinue reading “Key person risk, Molefe’s attack on Ramaphosa and other matters”

Public sector wage bill – slugging it out in Labour Appeals Court

As I write the government and labour are clashing in the virtual Labour Appeal Court, in between freeze frames, dropped connections and the acerbic wit of the inimitable Judge Dennis Davis. In essence: Whether or not the government is able to ‘hold the line’ on freezing the public sector wage bill is the biggest identifiableContinue reading “Public sector wage bill – slugging it out in Labour Appeals Court”

Ace in the hole*

Ace Magashule’s 10th November arrest linked to his involvement in the Asbestos Scandal has the potential to be a seismic political event for South Africa, should he be successfully prosecuted and sentenced. This caveat is important, given both the long-standing capacity constraints at the NPA and the botching of previous state capture prosecutions, including theContinue reading “Ace in the hole*”

Corruption arrests and Land ho!

Several posts will be attempts to catch up on relevant news, and argue why I think these are, or are not, important. This is one of those. Corruption Arrests Do the corruption arrests constitute a step change in attempts to unpick the tangled web of ‘normal state and economic activity’ from rent-seeking and the criminalContinue reading “Corruption arrests and Land ho!”

Ne ne ne Nene

The Minister of Finance, unlikely hero and protector of the public purse, has slipped precipitously in public affections as he apologised for visiting the Guptas while Deputy Minister and his son appeared to be at the centre of a scandal at the PIC, the institution for which the Deputy Minister of Finance is responsible –Continue reading “Ne ne ne Nene”

Counterrevolution and the Tiffany Smith & Wesson

The counter revolution is not gonna headline the Sunday Times That Sunday organ is a well established field of play for leaks from factions struggling for power in and around the ANC – and, just as an aside, proved itself most obliging to the whole State Capture initiative by assisting the decimation of SARS throughContinue reading “Counterrevolution and the Tiffany Smith & Wesson”

Zexit? Make me …

The last two weeks have been given over to overoptimistic outpourings of happiness. Here is the grumpy note I put out on April Fool’s Day as the aforementioned came out skipping into the park, hope reliably triumphing over experience: The Constitutional Court ruling against Jacob Zuma yesterday is another significant blow to his credibility and will reflectContinue reading “Zexit? Make me …”

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?”

‘Tis reasonable to hope this might be the season to be (faintly) jolly

For those who were tortured by my somnolently incoherent post last night, here is the follow up. Hopefully a little clearer. The flip-flops around the Minister of Finance leave Jacob Zuma looking weak and vulnerable. There are grounds to begin questioning whether he will see out his full term. The appointment of Pravin Gordhan isContinue reading “‘Tis reasonable to hope this might be the season to be (faintly) jolly”

Overreach – how generals, tyrants and puffed up fools implode

Business Day  this morning published an article suggesting that Nhlanhla Nene was on the verge of being shuffled out of his Minister of Finance position to some face-saving backwater. I wrote early last week in a client note: “It is widely held that the National Treasury and Minister Nhlanhla Nene have come under hostile pressure forContinue reading “Overreach – how generals, tyrants and puffed up fools implode”

The race is on …

… but it’s difficult to know who to back Thank you Mail and Guardian for publishing the story we all wanted even though you have probably broken the whole cannon of ethics in journalism. The story to which I refer, titled “Ramaphosa starts fight for top job”, was published in the print edition of the aforesaid newspaper on November 13,Continue reading “The race is on …”

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”

That’s nothing! I remember ….

There were several times last week when I felt admiration for the protesting students, including those who crashed through the gates of parliament and, quite bravely in many cases, stood up to the SAPS’s counter attack, stun grenades and all. I admit to some brief, irresponsible, trickster elation – Loki let loose upon the world – good for them …Continue reading “That’s nothing! I remember ….”