The crisis of SA’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is a reminder that state ownership should be limited to situations where alternatives are truly absent. It is a test that most of them fail to pass.

Well-regulated competition is an effective and ethical way of serving the public interest. The government and the non-profit sector intervene when competition is not desirable, feasible or fails welfare and justice. In a private business, management, appointed by the shareholders, acts on their behalf to deliver returns. Competition has failure built into it. Non-performing businesses go under, assets are stripped and reallocated, and clients shift to others...

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