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Straight Talking Strydom

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Let’s hope Trump is a con

Print PDFToday was a huge day for the USA and the world. Donald Trump was elected president, against expectations and what polls told us. We were entertained, we were glued to our screens and our social media, we were amused at the absurdity of the whole situation, but we did not expect this to become

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Manyi and Gasa almost made history

Print PDFI got really excited yesterday. I was taking my tea break in the morning and decided to have a look at Twitter. Two of the people that I follow were at loggerheads. The one is Nomboniso Gasa, a researcher, writer and political analyst and the other is ex-Cabinet spokesman, Mzwanele (previously known as Jimmy)

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Investment boycott is perverse

Print PDFFollowing the halting of lending to six state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by Futuregrowth, there has been increasing calls for an investment boycott or even a tax strike in SA. I believe such steps would be perverse, considering the fact that even during the worst days of Apartheid, no such steps were implemented by SA firms

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It is time for parties to shift left

Print PDFIt is easy to see the results from the last week’s local government elections in SA as purely a rebuke of the ruling ANC. In addition, we should see it as a cry for help from the poor and disenfranchised, a cry for better services, more opportunities and jobs. It is a cry for

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Brexit could be reversed

Print PDFOn 23 June, UK voters decided to leave the European Union (EU) in the much touted Brexit referendum. The fall-out was immediate and severe, both politically and economically. Buyers’ remorse prevails with UK voters having the worst electoral hangover in recent history. Unlike most elections, there are very few people who are celebrating and

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Why are you willing to work for free?

Print PDFIf you have recently been recruited by a multi level marketing (MLM) company to sell beauty products, funeral policies or something else, you are likely in a worse financial position than you were before. You may have had to pay some joining fee or bought some product. In addition, you are not making any

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Don’t lose your money in one of these schemes

Print PDFIf you are invested in a scheme that offers you a 30% return per month (or are thinking about it), you are in dangerous waters. You run the risk of losing all of your money. If you are one of the lucky ones, you may be getting your returns from the poor souls that

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Los Afrikaans uit!

Print PDFAfrikaans is onder druk in ons skole en universiteite met baie groepe wat aandring dat dit afgeskaf word as primêre onderrigmedium of dat Engels as ‘n parallel medium ingebring word. Hierdie stuk is nie gerig op daardie mense nie. Verrassing! Dit is gerig op die mense en groepe wat probeer om Afrikaans te gebruik

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Leave Afrikaans alone!

Print PDFAfrikaans is under pressure in our schools and universities with many parties calling for its scrapping as a primary medium of instruction or wanting to incorporate English as a parallel medium. This piece is not aimed at these people. Surprise! It is aimed at the people and groupings who are trying to use Afrikaans as

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Health care costs are too high – let’s cut them

Print PDFHealth care costs in SA are high and growing ahead of inflation, whilst at the same time most South Africans still receive a substandard product. Why is this so and how can we address it? It is not that we spend too little; it is because we are not getting bang for our buck.

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When will we cross the Rubicon?

Print PDFOn the evening of 15 August 1985, PW Botha took the stage in Durban to open the National Party Natal Congress. Countrywide this was a much anticipated speech and for weeks there had been speculation that it could change the direction of SA. There was cautious optimism that the ANC could be unbanned, that Nelson

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We need a New Deal in SA

Print PDFSouth Africa is facing a national crisis of unprecedented proportions if we do not address unemployment, poverty and inequality with the utmost haste. Failure to do so could result in a populist uprising in this country, which could set us back by decades. Instead of political infighting, we need to stand together and offer

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Should #fallists get time of day?

Print PDFAfter a short holiday break, #fallists are back in full swing on South African campuses. What we mostly hear about in the media and social platforms are the repercussions of their campaigns, including the tearing down of statues; the burning of art; clashing with private security, police and rival groups; the burning of vehicles

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Why are unions against pension tax changes?

