Bruce’s List: A guide to informed reads.
Donald Trump will be sworn in as president of the US next January 20 after his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton last week. The result has turned the international order on its head and raises fears of a new era of nationalism where the interests of nation states trump (if you’ll excuse the pun) the integration of the world, and the phenomenon of globalisation, since World War 2. The reason the European Union exists was a French idea to prevent war between itself and Germany again. The global supply chains that have enabled, for example, an American car to be from parts machined and sewn and cut all over the world is under threat. The old order is not going to survive this. The Americans have enormous power and we are going to feel it again. For SA, the Trump victory makes a shift deeper into the embrace of Russia and China more rather than less likely.
And by all accounts Trump is not going to hang about implementing some of his more outlandish campaign promises. Thank your lucky stars you live here and not there. He’ll start, he says, by deporting 3m Mexican immigrants from the US. And just to makes sure he does, he has appointed a right-wing white supremacist as his chief White House adviser.
Liberal commentators around the world are aghast, as they should be. This great essay from the UK’s Prospect magazine does a much better job than I ever could of describing the disaster we are about to plunge ourselves into. It’s long, but worth the time. And the film director, Michael Moore, who correctly predicted the Trump victory many months ago, reckons he won’t see out his term. That may be wishful thinking but we can at least live in hope.
In the Financial Times former US treasury secretary Larry Summers warns against believing the post-Trump triumph market exuberance might be short-lived. Summers likes the stimulus Trump says he plans to give the US economy but says “any responsible economist has to recognise that, past a point, it can lead to some combination of excessive foreign borrowing, inflation and even financial crisis”. The US can probably stave off the crisis longer than most but the threat hangs in the air.
Meanwhile, the Russians have helpfully confirmed that they had, indeed, been in contact with Trump’s campaign during the election. Of course they were. A Trump-Putin détente promises to be a serious mess. Let’s wait and see.
You have to hand it to the Guptas. They are hanging onto their place in South African society by a thread but still they fight. The weekend papers had them trying to buy a bank! It won’t get past the regulator but the mere effort is testament to the sense of impunity they have been allowed to accumulate. They’re also taking on the Oppenheimers over a facility De Beers has at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg. The Oppenheimers want international landing rights for the facility, housed in those Denel hangars you sometimes see when taking off or landing at ORT. But the Guptas want in and until they get in, it seems, some helpful people in government are withholding permission. This promises to be most entertaining. I can’t imagine two families less likely to get along.
And the ANC’s Gwede Mantashe has finally shown how weak he is. He couldn’t conduct an inquiry into the Guptas’ influence in the ANC and he seems utterly incapable of getting Jacob Zuma to behave. Now it seems he asked Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema to help stop the planned nuclear deal with Russia. How pathetic can you get? C’mon Gwede, grow a pair ...
Finally, we bid farewell to Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, who resigned on Friday in the wake of Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. The move was typical of Molefe — petulant and impulsive to the end. There was no need to go, not yet anyway. A very good manager, without question, but he had allowed himself to fall in with the wrong people. It is hard to say why. He had everything going for him. Multiple phone calls to Ajay Gupta later and now there’s a lot less going for him. Here is his resignation statement. And just in case you were wondering how the new public protector is getting along, she is devastated by Molefe’s departure. What, you have to wonder, has Eskom’s management got to do with her?