Occasionally, a new diplomat arrives in SA and asks to see me. Diplomats have agendas and journalists need to be alive to this, but they also know a lot and talk to people in senior positions. Usually time is tight, so to give them something useful to chew over on the political milieu, I suggest something simple; take Occam’s Razor, the philosophical approach to problems that takes the fewest elements and seeks the simplest answer, and pervert it entirely.

Occam’s Razor should be natural to journalists. Brevity is best. Endless essays, long words and convoluted sentences are a performance, not a trade. In SA politics, though, understanding can often be found by seeking out the most cynical explanation you can. It’s the Mzansi Razor...

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