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About Tony Leon

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So far Tony Leon has created 44 blog entries.

Soon there may be no part of SA that’s more Swiss than Guatemalan

SA is obviously a deeply divided country. It is also, bewilderingly, a country which splits itself between what can be termed its large Guatemala section and the small enclave demarcated as Switzerland. In Guatemala, rated one of the more lawless and violent countries in Latin America, it’s the rule of the gangs and the corrupt [...]

ANC should learn about electricity from Lenin

The South African economy will be on life support this year with an anaemic 0.3% projected growth, according to this week’s SA Reserve Bank forecast. More jobs and livelihoods will bleed, the tax base will erode and many businesses will die. Hilary Joffe writing in Business Day on Friday noted ‘’even in the worst of [...]

As we teeter on the brink of the abyss, the silence of big business is deafening

The cavalcade of chaos and crises confronting South Africa right now, with electricity outages a daily grim reminder of our failing state, is probably an excellent moment to roll out the tattered red carpet in Pretoria for the visiting representative of an even more failed enterprise than our own: Russia. The presence in our capital [...]

Klein Krokodil Mantashe morphs into a Gorgon in the PW Botha mould

On September 6 1966, in the assembly chamber of parliament in Cape Town, a deranged messenger, Dimitri Tsafendas, stabbed and killed apartheid prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd. Minutes later then defence minister, and later prime minister and then president, PW Botha, stormed across from the other side of the house to confront the sole member of [...]

No festival of lights here. And forget about a miracle

On Wednesday I bumped into a veteran journalist just back from the ANC's 55th national conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg. He described his five days at the event as “hellish” — everything endlessly delayed, impenetrable ANC jargon in place of plain speech, zero attention to crucial policymaking and pervasive chaos and unruliness. Happily, spared such a [...]

Shades of Waterkloof: let’s talk about that Russian ship on Cape shores

Back in 1973, the New York Times master columnist and resident conservative flag bearer in a hyper-liberal establishment newspaper popularised the acronym “MEGO”. It derives from the first letters of the editor’s phrase, “My Eyes Glaze Over”. It was, he advised, an editorial put-down of a worthy but crushingly dull article. But he noted it [...]

With Ramaphosa’s zugzwang, it’s goodbye to the new dawn

Goodbye To All That was the title of the 1929 autobiography of war-traumatised Robert Graves, the acclaimed writer and poet, which he described as his “bitter leave-taking of England”. It is a useful obituary note for the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa. Technically, like Mark Twain’s reported death, this might seem greatly exaggerated. But only in the [...]

We’re back where ‘restraint and generosity’ are outlandish for a leader

Does effective, shapeshifting leadership require its exemplars to push against the bounds of current consensus and navigate “the road not taken”? I interrogated this theme in a lecture this week in Cape Town and came to the perhaps obvious but rather glum conclusion that yes, it does, and our country and the world has a [...]

Cyril and Joe share a secret electoral sauce

The political fortunes of Joe Biden, who has just turned 80 and is the oldest president in the history of the US, are partly explained by comparative advantage. One of his favourite quips is: “Don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative.” In his 2020 presidential victory and in the US midterms [...]

Bill Browder and Tony Leon argue that money, not morality, dictates South Africa’s support for Vladimir Putin

King Charles III has conferred a signal honour on South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa. He has invited him on a state visit to Britain this month, the first by a foreign leader since the king came to the throne. That is in spite of South Africa’s refusal to condemn Russia’s merciless war in Ukraine. In [...]

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