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Ron Derby | We need to reform the state, maybe take a cue from the Iron Lady

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Margaret Thatcher (Gallo)
Margaret Thatcher (Gallo)

I've said this before and will say it again: we operate pretty much like a country stuck in one of those neurotic Woody Allen movies – stuck in what seems a long and never-ending season of anxiety about our immediate prospects. There's no easing into December and this hasn't been the case for a solid five years.

This time around our season of discontent is centred on the issue of public sector wages and government's attempt to reduce the rate of increases by reneging on a deal signed by former public service and administration minister Faith Muthambi, who served in the fifth administration under Jacob Zuma. Let's just say it wasn't the finest hour for South Africa's Cabinet, with a novice finance minister in Malusi Gigaba manning the fort at National Treasury.

The wage agreement struck with public sector unions wasn't feasible at that stage, as the economy was stuck in a low growth gear as Eskom and the sordid tales of the one-time first family, the Guptas, weighing on confidence levels. Today, with an economy battered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the South African Revenue Service expecting a revenue shortfall of above R320 billion, it's a deal the state is even more hard-pressed to meet.

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