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The Jewish Report Editorial

A man named Michael Sachs

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When a man by the name of Michael Sachs resigned from the Treasury this week, it was hard not to do a double take. That was partly because his name sounds so Jewish. The other part was because his resignation caused the rand to dive and was said to potentially have ramifications much like the axing of former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Nov 16, 2017

Sachs - who heads up the national budget office - is not an unknown player, having been interviewed in the media many times around budgetary issues.

Having been brought up by retired Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs, his Struggle credentials are unquestionable.

He is not a political player as such, but rather a dedicated hard-working civil servant, who has been working in Treasury since 2007. He was a core member of the Pravin Gordhan-Mcebisi Jonas team. He has been dedicated to guiding this country through the economic morass, despite the opposition from those at the country’s helm.

Sachs is an honourable man and takes the future of his country very seriously. He was very careful as to how the country’s money was spent. What a relief it is to know that there was such a man in that position.

However, the pressure from those corrupt individuals at the top, eventually got too much for him. President Jacob Zuma made his intentions known of revising the national budget and cutting back spending on government programmes to introduce free tertiary education.

Sachs made it clear during the #FeesMustFall campaign last year, that while free tertiary education was a wonderful idea and something to work towards, it was not even vaguely feasible at this point in South Africa. And then throw in the billions needed for the nuclear-build programme that the president also seems hell-bent on making happen, no matter what.

Said Sachs two weeks ago: “We cannot afford nuclear at this stage. Not only can the budget not afford it, but the country cannot afford it.”

At this point, the whole country is holding its breath for the ANC elective conference at the end of the year, but clearly Sachs could wait no longer. He is not marching out with immediate effect - he is holding the fort so that he can ensure the smooth transition to his replacement. The saddest thing of all is that we need people like Sachs in government. We need them at the helm.

Knowing that there are still such people in government is heart-warming, because it means that there are likely to be others like him still there. This may well help in trying to right the wrongs done by the incumbent leaders once the new - hopefully improved - guard takes over. Yes, for my sins, I am an unashamed idealist.

As we were putting our newspaper to bed this week, there was a “coup” happening across our border in Zimbabwe. For the most part, it looked like it was to be an almost peaceful takeover from 93-year-old leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who held power for 37 years. While this appears to be the unseating of a despot, which should to be great news, I am hesitant to be too excited as I am not sure if any good comes from military coups. The military are not often seen as democrats.

At the same time as this, university students were sitting their exams. In an unprecedented move, UCT barricaded its students in to write their finals. The students had to walk through what looks like a military no-go zone to get to their makeshift tented exam “halls”.

As a Jewish parent, it makes me feel our children are being protected. However, as a South African, it makes me really concerned that this is what we have to do to enable our students to get degrees.

These barricades and heightened security are to block out what we are led to believe are disgruntled  students. While some of them are legitimately starving and incapable of paying to learn, others are causing mayhem.

It is a very complicated situation, which is shaking our very tertiary education to its core. There is something wrong with a university being turned into a “no-go” zone.

What will happen when the truth sinks in - as Sachs says - that fees can’t fall as there is no money to support them?

We are living in interesting times! While the Chinese see this saying as a curse, Judaism sees it as a blessing. We view challenges or tests as opportunities that G-d gives us to grow and meet our true potential! Here’s to finding this country’s true potential soon.

Shabbat shalom!

 

 

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