What is it with "value chains" that so fascinates our policymakers? They've convinced themselves that if you carefully study how a product is made and marketed and consumed, you can repeat one success over and over. They take human error or genius or free will out of their equations because the "value chain" is Truth.

Except it isn't. We should mine our astronomic mineral wealth for all it's worth. Dig it up and ship it out. That's our part in the global "value chain". Instead we say, No, wait, why ship this out when it'll just come back here as a Japanese screwdriver? Why don't we make the screwdriver instead?

The "beneficiation" case sounds reasonable, but it's stupid. The Japanese screwdriver guy already has customers all over the world. When we go into his business ourselves we create a competitor where once we had a customer

The jobs summit. It was, no doubt, a sincere effort to find a solution to our monumental levels of unemployment. It is agony watching President Cyril Ramaphosa trying to escape the economic monster busy swallowing us without further annoying the beast. A stimulus that doesn't stimulate. A monetary policy committee that knows it should be raising interest rates but can't. Unions that must constantly be soothed. The state assets that can't be sold. We South Africans talk too much and there's a curious security in that. Perhaps the less we do, the fewer mistakes we make? Or have we talked so much we've lost sight of what we are? Yes, there's colonialism and apartheid and cruelty and division and disdain and greed and theft, and a lot of that is still around. But at our core, economically, we are a nation, black or white, of miners and farmers. In our divisions we forget that. We're really good at mining and farming. If we could mine (and process the minerals a bit) and farm (and proces...

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