Lamenting the lamination

  • The Old Testament has a book written by Jeremiah called Lamentations. He – er – “laments” Jerusalem’s downfall from its once glorious status as the city of God.  The original name of the book in Hebrew, “ekah”, can be translated “Alas!” or “How,” In short, how did we get here?

    Recently I have been asking the same question prompted in the main by the revelation (enough with the biblical puns now) that South Africa can’t even print drivers licences because its ONLY lamination (the word lamination perhaps prompted my lamentation) machine has had to be sent to Germany for repairs.

    ALAS indeed.

    Consider that SA was once a nuclear power. Consider that SA also had the moral fibre to divest itself of its nuclear weapons. Consider that we hosted, very successfully I might add, three major sporting codes world cups in the space of 15 years.

    Consider that 2 Nobel laureates from South Africa were born a few metres from each other. The first heart transplant, the CAT scan machine, the “kreepy krauly”  - all South African.

    Budget surpluses, excess cheap energy….not that long ago.

    15% unemployment (and declining) – less than a generation ago. Millions of houses for the poor were being built by the new democratic Government.

    To be sure, this is not to deny that South Africa also has a diabolical political past to overcome.

    But for a few years we were winning, and as the Donald would say, we were winning “bigly” (or was that George Bush, I forget).

    The point being this, for a few years South Africa chose a winning formula and we punched well above our weight on a global scale.

    What has happened? How can it be that less than a generation later we cannot even print drivers licences….because a machine that binds 2 pieces of plastic together is broken, and….has to be sent to a foreign country to be repaired.

    Not to mention all the other collapsing infrastructure in rail, water, energy …etc, etc

    This is not an article of “when we”….but surely, surely we can be better?

    Anyway – before I get abused for awakening DR Gloom, hopefully our collective lamenting drives us to some form of action.

    As for the Rand ….it’s remains the recent darling of the currency world. Investors are ignoring rising rates all over the world (for now). The gap between SA bonds and the rest of the developed world remains wide enough to attract interest. That,  coupled with a decent export supply of USD means that the Rand has been one of 2022’s top performers.

    Personally, I remain sceptical of the Rands continued outperformance. But that’s just me.

    I owe you all an apology – from now on every time you hear the word “laminate”, you will be lamenting. The brain is funny that way.