Podcasts from the Edge

MULTIMEDIALIVE  |  Podcast , ±40 min episodes every 1 week, 1 day  | 
Peter Bruce, veteran South African newspaper editor and commentator, interviews the country's social and political leaders and experts in a weekly effort to explain what is actually going on in this complicated country. Bruce's interviews are about making events easy to understand for people with little time to listen.

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Lockdown alcohol bans? The game has suddenly changed.

Government has banned sales of alcohol for 19 weeks overall since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in South Africa last year. New research, paid for by Distell but conducted independently of the company, says that not only has that cost the economy R2bn a week in growth and much more in excise taxes, but that it hasn’t has much effect at all on hospitals, which according to the government the bans were implemented to protect. The research is explosive. The 60 per cent drop in trauma at South African hospitals matches similar trauma unit statistics from all over the world during other lockdowns. They neither the UK (down 57%), Italy (-57%) to the US (-54%) banned the sale of alcohol. So why us? Listen to the latest edition of Podcasts from the Edge with Peter Bruce as he talks to Ian McGorian, who did the research, and to SA Liquor Brand Owners Association chair Sibani Mngado to try and unpack the slippery thinking that drives the huge and influential anti-alcohol lobby in South Africa and inside its government, which should perhaps know better.

Without Graeme Smith our cricketing future is bleak

Can South Africa’s cricket team, just ten years ago number one in the world, come back from what is clearly a major slump? Are Temba Bavuma and Dean Elgar, new captain’s of the men’s short and test forms of the game good enough to take us back to the top? Can anything be done about the administrations of the game and has the involvements of sports minister Nathi Mthetwa done more good than harm? In this edition of Podcasts from the Edge Peter Bruce talks to leading cricket commentator and writer Neil Manthorp about his impressions of the game and where we stand. If anything emerges from this conversation it is how central CSA director of cricket and former Proteas captain Graham Smith is to the future. He is the only administrator anyone else in the world knows, explains Manthorpe. His contacts and phonebook are priceless and he is uniquely placed to bring us into competition with the world’s top teams again.

Man bites dog: The political news in SA

Nothing is harder to divine in South Africa right now than what true true “balance of forces” are inside the ruling African National Congress. Put another way, who is in charge, the cowboys or the crooks? You can make a plausible case for secretary General Ace Magashule being poised to remove, or begin to move, President Cyril Ramaphosa from power or that Ramaphosa is wholly untroubled by Magashule and will easily see a second term in office. I this edition of Podcasts from the Edge, Peter Bruce talks to veteran political editor and now Financial Mail Deputy Editor Natasha Marrian and asks which way she thinks the currents inside the ANC wetlands are slowly moving.

Like all smart political watchers, Marrian hedges her bets but, for now, reckons Ramaphosa has got the better of the Radical Economic Transformation (or RET) faction. “Have a look at what ANC voting block has been to visit Jacob Zuma at Nkandla recently,” she suggests. The Women’s League, and they would, wouldn’t they? This entertaining and wide-ranging discussion looks at the roadblocks Ramaphosa has to drive through this year…

Getting, farming and land right, once and for all

In the latest edition of his Podcasts From The Edge, Peter Bruce speaks to widely-celebrated agricultural economist and government advisor Wandile Sihlobo about South African success in farming, and how that might be built on. We’ve become the second largest citrus exporter in the world. Can we do more of that? When it comes to sorting out deep rural SA, says Sihlobo, both in farming and in local government, “it might not be a bad idea” to no look back to methods the Old Regime used to use that worked.

Scrapping for Steel

Doron Barnes has been fighting for steel for as long as he can remember. When he and his dad were running Barnes Fencing two decades ago he was fighting Arcelor Mittal for steel rod to make wire from. Now he’s the owner and boss of Scaw Metals, one of South Africa’s biggest steel suppliers, and he’s still fighting his corner. This time he’s taken on the scrap metals industry and, as he did with Mittal back then, he’s won again as the government puts a raft of regulations in place to keep quality scrap in the country and to clamp down on exports. Some might argue state regulation distorts the market but Barnes isn’t phased. He melts his own steel in arc furnaces and as far as the scrap industry is concerned, he’s just doing what he has to do.

