Friday, 19 May 2017

House Chair rules my term "The Invisible Minister Zulu" un-Parliamentary - watch on YouTube video

During yesterday's debate the house Chair, Yvonne Nkwenkwezi Phosa (wife of wannabe-President Mathews Phosa) ruled my term "the Invisible Minister Zulu" un-Parliamentary.

Our whips, John Steenhuisen and Ian Ollis, objected to this outrageous ruling and for a few minutes the House descended into a state of mild chaos as the Chair tried to regain control of proceedings.

While this was going on I conceived a plan to wiggle out of the mess while poking fun at Minister Zulu. Judging by her glum expression and response in wrapping up the debate, she was not amused.

In fact, she declared she was very visible because she was black! It is unfortunate that Minister Zulu should resort to racial stereotyping to try to make a point. She has being doing this more and more lately - she used it when defending her hiring of Dr Thami Mazwai as her special advisor whom I had accused of a conflict of interest in also being a supplier of services to the Department. She asked why the DA only accused blacks of being corrupt!

The ANC has got to get over its obsession with race. Truth is, it's hit rock bottom and can't think of any other way of attacking us.

You can watch it on the video here - 38:45 is where I am interrupted.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Small Business Development budget speech in Parliament

Delivered in the Old Assembly Chamber,  Parliament, 14h00, 18th May 2017

The Invisible Minister Zulu

House Chair

Before I continue let me congratulate and welcome our new Deputy Minister, Honourable November, to her position. We wish you well in your important endeavours. And a hearty welcome to all the guests upstairs in the gallery.

Chair, it is now abundantly clear, three years after the Department of Small Business Development was formed, that it is invisible to 97% of businesses in South Africa.

Let me repeat that. The Department of Small Business Development is invisible to 97% of businesses in South Africa.

How can I so confidently make that assertion?

Well, consider these facts.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Opinion piece in the 2016 GEM report on South Africa

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor has just published its 2016 report on South Africa. I was one of four guest contributors of an opinion piece carried in the report, which I reproduce below.

There is a growing voice of disagreement on the methodology, findings and policy implications of the GEM report versus the Global Entrepreneurship Index. The former focuses on the Total Entrepreneurial Activity Rate which equates a high number with positive economic activity while the latter prefers to look at the relationship between fast-growing businesses and a country's prosperity.

This is an important discussion which raises very big issues around priorities for boosting economic growth. I will be examining this in the months to come.

South Africa is under-achieving but can do better if we follow lessons from pockets of success.

Among South Africa’s great paradoxes is that we have by far the most advanced economy on the continent of Africa yet one of the lowest rates of entrepreneurial activity. We have been bumping along the bottom of country rankings ever since GEM started in 2001. Hence the question posed in this report: can the small business sector in South Africa be saved?

In short, yes, with the right policies and the right interventions by government and the private sector, then South Africa’s small business sector can be the catalyst for growth in our country.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Letter to Business Day on the pitfalls of micro loans

Today's Business Day carries my letter about the pitfalls of micro loans for small businesses. You can read the letter here or the full version I sent them below.


Mark Barnes must realise he is taking Postbank into treacherous waters (Postbank's fresh loan plan aims to boost access, BDay 28 April). While access to credit for informal sector businesses, in the form of micro loans, is touted as promoting financial inclusion, it has more often than not led to over-indebtedness and financial distress among borrowers and boom-bust times for credit providers. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Britain back in election mode

Diana and I often pick momentous days in British history to travel in or out of the country.

On 7th July 2005 I got off the plane and soon heard reports of the terrible bombings of the London underground and buses that happened that very morning. On 8th April 2013 we turned on the radio as we drove from my parents' home in North Wales to Heathrow and sat riveted for the next five hours as reports of Mrs Thatcher's death came through, along with in-depth interviews with significant politicians of her era including Michael Heseltine (who triggered her resignation as Prime Minister in 1990) and David Owen (Foreign Secretary in the Labour government she defeated in 1979 who went on to co-found the SDP which re-shaped the centre left of British politics).

Today, once again driving from North Wales to Heathrow, we turned on the 10:30 news to hear that Theresa May has called a general election for 8th June, just 7 weeks away. The special edition of The World at One on BBC Radio 4 carried interviews with leading political commentators and politicians offering their views on this shock announcement.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Statement on the crisis in South Africa by Revd Dr Jeremy Jacobs, Rector, St George's Anglican Church, Parktown, Johannnesburg

I don't normally post other people's writing on this blog but sometimes exceptions are necessary. This is one such exception. 

As Jeremy says below, our church in Parktown has hosted the ANC veterans 101 Group meetings over recent months. But they have been dismissively ignored by the ANC. President Zuma and his handlers have lost all respect for men and women who were once the heart of the ANC, as they have for all other democratic forces in South Africa.

Today's marches are a sign of the DA and civil society's determination to change that, and force the ANC to take action to remove Zuma. This is the beginning of a protest movement that is looking more and more like its predecessors in the 1980s aimed at removing the National Party from government. The climax to this movement will be the 2019 elections when the DA aims to be part of a new government, ushering in a renewed sense of hope for our citizens. We have a bumpy two years ahead.

Mcebisi Jonas resigns a day after addressing the AHI SME Indaba

This morning we heard the news that former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has resigned as an MP. Yesterday I attended the AHI SME Indaba in Centurion where Mr Jonas gave possibly his last public address as an MP. It was striking in its frankness about the dangers facing SA today.

I sat Tweeting like mad as a substitute for making notes, but the gist of what he said confirms what we all suspected about the state of capture South Africa finds itself in.

In South Africa, "politics and economics are inextricably linked" he said. Economist Dawie Roodt's comments after his speech highlighted Jonas' emphasis on politics rather than a focus on economic policies, the latter being what you would expect from a former deputy minister of finance.