Only re­cently did this scribe, a na­tive of that great tech­nol­ogy hub, the Transkei Wild Coast, take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by the world of au­dio books. Hav­ing some­one read to me while I drive means, of course, I must forgo the plea­sure of Fela Kuti singing to me when I am be­hind the wheel.

This way of read­ing, I must say, is much safer and more com­fort­able than read­ing while on horse­back, look­ing af­ter my grand­fa­ther’s cat­tle back home; or try­ing to read while rid­ing my bi­cy­cle to school. Even read­ing while in a train car­riage wasn’t this com­fort­able. Au­dio books have trans­formed driv­ing into a pro­duc­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in which one may fit in some more read­ing while in tran­sit. I di­gress . . .

In the of­fice last week I read Malusi Gi­gaba’s “in­clu­sive growth ac­tion plan”, with which the fi­nance min­is­ter hopes to kick-start eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and help pull SA out of the re­ces­sion and away from junk sta­tus. But when I heard nar­ra­tor Grover Gardner dish­ing out smart fi­nan­cial tips from The Rich­est Man in Baby­lon, writ­ten by Ge­orge S Cla­son, I was left won­der­ing who ad­vises our min­is­ter. This was days af­ter he had dished out an­other R2.2bn of our money to that deep, dark hole called SA Air­ways.

“Could a loan be well made if the bor­rower can­not re­pay?” asks a gold lender in the book, ques­tion­ing the wis­dom of dish­ing out loans (or eq­uity) to bor­row­ers who can­not re­pay them. “Must not the lender be wise and judge care­fully if his gold can per­form a use­ful pur­pose to the bor­rower, and re­turn to him once more? Or whether it will be wasted by one un­able to use it wisely and leave him without his trea­sure and leave the bor­rower with debt he can’t re­pay?”

It would seem that Gi­gaba, the keeper of SA’S trea­sures, needs to have this book read to him.

Since it is avail­able in au­dio form, it would not nec- es­sar­ily in­ter­fere with his no-doubt-busy sched­ule. This means he can be read to and lis­ten while he is be­ing fer­ried to the she­been in Sax­on­wold. Even while there, Gardner’s golden voice can eas­ily re­place the mu­sic blar­ing from the speak­ers while he waits for the rest of the crew.

Just as my driv­ing time has be­come even more prof­itable and en­joy­able, drink­ing time at the Sax­on­wold She­been can al­ter the course of our eco­nom­ics for the bet­ter, in ad­di­tion to de­light­ing the soul.

If the com­rades who fre­quent the place al­low them­selves to im­bibe a chap­ter of Cla­son’s book each day (it takes just 10 min­utes), they may even walk out with bet­ter fi­nan­cial man­age­ment skills.

Soft sup­port

In his “in­clu­sive growth ac­tion plan”, Gi­gaba hints that he will lend more fi­nan­cial sup­port, al­beit “soft” sup­port, to our other state-owned com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Eskom. And, as has be­come cus­tom, the fi­nance min­is­ter will not al­low the bank­rupt Pet­rosa oil com­pany to go bust. More gold will be thrown in that hole, too. Did I men­tion the SABC?

While SAA and Pet­rosa are the hope­less bor­row­ers that de­serve no fur­ther gold in Cla­son’s book, Eskom can get its gold from the mar­ket if it is given worth­while guardians to safe­guard its for­tunes.

But in­stead of be­ing wasted on the dens of cor­rup­tion that our state-owned com­pa­nies have be­come, this gold, and its chil­dren and their chil­dren, as Cla­son puts it, can be put to bet­ter use to pull the na­tion out of the mire of un­em­ploy­ment, poverty and crim­i­nal­ity in which it finds it­self.

If we do th­ese things, in­vest­ing our trea­sures in wor­thier causes than SAA and Pet­rosa, we may all end up en­joy­ing the good things in life, such as quaffing the smoothest tip­ple money can buy while dis­cussing high-level eco­nom­ics at the she­been.

‘Must not the lender judge if his gold can per­form a use­ful pur­pose to the bor­rower, and re­turn to him once more?’

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