Podcasts from the Edge

Peter Bruce, veteran South African newspaper editor and commentator, interviews the country's social and political leaders and experts in a weekly effort to explain what is actually going on in this complicated country. Bruce's interviews are about making events easy to understand for people with little time to listen.

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29
NOV
2021

Our Hiding To Nothing

Peter Bruce talks exclusively to Wits vaccinologist and Dean of medicine Prof Shabir Madhi about our response to the Omicron Covid variant. And there is good news and bad (beyond that fact that Japan has entirely closed its borders, including to the economies that have shut SA out). First, early outbreaks with the variant appear to be relatively mild, at least among vaccinated people. Madhi reckons it could take two to three weeks to see what kinds of pressure hospitals come under. The bad news is that we don’t know enough yet. Madhi warns people who have had just one shot of the John & Johnson jab need another one and that two shots of the Pfizer vaccine provide much greater protection. He hopes the government soon imposes vaccine mandates for entry into shopping malls, Post Offices and the like (but not hospitals). And, he says, get the hospitals prepared. One of the first ways of doing that is to clear your trauma unit, a move which always end up with restrictions on alcohol sales. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
22
NOV
2021

And now? What happens now?

Is South Africa in a growth crisis or a debt crisis? Economists and experts wildly disagree. One important figure pressing the government to provide more social relief in the face of widening poverty and hardship is former investment banker Colin Coleman. Listen in to this edition of Podcasts from the Edge as Peter Bruce and Coleman, a strong supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa, clamber over the rocky terrain SA and Ramaphosa find under their feet. Do we have a debt problem, a growth problem or a leadership problem? Coleman concedes Ramaphosa has been slow but insists real growth is within reach.
16
NOV
2021

Austerity in SA? It’s just not happening...

If you’re on the Left, or trying to score quick political points, then President Cyril Ramaphosa is imposing a harsh period of fiscal austerity on South Africa. If you’re in the sensible middle, he is doing nothing of the sort. South Africa is already spending more than it earns, as our constant budget deficit proves. Listen as Peter Bruceasks his favourite economist, Thabi Leoko, why she responded so sharply last month to suggestions from former Goldman Sachs SA chief Colin Coleman that over and above current deficit spending, much more was required in order to stimulate the economy back into growth….
25
OCT
2021

Stop squatting on South Africa’s spectrum

Listen in as digital entrepreneur and former FNB CEO Michael Jordan joins Peter Bruce on Podcasts From the Edge to make an impassioned plea for Icasa, the telecommunications regulator, to stand up to local cellphone giants and retrieve extra digital spectrum loaned out at the start of the Covid pandemic. Telkom and MTN have gone to court to stop Icasa taking back the emergency spectrum it lent them early last year. But this, warns Jordan, threatens a a major economic reform — a planned auction of spectrum to the private sector by the end of the first quarter of next year and, he says, a competitive auction process could see a host of new opportunities open up in the market.
18
OCT
2021

Earth to ANC: Avoid disappointment - lower your expectations

The last election Jacob Zuma fought as leader of the ANC were the local government polls on 2016. The ANC vote collapsed to just over 54% nationally and set off a series of events that eventually saw him removed from office. Listen now as razor-sharp independent elections analyst Dawie Scholtz (@DawieScholtz on Twitter) tells Peter Bruce in this latest edition of Podcasts from the Edge that 54% at the 2021 local government elections on November 1 would be almost miraculous, so great has been the change in our political landscape. Scholtz and Bruce test the Democratic Alliance’s battle to bring out its base, perhaps especially the Afrikaans -speaking part of it, and the increasingly sophisticated strategising of the Economic Freedom Fighters as they try to plug the gaps in their constituency — women and the elderly.
05
OCT
2021

The DA may not have an economic policy but its message this election is new

Former DA leader Tony Leon tells Peter Bruce on this edition of Podcasts from the Edge that the DA is not selling a value proposition in these current local government elections campaign. “Rather,” he says, “its transactional.” Vote DA and we’ll fix your problems. The two cover a lot of ground — why the DA doesn’t have a central economic policy, why President Cyril Ramaphosa has only spent two hours in KwaZulu-Natal since the violence in July, how in SA you think you’re doing well in the polls until the past few days before the vote when the ANC machine gets going and why getting a new chief justice is going to be a good thing.
22
SEP
2021

Money for nothing and your pills for free

If you’re running a large workforce and the guy cleaning the entrance to the lift you ride to the top floor has nothing to fall back on when he’s sick, shame on you. Not every company can put the entire workforce on Discovery or Bonitas but in the edition of Podcasts from the Edge Peter Bruce talks to Dr Reinder Nauta, an entrepreneurial medical man who reckons he can get blue collar employees private sector primary care for under R100 a month, per employee. Is that really possible? Nauta has signed up some 3 000 South African GPs reckons he can get your lift entrance cleaner into the same doctors rooms as the CEO with little more than a WhatsApp exchange. Back of an envelope, he reckons the potential market for his product could be 20m people. Put another way, 20m fewer people wasting time standing in queues at public hospitals…. listen in.
20
SEP
2021

What’s the rush?

