Event date: 28 July 2016
RW Johnson’s 2015 book – “How Long will South Africa Survive?”, with its prediction of an IMF bailout for the country within two years, was widely read and debated in business circles. Therefore the author and political scientist’s appearance as guest speaker at July’s Chamber Members’ networking event in Cape Town was eagerly anticipated. Seeking temporary comfort in the roaring fire and red wine, some members admitted to ‘bracing themselves’ for a somewhat depressing outlook. Instead the former Oxford don’s talk was insightful, disarming, and ultimately reassuring.
He charted a course from the ANC’s beginnings to its current situation, addressing patronage networks and the shift of power to KZN along the way. He outlined four factors that will be essential to SA attracting badly needed long term investment. Simply put these are – the liberalisation of our labour laws; ‘sorting out’ our state-owned enterprises; the reduction of our civil service bill; and ‘fixing’ the education system. Referring to the local elections taking place a week later, he asserted that South African society is too urbanised and industrialised to allow the ‘perversion of democracy that we have seen in Zimbabwe’. It was evident from the buzz of conversation in the room as RW Johnson’s talk ended, that it had certainly provided food for thought.