Paper Cuts from the Pink ‘Un

Podcasts from the Edge this week sees Peter Bruce talk to former Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber about his new book “The Powerful and the Damned — Private Diaries in Turbulent Times” now widely available in South Africa. The two talk about life in a newsprint newsroom, going full speed for digital subscriptions, the prospect of Donald Trump returning in four year’s time and what it feels like to talk to Vladimir Putin (its creepy). Barber was FT editor for 14 years and, always, only one thing matters. “I want to win,” he says of his everyday driving passion. “I’m more competitive than the Springboks.”

Speaking truth on power

The government may be looking at procuring nuclear power and the electricity regulator may just have stopped Eskom from buying in power from eight private sector generators. But that’s just life in South African power generation. UCT’s Prof Anton Eberhard tells Peter Bruce in this fascinating episode of Podcasts From the Edge that he remains quietly confident that the government, distracted and stretched though it might be, will indeed meet the independent power targets it has set itself in it Integrated Resource Plan. With Australia now installing 1 000MW-plus batteries, Eberhard also flags rapidly developing battery technology as a potential game changer in the South African power sector. Until then, gas-filled ships feeding onshore turbines could also help and when they’re no longer needed why, they could just float off somewhere else.

The IMF can’t help SA. We don’t need dollars!

In this episode of Podcasts from the Edge, Former National Treasury Budget Officer director Prof Michael Sachs tells Peter Bruce he doesn’t expect Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to announce tax increases in the budget later this month. Not in the middle of a crisis and not with a resumption in private sector investment the last hope for growth still standing. And because our debt is rand denominated ours is not going to be a classic developing country fiscal crisis. We are not Argentina and we don’t need dollars and the IMF can’t really help. “It is going to be messy,” says Sachs, if we end up having to have crisis negotiations amongst ourselves.

Are we crazy enough to think we can change South Africa?

Listen to author, former newspaper editor and thinker Songezo Zibi talk to Peter Bruce about how to find the political space in South Africa to get us thinking constructively about the future. “Everybody I know is having the same conversation about change,” Zibi says. But how does it start? When? And who starts it and what does it end up looking like? A fascinating exchange with with one of South Africa’s most entertaining public intellectuals.

Heavy Metal Blues

Why would trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel slip through a massive 15% import duty on aluminium sheet products in the very last government gazette of 2020? Is it because the state is the biggest shareholder in Hulamin, our only producer of aluminium sheet products and can’t compete? Why is industrial policy happening behind closed doors? It seems inevitable that if you take price pressure off local producers by protecting them from imports, then prices in South Africa will rise. Peter Bruce asks international metals trader and Hulamin shareholder Volke Shütter and the answers are brilliant….

Tough love and real science for Ramaphosa

Top South African vaccinologist Shabir Mahdi strongly advises against any further strengthening of lockdown regulations in this edition of Podcasts from the Edge with Peter Bruce and ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation. Tougher restrictions won’t work, he says, and we have to keep people outdoors and in the wind, We will only know in a few weeks whether or not current vaccines are going to be effective against the new South African variant of the coronavirus, Madhi warns, but there’s clear evidence that antibodies produced in people infected in the first wave last year are up to 10 times less potent against the new variant than they were against the original.

Why Gidon Novick can’t stop flying

Veteran columnist and newspaper editor Peter Bruce talks to one of South Africa’s most innovative entrepreneurs in this final edition of his Podcasts From The Edge for the year. Gidon Novick, co-founder of Kulula, began carrying passengers in his new domestic airline, Lift, just last week. Believe it or not but it was the coronavirus lockdown at the start of the year that got him thinking about a new airline. Most people would have thought that crazy but he is confident about his lean and flexible business model and an optimist about South Africa and tourism. Mainly though, he just loves to fly…..

17 episodes

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