Former Umkonto We Sizwe commander, SanParks boss and Home Affairs director general, Mavuso Msimang is widely recognised as one of the most level-head people to emerge from the struggle against apartheid. Now retired, he has been corralled by President Cyril Ramaphosa to do an almost impossible job and to speed up the process by which someone with a so-called “critical-skill” can come and live and work in South Africa. The problem is that there’s this list, and if your skill isn’t on it you can’t come and live here, no matter how good you may be at whatever it is that you do. The Critical Skills List is the produce of the Department of Higher Education, The Department of Employment and Labour, the department of trade, industry and competition, the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Qualifications Authority so you can imagine what a disaster it is. The latest draft of a new list wants you if you’re, among others, a farm manager or caravan park and camping ground manager. It wants you if you’re a policy and planning manager but not if you’re programme or project manager. Perhaps the list is merely a collection of the vacancies in the departments concerned. Mavuso Msimang has a few months to make the applications process faster. He tells Peter Bruce in this edition of Podcasts from the edge that its a tall ask.
07
SEP
2021

The day the TV went black

Arguably the most storied foreign correspondent still working in newspapers, the UK Sunday Times' chief foreign correspondent, Christina Lamb, talks to Peter Bruce in this exclusive interview from Kabul. Journalist and author, Lamb knows Afghanistan intimately, having covered the story for 33 years, from back when the Soviets occupied it. She describes how eerie the country she knows so well has suddenly become. There are no women on the streets and the Taliban are everywhere, long-haired and some even wearing make-up. For her friends in Kabul it is another story. She knows a rapper who changes houses now all the time. One friend describes the arrival of the Taliban as being "like the television suddenly switching off in the middle of a show". The pair also talk about what Lamb is sure is an increasing use my militaries around the world of the rape of woman as a weapon of war. It it in fact a war crime, Lamb reminds us, but the people who negotiate the ends of wars are almost always men.
31
AUG
2021

Why Duferco is just walking away

Ludovico Sanges is MD of Duferco, one of the biggest producers of galvanised and coated steel products in South Africa. The corrugated iron on your roof could easily have been milled at its plant in Saldanha. Durferco is also easily one of the biggest employers on the West Coast. But the company and its MD have been caught sup in the government increasingly erratic attempts to protect the single primary steelmaker, Arcelor Mittal, from steel imports and one of the biggest users of scrap, Scaw Metals, from a shortage of scrap. So exports of scrap are to all intents and purposes impossible now. Two years ago they earned the country R6bn. Duferco’s response to the inevitable price increases that accompany import duties has been to opt out of the local market altogether. It means it can import duty free from wherever it wants (there’s plenty of steel around) and then export it. Sanges says it has saved his business, which one way or another feeds 1000 souls. Listen to him talk to Peter Bruce in this edition of Podcasts from the Edge. At the end he reveals he asked ITAC the department of trade, industry and competition’s trade regulator, a year ago if it would consider giving Duferco a rebate on the 10% duty it would have to pay to import and sell its product in the SA market — where it is highly rated and where it would introduce more price competition. He still has not had an answer. If he was allowed the rebate it would lower domestic prices and he could hire back the 50 people he let go last year and put 100 truck drivers back on the road. (The sound quality is not the best; apologies)
23
AUG
2021

Does “intervention” work?

Peter Bruce talks to former UN Special Representative in Afghanistan, Nicholas ‘Fink’ Haysom in this edition of Podcasts From the Edge. Is it worth the effort trying to build democracy in countries that have never experienced it?Haysom reminds us that for the Taliban, the power to govern comes from above, not below, but he remains convinced the effort is worthwhile. Now UN Special Representative in South Sudan, Haysom learns that failed states aren’t always the poorest. The poorer you are, the less there is to go wrong. The most complex your economy and your structures the more vulnerable you might be to state failure.He doesn’t say so but a nod, perhaps, to South Africa?
10
AUG
2021

How to tame a bad spy

With South Africa’s intelligence services found grotesquely wanting before and during the looting and destruction of July President Cyril Ramaphosa has removed the minister of intelligence and not replaced her at all. Instead, the agencies, domestic and foreign, will report into the presidency itself. That’s led some people to argue this is Cyril Ramaphosa empowering himself. But that may not be the case. In this edition of Podcasts from the Edge former spy, diplomat and head of the South African Secret Service, Moe Shaik, tells Peter Bruce that Ramaphosa has returned to the original intent in 1994 when the intelligence services were run by a co-ordinator, Joe Nhlanhla. The idea was always that they reported to the presidency. Ramaphosa, reckons Shaik, is doing absolutely the right thing.

41 episodes

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