Print PDFOver the past months, there has been a great deal of discussion on new pension tax laws and their impact on provident funds. So vehement were the objections from unions (especially Cosatu) that the implementation date has been changed from 1 March 2016 to 1 March 2018. Why are unions so against this act? Could

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Give us cheaper access to credit

Print PDFTimes are tough in SA and people need access to credit. The problem is that for the most vulnerable, interest rates and fees on microloans are very high, which leads to expensive instalments and high bad debt levels. Using a house as security can lead to much lower instalments, can save the borrower a

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Renewed focus on corruption

Print PDFMaybe it’s electioneering, maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution or maybe I am being optimistic, but I am noticing a renewed focus on corruption in SA over the year to date. Whatever the reason, may it continue and build even more momentum. Unless actively countered, corruption will rear its ugly head, whether in politics,

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We need a Minister of Employment

Print PDFUnemployment is the most important issue facing SA at the moment. If we do not grow employment numbers aggressively and quickly, we face an increase in poverty and inequality that could result in a populist uprising. Past attempts at dealing with this issue have failed and we now need a new approach. We need

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EFF the main winner from the Racism debate

Print PDFRacism is unacceptable and needs to be addressed in our country to promote healing. For me, this goes without saying. Instead of focusing on the racism debate itself, this piece considers the potential winners and losers to emerge from the renewed focus on racism in SA. The main losers will be people who are

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Terrorists find strange bedfellows

Print PDFISIS has the ultimate goal of creating a global Islamic caliphate, while its medium-term goal is to get Western forces out of Holy lands. Its short-term goal is to create panic, awareness and converts and it is here that it has found some strange bedfellows in the West. The reaction to recent terrorist attacks

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You can improve SA education – this is how!

Print PDFSA education is struggling with poor outcomes, low standards and inadequate resources. Instead of lamenting about this or being fatalistic, you can improve SA education. No matter if you are wealthy or poor, educated or not. As long as you are willing to contribute, you can make a difference. Partners for Possibility (PfP) is

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Cultivating Hate

Fighting terror from within

Print PDFThe attacks in Paris last Friday are the latest in a spate affecting many parts of the world. How we respond will determine whether this threat continues to grow, how the lives of innocents are impacted and what world we will live in going forward. There may be a temptation to lash out at

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New weapons in the fight against AIDS

Print PDFWe are winning the fight against AIDS in SA and the world. Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in SA is free and being rolled out to more people every day, leading to dramatic increases in life expectancy. New treatments are being tested and viable vaccines may be around the corner. A key challenge remains the stigma

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Low standards must fall

Print PDFThe past days saw a formidable exercise in democracy and social action in SA with the success of the #FeesMustFall campaign. From a group of Wits students protesting against fee hikes, ordinary students of all backgrounds united in a grassroots movement that led to the closure of campuses, huge marches in numerous cities and

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ANC NGC – the good, the bad and the ugly

Print PDFThe ANC National General Council (NGC) of the past weekend offered a mixed bag to South Africans looking for an improved outlook for the country. There was the good, including correctly identifying problems and taking steps to correct them. There was the bad, a lack of taking responsibility for failures and taking steps that

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Don’t miss another opportunity Stellenbosch

Print PDFStellenbosch University missed an opportunity in the 1990s to transform aggressively and become the Afrikaans university for people of all cultures in SA. It now finds itself in a situation where the predominance of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction is being directly linked to racist behaviour inside and outside of class (by groupings

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Homo Naledi find exciting on many levels

Print PDFThursday, 10 September 2015 started as any other for me, SA and the World, but it was not long before we were introduced to a new lady, Homo Naledi, and she changed everything. She lit up the twitterverse, she dominated Google searches, she got people all over the world talking and she and the

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You’re biased, but maybe not on purpose

Print PDFUnless you are an overt bigot (racist, sexist, etc.), you would probably deny that you are biased. You probably think you are fair when it comes to decisions like electing your school governing body, choosing who to appoint in a job, picking someone for a promotion, choosing who to do business with, etc. The

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$500m spent for every US terror victim!

