Shakespeare’s tragedy MacBeth starts off with the question: “When shall we three meet again; in thunder, lightning or in rain?” That the play has become a favourite source of quotes for SA presidents is rather fitting. As custodians of a country whose economic and social prospects held such lofty promise just 20 years ago, the country’s gradual decline into the abyss has been reminiscent of King MacBeth’s own demise. SA’s decline is best illustrated by the fate of two entities, Eskom and SAA. It is common cause that these entities are unique in that they are expected to meet an economic and developmental mandate by venturing into avenues traditional businesses would not be expected to serve. Less understood by the politicians, in particular, is that the developmental mandate can only be met if the primary mandate — profitability — is sustained. If there is tension between the pursuit of profitability and the quest for social returns; the profitability question must prevail. The conc...

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