SA’s longest-serving leader of the opposition, Sir De Villiers Graaff, had a handy solution to the numerous crises faced by his United Party (UP).

“When in doubt, Div would appoint a committee,” one of his confidantes once told me. That worked until it didn’t and the UP dissolved itself, appropriately perhaps, on a Johannesburg ice rink way back in 1977.

There was something of the Sir De Villiers Graaff approach in the most recent state of the nation speech of President Cyril Ramaphosa, under scrutiny this week in parliament.

While I was watching Ramaphosa last Thursday, and before my wife took the remote and insisted we watch real dystopian fiction in the form of the latest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, I counted no fewer than nine commissions, panels, committees, summits and councils announced, or reannounced, by the president...

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