🔒 Boardroom Talk: Steenhuisen’s “Dear John…” letter from Hersov is harsh, but typical of the genre.

By Alec Hogg

A lifetime ago, being South African, male, young and white meant two years of National Service or, for most of us, “the army”. But, like most naïve 17-year-olds in that predicament, my biggest challenge wasn’t the why, but how to keep going when a system (PT Instructors, Drill Instructors, the RSM and of course ‘Korporaal’) was doing its utmost to break you down.


The trump card of these psychopaths always seemed to arrive at the worst possible moment – the “Dear John….” letter from the girl who wouldn’t wait. Mine came like a punch to the gut just five weeks into basic training. I never saw the writer again, but still remember what she wrote. From that point onwards, my soldiering (such as it was) switched to pure survival.

Yesterday should have been one of the best in John Steenhuisen’s 47 years. He was cheered by a hall full of Democratic Alliance colleagues when re-elected leader of South Africa’s most prominent opposition political party. His acceptance speech was superb, as we’ve recently come to expect from the maturing Northwood old boy (an alma mater, too, of RW Johnson).

Yet Steenhuisen received his own “Dear John…” letter yesterday from businessman turned activist Rob Hersov who is appalled at the DA’s inability to elevate its thinking strategically. Hersov says he is close to leaving the DA because it “has a very provincial view….is intellectually shallow.” He urges Steenhuisen to embrace all other anti-ANC/EFF parties or lose in 2024.

Hersov says if Steenhuisen doesn’t change tack and offer a willing ear to Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance, his dream of leading the DA into the Union Buildings will be stillborn. “Do the math” he urges because the financial backers the DA needs for its campaign have done so. “Dear John’s….” always arrive at the worst possible time, don’t they? Click here.

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There’s much to digest from this interview with Jay Naidoo, a now 68-year-old who grew up as the last-born of eight children – and whose life was overturned when Apartheid’s Group Areas Act collided with the location of a modest family home. The social engineering system switched him from medical student to trade unionist; but it was intellect and passion that propelled the iconic activist into the top rank of anti-Apartheid warriors. In this moving, reflective discussion, Naidoo explains why he still refuses to accept the obvious, and continues to publicly pose thorny questions in a personal quest to leave the world a better place. He spoke to Alec Hogg of BizNews.
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