Business books you would read (if only someone would write them)
It’s Friday. There is real news.
But imagine for a moment if someone had the time, inclination – and reliable sources – to write accurate books on some of South Africa’s most extraordinary stories. Would you not read these?
(This is parody by the way. Don’t send hate mail.)
“Productivity Our Way” – The Brothers Gupta
If you step back just a moment and consider the enormity of the State Capture Project and how rapidly it subsumed parts of the public and private sectors, it really was a remarkable achievement.
The level organisational skill, and the ability to get others to do much of the dirty work for you, was capitalism at its best.
Anyone who has been through the tedium of applying the traditional way and joining a 5AM queue at Home Affairs knows the fortitude you need to get even one passport every ten years. Rajesh Gupta has been issued eight since 2006. He even applied for two passports in Pretoria on 3 November 2017 and was issued with both documents on the same day.
That is superhuman.
Add to that the ability to appoint and fire cabinet ministers, organise a private landing at a military airbase, and convincing public-sector funders to back a JSE listing.
This would be a book worth reading.
“How to turn R200 billion into R10 billion in 90 days – and stay out of the public eye” – Markus Jooste
There is a joke in the winelands:
“How do you make a small fortune in the wine industry?”
“Start with a big one.”
The same is true of Steinhoff, run until December last year by Markus Jooste, the blue-eyed poster-boy of the Stellenbosch elite. The owner of stables of race horses and expensive properties. Possessed of the Midas Touch.
But Jooste’s magic wore off last year when the company announced it would not be able to deliver its 2017 financial results. Since then it has disclosed its 2016 and 2015 numbers are about as useful as the company is valuable. That is to say: hardly.
Jooste in an SMS to (former) friends and associates accepted personal responsibility for “mistakes” and swore blind he did it all without any assistance.
That is what would make this book such compelling reading. How could one man dupe so many for so long and almost get away with it?
It would be a compelling page turner.
“101 Ways with an audit” – Messers Klynveld, Peat, Marwick, and Goerdeler
If you ever believed that accounting was just about debits and credits, or that a number is either right or wrong, then you are not an accountant.
Ask a mathematician the sum of 1 plus 1 and the answer will be 2. Ask an accountant and they will tell you that it can be whatever you want it to be.
The collapse of public confidence in the auditing profession has been swift. Most people don’t really understand what it is they do, other than they are supposed to be more trustworthy than most members of society. Their quality assurance is supposed to provide certainty to numbers you depend on when deciding where to invest your savings for your retirement one day.
A book on the apparently infinite potential outcomes of an ordinary audit would be good reading around Halloween.
“What did I do wrong?” – Jacob Zuma
The former president seemed genuinely perplexed by his imminent forced departure from office earlier this year, as his rambling 90 minute virtual monologue with the SABC revealed in the hours before his late night resignation from office.
This would make infinitely better reading if ghost written by Deon Meyer using the typical “whodunnit” format of modern crime novels.
By telling the story the former president may very well come to terms with the intimate role he played in selling out the state.
“Suits Me: the 21stcentury minister’s guide to natty dressing” – Malusi Gigaba
This is completely different from the 1980’s style guide of how to “Dress like a Nat.”
This would be the illustrated book. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and to be able to catalogue the extraordinary array of outfits worn over the past five years by the home affairs minister would be a rare treat.
What would be useful, however – to young men with aspirations of winning “best-dressed competitions” at the Durban July – would be a guide on how to look like a million dollars without spending a ministerial salary.
Tailored suits last time we checked were eye-wateringly expensive, so a personal-finance segment on how to make the most of credit cards, lay-byes and favours would be very helpful.
Bruce Whitfield is a multi-platform award winning financial journalist and broadcaster.
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