Four months into the Cyril Ramaphosa administration and things are starting to get real. While progress on the micro reforms needed for economic growth is slow, there is one area where things are accelerating at a giddying pace and that is in the state-owned companies. The CEs who have been put in place "to save" these companies are rolling out their battle plans and they are determined to succeed. South African Airways CEO Vuyani Jarana has been so bold as to accept a wager of R100,000 to charity with director of the Free Market Foundation Leon Louw that he will be able to turn the airline into a profitable company in three years. To save themselves both SAA and Eskom must cut jobs. The culture of patronage and corruption and straight-forward inefficiency that has prevailed over years has resulted in payrolls that are swollen both with people and with remuneration. Eskom with its 48,000 employees is overstaffed by a third compared with other similar utilities.

SAA is also loa...

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