Print PDFIn one of the strangest and saddest news reports after two journalists were gunned down in Virginia last week, the one victim’s father says that despite his determination for stricter gun control, he will likely have to purchase a gun to protect himself from opponents of such stricter control. Excluding 911, mass shootings have

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Idols, Springboks and Transformation

Print PDFSouth Africa has proven to be a very interesting experiment in transformation over the past 21 years. Transformation has been an integral part of our workplaces over that period and has also found its way into popular culture from the composition of the Springbok rugby team to the winners of SA Idols. In some

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BEE a temporary hedge against populism

Print PDFBlack economic empowerment (BEE) and affirmative action (AA) have been successful in creating a new generation of South Africans entering the middle class and becoming wealthy. This new grouping has much to lose from policies like land redistribution and nationalisation and can offer a temporary hedge against populism. However, to offer long-term protection, we

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Why we should be worried about the EFF

Print PDFMany South Africans may be discounting the EFF as noisy, disruptive and undisciplined, but that could be a mistake. With the right strategy, the EFF could successfully tap into the aspirations of the poor, young and unemployed in SA and become a political force to be reckoned with. With policies such as the expropriation

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Who would you like to see in cabinet?

Print PDFOur country is full of talented individuals who I think can do a better job at cabinet level than the incumbents. Considering the election risk posed by loadshedding as well as the expected rise of the opposition, maybe it is time for government to start looking wider than cadres for top positions. Who would

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ANC/DA Coalition in our future

Print PDFThe political landscape in SA is changing with the two main opposition parties, the DA and the EFF gaining ground. A logical outcome may be a ruling coalition between the two centrist parties, the ANC and the DA with the populist EFF as the opposition. We may see moves in this direction with the

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Light at the end of the tunnel?

Print PDFMany commentators, including myself have explored the problems facing our country over recent months. Loadshedding, corruption, attacks on the judiciary, a weak economy and unemployment come to mind. However, it is not all doom and gloom and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s spend some time looking for it. People

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Why loadshedding is a huge election risk

Print PDFLoadshedding is a bigger risk to the ANC’s performance in the 2016 municipal elections than any other political issue. Unlike other issues, it creeps into the lives of every South African on a regular basis, even those people who are ill informed, disinterested in the political process or generally happy with the government’s performance.

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SA Muslims speak out against ISIS

Print PDFPeople all over the world are concerned about the violent expansion of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. South African Muslims have also spoken out strongly against this grouping, condemning its actions, calling it a terrorist organisation and stated that it is unlawful for anyone to join it. Furthermore, a broad grouping of SA Muslim

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Curro Must Stand

Print PDFCurro was in the news last week for alleged segregation at its Roodeplaat school in Pretoria and this created an outcry in the media and social platforms. There were even people that started a #CurroMustFall campaign. To me, this is an absolute over-reaction based on a lack of information, which disregards the great good

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Dear Government

Print PDFYou have achieved a number of successes over the past 21 years (peaceful transition, improving people’s lives, economic growth, creating a peaceful environment), but you have me worried about an increasing number of issues. I am worried about high unemployment and low economic growth. I am worried about poor education and health outcomes (although

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Speak out South Africa!

Print PDFI am indelibly tied to South Africa. It is the country of my birth, the home that I love, the place where I will grow old with my family and where I will lay my head one day. I am 100% committed to the transition we have seen in our society, the roll-out of

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Corruption – A human condition

Print PDFThe arrest of FIFA officials in the past week has brought discussions on corruption to the fore again. For South Africans who are very concerned with the corruption in our country, this offers an opportunity to look at corruption in a global context. The fact of the matter is that corruption has been prevalent

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Let’s get aggressive with Eskom

Print PDFEskom remains in the news with continued load shedding and increasing talk of a partial privatisation. Recent developments surrounding BHP Billiton’s South32 demerger also offers an opportunity. There are three steps that should be taken surrounding Eskom, namely that Eskom should do a Telkom (form a private sector JV to house its new generation

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Rising health care costs soaring with pharmaceutical pill bottles increasing in size with a red arrow pointing higher as a medical concept showing the high price of health insurance and the challenge to financialy pay for medicine and hospital care.

