The timing of reports on the letter foreign investor countries are said to have sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa is almost perfect — for good and bad reasons. It is a seminal lesson in the politics of foreign economic relations. Crucially, it is a lesson in the abject failure of SA’s foreign economic policies and (pay attention at the back) how the near-complete breakdown of trust and failures of public service delivery at home are reflected also in the country’s relations with the world. It is the same public service, after all. It would be foolish to imagine that the maladministration, rent-seeking, lack of professionalism, unethical conduct, insolence and crass displays of self-importance among public servants that have dragged the public service down stopped at the border. It would be foolish to believe the country’s foreign affairs machinery — officials and policies — are not part of the broken or dysfunctional in departments of state overall. There are reports, almost daily, ...

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