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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Daily Maverick by Richard Poplak.]

The last time I visited KPMG’s sprawling Johannesburg headquarters, I used up almost all of the soap. It was a particularly horrendous day during the 2016 student uprisings: stones rained down on skinny Congolese security guards in front of the University of Witwatersrand’s Great Hall, and then running battles through the eastern campus that spilled out onto the streets of Braamfontein. A Catholic priest was shot point blank in the face with a rubber bullet, and as blood dripped histrionically onto his pristine alb, my phone pinged out a reminder: I had an interview in Sandton, and it could not be rescheduled.

Time is money. Just ask an auditor.

And so off I trotted, through an eerily silent no-man’s-land strewn with bullet shells, chunks of pavement and other war flotsam, looking for somewhere to wash up. I crested the Jan Smuts hill, and despite a longstanding rule to stay away from any entity that helped fuck the global financial system, made my way towards KPMG’s offices. Inside the dimly lit atrium, I met the benevolent face of Kamikaze Capitalism: a receptionist nodded with studied acquiescence, showed me to the bathroom, and called me a cab.

No question, it’s fab being white.

Indeed, this was a classically South African moment. As I furiously soaped tear gas out of my eyes, I noticed that the bathroom smelled like an imaginary forest glade from the Triassic era, and I half expected to see little Mesozoic critters gambolling around my trainers. While one of the most violent days of the #FeesMustFall protests continued to rage up the street, KPMG’s staff glided through the hallways on invisible clouds of money. The building was frigid, as if the UK-based multinational was attempting to lower the mean sub-Saharan temperature by 30% – a “sustained corporate social responsibility initiative”, or some such.

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South Africa at a Glance
58 780 000 (mid 2019 estimate)
4.3% y/y in August 2019 (CPI) & +4.5 y/y in August 2019 (PPI)
3.1% q/q (2nd quarter of 2019)
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