Why is your medical aid expensive?

Print PDFIn response to my blog last week about medical schemes in SA carrying too much cash on their balance sheets, many people indicated that they are unhappy with how much they pay for medical aid. Most responders felt that they got too little back from their medical aid and that it was poor value

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Too much cash in medical schemes

Print PDFI attended the Actuarial Society of South Africa Health Seminar in Cape Town last week. While much of the agenda focused on developments surrounding benefits being offered (low cost benefits attracting a great deal of attention), one topic stood out to me and that was how medical schemes invest their assets. This led me

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What has driven our GDP growth?

Print PDFThe main measure of a country’s economic performance is the growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) from year to year in real terms (after allowing for inflation). This is often held up as the primary measure of success of a country, although it is important to look at issues such as poverty, GDP per

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The economy, stupid

Print PDFIn 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist coined the phrase “the economy, stupid” to highlight that many of the issues facing America at the time really boiled down to the economic pressures felt by the country. Similarly, many of the issues in SA currently, including xenophobia, the removal of statues, the increasing polarisation and despondency are

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The Rhodes statue is down – what now?

Print PDFOn the 9th of April, the Statue of Cecil John Rhodes was removed from UCT’s upper campus as a cheering crowd looked on. This was seen as a victory by many, but the question is now, whereto from here? Will this symbolic removal lead to the addressing of real underlying issues at UCT? Other

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Eskom should do a Telkom

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Print PDFThe woes at Eskom continue with the suspension of 4 senior executives, continuing load shedding and excessive spending on diesel. Eskom has also applied to Nersa to allow a further 25% rate in electricity tariffs. It is time for government and Eskom to admit that the parastatal has too much on its plate and

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Boost to Western Cape Entrepreneurs

Print PDFI had the pleasure of attending the Western Cape Funding Fair last week, which was a platform to introduce entrepreneurs to different forms of funding, to people such as themselves and to already successful business owners. What stood out to me was the positive energy in the exhibition hall and the auditorium. Everyone was

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Africa, the Promised Land

Print PDFOver recent weeks, so many South African companies have again affirmed their commitment to African expansion and growth. It is no surprise considering that sub-Saharan Africa has been one of the highest economic growth areas over recent years, the consumption market is growing at leaps and bounds and product penetration is low. Africa has

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More power to women, they deserve it

Print PDFIt has taken thousands of years, but finally women are starting to take their place in the sun. An increasing number of women are entering the work place and rising to become captains of industry. More women are getting involved in politics and are becoming world leaders. Not just are most women better off

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SA Government – Undervalued Share?

Print PDFIf you consider all the shares trading on a stock exchange (say the Johannesburg Stock Exchange), some will be highly valued. These are usually the shares of companies that are performing strongly and that investors are willing to pay a great deal for. Other shares though, will be undervalued because investors are unhappy with

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Are constant law changes ruining rugby?

Print PDFIt is Super Rugby time and once again, we have to deal with further changes to the laws. It must be the only sport where at the start of the season only the coaches, players and referees know exactly how the new laws work (maybe). It will take the spectators some time to get

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Buy smelters, mothball, save power Eskom

Print PDFEskom currently provides a large amount of electricity to aluminium smelters in SA and Mozambique at less than half what it costs to produce, putting pressure on its finances and the electricity supply in SA. Eskom should buy these smelters, which are now housed in BHP Billiton spin-off company South32 and mothball them, save

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Unemployment is lower than you think

Print PDFThe latest official unemployment rate in SA is 25% on the narrow definition and 36% based on the expanded definition. Such unemployment levels are very high compared with other emerging markets. However, a large number of people that are officially unemployed are not so in practice. They do work in and earn an income

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Lower AIDS deaths can save you money!

