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Tito Mboweni’s Beyoncé moment and other news you need to know

Hi there! ?? 

Here’s our latest edition of news you need to know on Verationality – Simple news summaries for busy people ??‍♀️  

Here are the biggest news items this week, and an emoji indicator of how good they were for the average citizen:

  • 1. Bosasa boss Gavin Watson’s freak death hours before testifying ?
  • 2. Tito Mboweni just Beyoncé-ed us with a killer economic proposal ?
  • 3. 65% of senior management positions are still occupied by white people ?
  • 4. A hate speech case is being deliberated in the Constitutional Court for the first time ?

Let’s dive into those items, what to expect for the week ahead AND your inspiration for the week. 

? `For a written version of this update, keep scrolling.

? For an audio version, listen to the podcast below.

THE REAL TAKEAWAY FROM GAVIN WATSON’S DEATH ⚰️

The CEO of controversial company Bosasa Gavin Watson died in what some think were suspicious circumstances. He drove into a pillar near the airport in Joburg in the early hours of Monday morning, a day before he was due to testify at an inquiry. There are enough dubious details for conspiracy theories to abound. However, the most telling detail for me was this: The Sunday Times pieced together his last few hours and it seems he was using WhatsApp moments before the crash. My takeaway: don’t text and drive, kids. More interesting than the conspiracy theories however, is the story of the Watsons themselves: God-fearing non-racialists who fought apartheid and stood in solidarity with black South Africans, but whose son Gavin strayed so far from the family ethos, with a “Bible in one hand and a bag of money in the other” as the Sunday Times obituary put it. You can read a bit about it in this Daily Maverick piece.

THIS ECONOMIC PROPOSAL MAY BE JUST WHAT WE NEED ???

On Tuesday Finance Minister Tito Mboweni dropped a pretty compelling and drastic economic proposal for SA that has everyone talking. The paper proposes the creation of policies that will improve SA’s economic growth by 2.3 percentage points and create 1-million jobs. It came out of the blue “like a surprise Beyoncé album” as one serious analyst hilariously put it. It speaks to the action we’ve LONG needed. While many in government and the ANC bemoaned the document’s sudden arrival, Mboweni gave these criticisms short shrift, saying the time to move is now, and SA can no longer wait. He’s right. Our economic slowdown over the past few years has meant that our public debt has BALLOONED as this crazy graph from City Press shows.

SA’s debt repayments are now the same as our health bill and TWICE that of higher education! President Cyril Ramaphosa’s slow and careful long game may not work and I’m here for Mboweni taking the initiative and sidestepping the bureaucrats and ministers – most of whom missed repeated deadlines to offer submissions to the proposal. This led Mboweni to publish it directly to the public for comment, leaving the bureaucrats to catch up. For a good summary of the proposal, check out this Business Insider article.

Mboweni’s proposal includes:

  • Partially privatising Eskom, by selling off its coal-powered stations with set contracts in place to provide power to government, potentially raising R450-billion to tackle the paralysed utility’s enormous debt, which could take the country down with it. The M&G has a great explainer on that here. It’s behind a paywall for now but should be available soon.
  • Tackling SA’s expensive broadband by inviting more competition. A 10% increase in fixed broadband penetration leads to a 1.35% increase in GDP growth in developing countries and a 1.19% increase in developed economies, Treasury notes.
  • Growing tourism by changing visa rules and improving tourism safety
  • Cutting the red tape to really free up small businesses. The document proposes small businesses can be exempt from onerous labour laws that prevent many small business owners from hiring more people.

Naturally, these and other measures, which are hardly right-wing but caricatured as such, have lit a fire. Here are the main three responses:

  1. Come cabinet ministers who say they needed more than the several months they were given to engage the proposal. Those jokers. Also, enraged unions and the left, who don’t seem to understand that we need to shed some jobs to create more jobs. 
  2. Others – like the DA, government ministers, business and many analysts – have welcomed the proposal. Intellidex analyst Peter Attard Montalto called it “incendiary, but marvellously evidence-based”. Some are concerned it may not see the light of the day while others say it needs urgent implementation. 
  3. Still, other experts, like the director for the Centre of Economic Development (he of the amazing Beyoncé comparison) agree on the action needed but believe the proposal is flawed… I guess that’s what the call for submissions is for. 

You can decide for yourself. Go here to get a copy of the plan. Mboweni wants your input after all. 

Comments can be sent to Rita.Coetzee@treasury.gov.za by 15 September 2019.

SENIOR MANAGEMENT IN SA REMAINS UNTRANSFORMED ?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️??‍♀️

An employment equity report form 2018/19 shows that 65.5% of senior management positions are occupied by white people. White people were also the biggest beneficiaries of recruitment, skills development and promotions. The report has been done 19 times since 1994 and transformation in senior management is depressingly slow. Government is looking at ways to improve this but right now many companies simply budget for the fines. If you’re a white person reading this, think about how you can share your platform with others, perhaps through mentoring a person of colour and helping them get ahead. Read more about this story here.

HATE SPEECH AGAINST JEWISH PEOPLE? ✡

A hate speech case has made its way right up to our top court, for the first time. The constitutional court will decide whether remarks made by a pro-Palestine Cosatu leader amount to hate speech directed at Jewish people. It’s pretty explosive stuff but could provide some clarity on an otherwise unclear Equality Act. Read more about it here.

GOOD NEWS:

Former Business Day editor Peter Bruce column, commenting on Mboweni’s proposal, made an aside about SA’s economy that I thought was worth sharing: 

“We’re a major mining and agricultural economy, we have world-class financial institutions and some pretty good infrastructure. We’re a natural tourist destination attracting just a fraction of potential visitors. We have a small but perfectly formed auto industry with the workers in it ranking among the best in the world.”

And, if you’re a fan of science fiction, check out this lovely article from New Frame: “The future of Sci Fi is African”

“Science fiction by Africans and set on the continent is gaining international recognition as it shows how racist, predatory colonialism makes itself felt in future worlds.”

COMING UP:

There will be continued reaction to Mboweni’s economic proposal plus a busy week in parliament. Global leaders known as the Elders are expected in SA this week in support of the National Health Insurance (NHI), including the former prime minister of Norway and Graca Machel. Expect to hear a global take on the need for quality universal health care. 

The biggest news, however, is Tuesday’s announcement of how well our economy fared in the second quarter of 2019. We’re expected to have avoided a technical recession, and expected to have expanded by 2.5%. This after the depressing GDP figures for the first quarter, which were the worst in a decade. 

That’s it for this week! Thanks so much for engaging with this channel.

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