Peter Bruce, veteran South African newspaper editor and commentator, interviews the country's social and political leaders and experts in a weekly effort to exp... More
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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s peace mission to Russia and what the intelligence ministry in his office calls “the” Ukraine next month is headed for the rocks almost before it sets sail. It will make the Russians look good (that’s probably the intent) and the Ukranians couldn’t very well be seen saying No to a whole peace team from Africa. So a game will briefly be played. There’ll be pictures of talks and handshakes and drinks and then everyone will come home. Ramaphosa and the ANC are in it for the rubles. Heaven knows how the rest of the team were persuaded to join him. It doesn’t matter much. The short fact is that until Russia withdraws from the sovereign territory it has occupied there is nothing to talk
A Brigety too far…
Apology or not from the US ambassador in SA, the governments slack handling of the visit of the Russian freighter, the Lady R, to the Simon’s Town naval base last year has become a huge deal from which there is no easy out. The American position continues to be that it strongly believes we have been selling weapons to Russia while it occupies, brutally, vast parts of Ukraine in a war that breaks everything we claim we stand against. Except we stand with Russia. Its commercial ships have special access to our naval base, its president to our president. Its aircraft use our military bases to deliver mail. Our defence minister is a huge fan and as Pretoria tries to squirm away from the notion that we have moved into the Russian came, claiming that we are non-aligned — a meaningless concept when you think that most members of the United Nations are also non-aligned and most have voted more than once to condemn the Russian invasion — the head of the South African army pops up in Moscow to discuss combat readiness which the comrades. We have, to use a maritime phrase, become unmoored from the West and there will be a terrible price to pay...
Leadership is about the country, not the party
The one lesson we can take out of the mess in the Johannesburg City Council is that leadership in local government doesn’t always come with a mayoral chain. The DA is stuck with the notion that because it's the biggest party it should also be the mayor. But that’s being in large. Leadership is something else. As the biggest party in so many vital situations the DA should understand its job as, first, to provide local government stability. It doesn’t matter who the mayor is. And it won’t always matter who the premier is and Cyril Ramaphosa has shown us it certainly doesn’t matter who the president is. “Before you are a leader,” GE CEO Jack Welch said, “success is all about growing yourself. When you are a leader, success is all about growing others.” What matters is the country.
When you see a fork in the road, take it
Trade is the end of the process of dreaming, investing, creating jobs and making things other people want to buy. In South Africa though the obvious seldom has right of way. In this episode of Podcasts from the Edge, South Africa's leading trade consultant, Donald MacKay, head of XA Global Trade Advisors, explains to Peter Bruce just how much delays in making decisions about the imposition of duties or the granting of relief from them is costing local business. Out in rural Eastern Cape, where no-one can hear you scream, MacKay stumbles across the cruel story of the Matador Slagtery, in Somerset East, the town's biggest employer, brought to its knees because officials at the department of trade, industry and competition are 17 months late in compensating the company for duties in posed on imported product otherwise unavailable in the country.
The Book of John
Newly re-elected Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen went out on a very long limb at the end of the party’s Midrand congress on Sunday, putting his job on the line for an extremely short term objective — preventing the formation of a coalition government between the ANC and the EFF after the elections in May next year. That’s not a very long time away and Steenhuisen, declaring the EFF and its leader Julius Malema “political enemy number 1”, has, I think, put his political future and his job on the line with a promise to stop them in their tracks.
It's going to be a big job, especially as he also committed to building an election pact between often warring opposition parties to, in whatever way possible, fight the coming election together. That campaign has already begun. The big question left hanging in the air is whether, if the pact is successful, Steenhuisen would be its presidential candidate.
Peter Bruce, veteran South African newspaper editor and commentator, interviews the country's social and political leaders and experts in a weekly effort to explain what is actually going on in this complicated country. Bruce's interviews are about making events easy to understand for people with little time to listen.