Print PDFPeople who are HIV+ are living longer when receiving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and this trend can put more money in your pocket. In this blog, I will explain why lower AIDS deaths can save you money, even if you are not HIV+. Many people in SA buy and own only one type of life

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AIDS epidemic in South Africa is over

Print PDFMany people in SA still believe that we have an AIDS epidemic in the country. My recent research proves otherwise. HIV/AIDS has become a chronic condition and life expectancy for patients receiving anti retroviral treatment (ART) is higher than for people with Type 2 Diabetes. Government provides treatment for free for patients with a

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Why foreigners love SA financial stocks

Print PDFAmid the rampant negativity that many South Africans exhibit towards the state of the country, our financial markets continue to rise to new record levels. The marginal buyer, pushing up SA stocks, especially financial and industrial stocks is more often than not emerging market fund managers, i.e. foreigners. Why is it that these investors

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We are better off now than 20 years ago

Print PDF A large portion of SA does not believe this, but in this blog I prove that on balance most of us South Africans are much better off now than 20 years ago. The situation that the poor find themselves in has dramatically improved on numerous fronts, while the middle class has become much

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Let me take you back to 1995

Print PDFIt is January 2015! Our future lies ahead of us, but is there anything we can learn from our past? In this blog, let me take you back to 1995 and let’s reflect on what happened then and what this could mean for us now. In 1995, we were in a honeymoon period in

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2014 – A year of turning points

Print PDFAs we approach the conclusion of 2014, I would like to reflect on the significant turning points we experienced during the year and what they could mean for us going forward. Some of these turning points were positive, but many of them were negative, adding to an uncertain future for all of us. All

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My Christmas wish list for the SA Government

Print PDF Dear SA Government, it is that time of the year again. I have tried my best to be good during this past year and I hope that you will fill my Christmas stocking with something special. You are in the best position to grant my wishes and add to my reasons for loving

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11 reasons why I love South Africa and am staying!

Print PDFIn my last few blogs I addressed issues of concern in SA, including the currentelectricity crisis and the problems witheducation. This week I would like to take the opportunity to share my positive views about SA, why I will stay here and why you should stay or come back! I have identified 11 reasons

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Fix SA education system by lifting standards and empowering principals

Print PDF  The release of SA’s annual national assessment (ANA) results for schools last week has again given us reason to pause and reassess. A mathematics pass rate for grade 9s of only 10.8% is dismal and totally unacceptable. I am afraid that this result confirms the poor ranking that SA achieved in the World

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Promote private generation to address electricity crisis

Print PDF In this blog, I address the current electricity crisis that affects us all in our day-to-day lives and risks having a very negative impact on the SA economy. In my view, the best way to address the crisis in the short-term and ensure energy security over the longer term is to allow private

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Import fewer goods, more people and make South Africa GREAT

Print PDFIn this blog, I would like to take on two generally accepted ideas – that it is a bad to impose import tariffs (additional taxes on imported goods) and that it is bad to encourage immigration.  I will suggest that it is a great idea to impose import tariffs on certain goods/industries, but only

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Is the AIDS epidemic in South Africa over?

Print PDFHello readers and welcome to my first real blog (the previous one was just to introduce myself). The short answer to the question posed in the title is an unqualified YES. An epidemic is defined as “a disease affecting many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality

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My Background

Print PDFI am Marius Strydom and the title of my blog is Straight-talking Strydom. Why? The short answer is that this is what I do and what I have a reputation for. The long answer is a bit more boring, but allows me set the scene and establishes my “street cred”. If you don’t feel

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