Book Extract

Tony Leon unpacks how SA went from guiding light to laughing stock in new book

Among his many political hats, Tony Leon served as South African ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. In this chapter from his latest book he gives personal insight into the hypocrisy and idiocy that has damaged SA’s stature on the international stage in its lamentable descent from the moral high ground that the country occupied under Nelson Mandela

07 March 2021 - 00:00

Dissipating, and often simply robbing, the depleted coffers of the state had become commonplace in Jacob Zuma’s South Africa. It was a pattern that continued apace under the management of Cyril Ramaphosa. In an overcrowded field of contenders for the crown of excrescent expenditure, the annual gathering for all South African heads of diplomatic missions, flown in from around the world, and fed and watered at state expense in Pretoria to hear often rambling discourses from the president, ministers and a clutch of state officials, was a top contender.

During my ambassadorship abroad, attendance at these gatherings added very little to my store of knowledge on the diplomatic function — in fact, nothing that couldn’t be gleaned from the reams of documents that poured in daily to the South African embassy in Buenos Aires...

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