Few in politics, business or life have the unshakeable self-belief to pursue a project everyone else believes will end in failure. Sometimes these people make the best leaders: they can achieve great breakthroughs. But sometimes they are the worst: unchecked by reality, their plans can go badly awry.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan looks as if he could be one such person. Opposed to the business rescue of SAA from the start — it was forced upon him by the banks and the company’s directors — he has sought to control the outcome, even though the rescue process demands that the shareholder step back and take the medicine, no matter how bitter...

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