🔒 Boardroom Talk – By gum, status quo is broken, high time we start thinking differently

By Alec Hogg

For me, Tuesday marked a coming-of-age speech for David Ansara, the new CEO of the Free Market Foundation. His address at the Rand Club (which, yes, is still operational) was particularly noteworthy. It rationally outlined South Africa’s journey, corrected common misconceptions, and emphasised the need for a shift in thinking—immediately. The nation is at a watershed.

But these cathartic moments aren’t confined to South Africa; seismic shifts are on the horizon globally. A few years ago, The Economist lamented Boris Johnson’s rise to power as an indicator that the “Second XI” had taken the field at Westminster. Now, it appears that even a less capable “Third XI” is poised to replace them.


Even more troubling is the situation in the United States. Any rational mind must question how it is possible that from 332 million Americans, the best choices for leadership over the next five years are an octogenarian like Joe Biden or, more likely, Donald Trump—a compulsive liar and (see today’s article from the FT) now a corporate fraudster?

The world of Big Business isn’t faring any better. Just this week, McKinsey paid an additional $230 million to settle outstanding claims relating to its client, Purdue Pharma, and the tragic Oxycontin overdose epidemic that has resulted in over 500,000 deaths. This brings McKinsey’s total payouts to $870 million for its role in exacerbating the Sackler family’s drug crisis. For more, consider reading “Empire of Pain” by Patrick Keefe, or watching the miniseries “Painkiller” on Netflix. Sickening.

Also this week, Wall Street’s once venerable investment bank, JP Morgan, coughed up another $75 million, adding to a previous $290 million in settlements related to its problematic association with Jeffrey Epstein. Meanwhile in Australia, PwC fired eight partners, including its former CEO, after the National Treasury (a major client) found out the firm was using confidential information to save tax for corporate customers.

David Ansara, who echoes Rob Hersov in criticising South Africa’s Big Business, suggests that the “middle” is not holding in this country. But he argues this is not necessarily a harbinger of gloom and doom. In Ansara’s view, whatever replaces the current system of Big Government and Big Business is likely to be an improvement. Given the ongoing decline, that bar isn’t exactly high.



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