To my mind

Finweek English Edition - - Front Page - COLLEEN NAUDÉ colleenn@fin­week.co.za

VOICES ARE qui­etly and grad­u­ally be­ing raised which show that com­mon sense is start­ing to pre­vail in sev­eral ar­eas. It’s all the more heart­en­ing that those voices are em­a­nat­ing from the ranks of staunch ANC sup­port­ers. When some­body like Al­lan Boe­sak says in a ra­dio talk show that Gov­ern­ment is start­ing to no­tice through “dam­age and dis­grace” that it’s made a “fun­da­men­tal mis­take” in driv­ing skilled peo­ple out of the coun­try through the in­ju­di­cious im­ple­men­ta­tion of af­fir­ma­tive action it nat­u­rally has far more im­pact than if the same state­ment had come from the ranks of the op­po­si­tion.

Al­though that state­ment can’t have an im­me­di­ate ef­fect in rev­ers­ing the danger­ous staff de­cline at SAA Tech­ni­cal it can help pre­vent the un­bri­dled ero­sion of vi­tal skills. In the case of an air­line, a lack of skills and a low­er­ing of stan­dards could lead to the dis­turb­ing pos­si­bil­ity of an air­craft crash­ing as a re­sult of poor main­te­nance.

Though less spec­tac­u­lar, the ef­fects of a lack of judg­ment on the part of Gov­ern­ment can be equally de­struc­tive. Ed­u­ca­tion is one of the ar­eas where Gov­ern­ment has failed dis­mally – an­other rea­son for the con­sid­er­able lack of skills in this coun­try.

It’s heart­en­ing that highly re­garded women such as Mam­phela Ram­phele and Wendy Luhabe not only crit­i­cised SA’s flawed ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem but went as far as to de­clare the hated Bantu ed­u­ca­tion of the apartheid regime meant more to them than what was cur­rently be­ing dished up to chil­dren in town­ship schools.

Even though the open dis­cus­sions this past week­end in the old women’s prison on Con­sti­tu­tion Hill, in which eight prom­i­nent South Africans touched on var­i­ous con­tentious is­sues, pos­si­bly had a lot to do with the power strug­gle within the ANC they can’t be dis­missed as mere pol­i­tick­ing. No – far too many un­pop­u­lar yet sober­ing pro­nounce­ments were made.

A week or so ago it also seemed that voices from civil so­ci­ety were taken se­ri­ously: the dreaded ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill, which would give the rel­e­vant min­is­ter the power to ex­pro­pri­ate any prop­erty if it served the “pub­lic in­ter­est”, was halted. Com­mon sense also tri­umphed in Par­lia­ment last week when the health com­mit­tee scrapped the con­tro­ver­sial Medicines and Re­lated Sub­stances Amend­ment Bill, which would have given the Health Min­is­ter the power to de­cide on the regis­tra­tion of new sub­stances, again on the ba­sis of the de­light­fully vague for­mu­la­tion of “pub­lic in­ter­est”.

It’s heart­en­ing that ill-con­ceived leg­is­la­tion has been sti­fled and that Gov­ern­ment lis­tens to the well-founded com­plaints of con­cerned South Africans. It’s a healthy de­vel­op­ment when Gov­ern­ment’s loyal sup­port­ers start tackling is­sues such as the dire state of ed­u­ca­tion and reck­less af­fir­ma­tive action.

Without it the coun­try – and not just SA Air­ways – would be head­ing for dis­as­ter. Price in­crease INFLATION HAS also af­fected Fin­week. The price in­crease from R14 to R14,95 – ef­fec­tive from Septem­ber – is, at 6,79%, a mere frac­tion of ris­ing costs we have to bat­tle with. How­ever, we hope our read­ers will find the in­crease is dwarfed by the ex­ten­sive fi­nan­cial, eco­nomic and in­vest­ment in­sight the mag­a­zine of­fers.

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