Over the past week, SA has found itself plunged into a chaotic civil war involving economics, statistics and politics. First, another CEO of a bankrupt state enterprise resigned. In his letter, Vuyani Jarana made it clear that the forced intersection between politics and governance has not only paralysed SAA but will continue to do so unless drastic reforms are initiated. A week earlier, the Eskom CEO also tendered his resignation, and though the issues that led to his exit were not as well articulated as Jarana's, the parallels are well known: high debt levels, poor revenue streams and cost structures that cannot be altered without the blessing of politicians and unions. Such a mixture of constraints - particularly for SAA, which has serious competition - requires the type of operational autonomy and strategic flexibility that is denied to the CEOs of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

To compound the national misery, Stats SA released GDP figures that showed a quarterly decline...

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