BACKSTORY: Werksmans Attorneys’ Bulelwa Mabasa
We question Bulelwa Mabasa, director at Werksmans Attorneys
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
If only you benefit from the deal, it will come back to bite you. There must be an upside for both (or all) parties.
What was your first job?
I was four years old in 1983. I played a lead role in a Xhosa TV production for children called Ikhaya Labantwana for about two years, which was aired daily on SABC. It meant mornings starting at four and only two or three days of school.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
My mother said it was about R5,000 from my acting gig. It helped my parents buy our first home, which I never lost an opportunity to remind them of.
What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
That one never arrives at the desired destination. It is a continuous expedition full of twists and turns. The trick is to enjoy the journey and accept wherever you find yourself along it.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink for the second time. This time much more attentively than before.
What is your biggest regret?
Not pursuing an offer and bursary to study my master’s in public law full-time at Georgetown University in Washington in 2006. It is half a regret, as it turned out I was (unknowingly at the time) expecting my first daughter. But the world of academia is calling me again …
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career?
I do often fantasise about being a travel writer, writing about fashion and interior design and interviewing artists from all over the world.
How would you close the gap between SA’s rich and its poor?
I’d address the spatial gap by insisting on spatial integration, for all to live close to economic nodes and economic opportunities. That would also focus energy on early child development and encourage critical skills development.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress her?
Your curiosity about the world around you, combined with your sheer will and courage, will hold you in great stead. Also, that big bum you keep worrying about? You’ll one day love it — all of it.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Political correctness, if it can be considered a virtue at all. It has compromised the delivery of justice and has replaced honesty.
How would you fix Eskom?
I would create three separate entities, consisting of generation, transmission and distribution, and in each have competition completely open to innovative and small players.
If you were president, what would you change tomorrow?
I would appoint 10 people to implement and monitor the top priorities for the country (at all levels), which would be to ensure competition in all state-owned enterprises and introduce economic reforms for small businesses to thrive. I would implement land reform policies and laws, streamline and ensure the delivery of quality education, and galvanise the private sector to create jobs. I would also capacitate the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute all forms of corruption.