In democracies, most governments are slow, neglectful and incompetent. But they aren’t always wilfully deceitful. Somehow the capacity of our government for political pretence and economic catastrophe seems bottomless. I thought President Cyril Ramaphosa signing the National Health Insurance Bill last week despite having no clue how to fund it took the cake. 

Then I read Alex Parker’s astonishing column ( in this space on Monday. He described how the ANC took a bill designed to deregulate the energy sector, went through the motions of “consulting” stakeholders and only then snuck into the bill an utterly treacherous series of provisions, which would give the minister of energy (now ANC chair Gwede Mantashe) sweeping powers to override almost all its reformist provisions and to introduce entirely new forms of energy into the country pretty mu...

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