Weekend news wrap up with Bob Mabena – 22 May 2016
On my way back form Dubai into SA, I sat mostly in the business lounge and I could not help but eavesdrop into a conversation between a very sublime Asian guy and a cowboy like – swashbuckling American. At the core of this conversation was the debate as to where their company should invest next. The American was talking up Angola and bemoaning the political and social economic state of SA and thus arguing for Angola and the Asian guy was neutral. I was tempted to enter that debate but I chose instead to shut it and just be an observer; lest I put my foot in it. I do believe that my decision was the correct I one because in order to debate and defend a position one has to have almost unassailable facts. The facts can change anytime too – as they say, a day or even an hour, is too long in politics. You can image then that the first thing I did as I was taxied home, was to get the Sunday papers.
I always start with the tabloids because one can spend at least a maximum of five minutes on them – it’s not tough reading and it’s mostly amusing horse manure gutter journalism. Shifting to the real newspapers, my attention was drawn to the inspiring retirement story of DCJ Dikgang Moseneke – from an exhilarating tribute by Justice Cameron to a punchy and meaty personal account by long time friend, Peter Vundla; this was a fantastic South African story, so tick that one into the positive quadrant.
I read further and it didn’t take long to change my mood – there on the front page of the City Press is the story of an embattled SA Minister of Finance – Pravin Gordhan. As far as this story goes, it would seem the rouge unit set up by SARS is where it all started. Someone doesn’t really like the idea of a super investigations team that deals with extreme white collar crime and actually has the powers of redress. Furthermore, who ever is against the minister iOS irked by the fact that Pravin has the opposition and public ear and support. Add to that, Gordhan’s veiled but sometimes understandable paranoia; what you get is a recipe for innuendo, speculation, counter accusations, in-fighting, a curious media and all of this in the middle of economic perfect storm.Throw that story in the negative quadrant.
Whilst we are on the subject of foreigners discussing our economic outlook; let us not forget about another ratings agency that is coming to these shore. With the backdrop of Moody’s rating us just a notch above Junk status and chalking us stable, we cannot predict how S&P will find. The reason for this is simply that while Moody’s looks at institutions and currency devaluations, S&P will focus more on GDP growth – I know I am putting it simplistically but I think it will suffice for now. My conclusion then is that come June the third, we might see our country’s economy being downgraded by S&P. Let’s throw that one in the negative quadrant.
What a mixed bag of news but how different is it from Uganda, China or even the USA? Not that much, I would argue but what I can say is that travel does broaden the mind. Through travel one gets a better understanding of world issues and what drives those issues. One can compare policies and principles on merit and fact and NOT on emotional thumb sucking. I am indeed glad to be home and to have been given an opportunity to still learn more and be informed so that the next time I open my mouth, I have……….THE FACTS!!