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Pan Macmillan

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Bryan Rostron on the Mbeki Brothers and Architects of Poverty

Architects of PovertyShehmilla Mohamed & Moeletsi MbekiOne is tempted to ask what former president Thabo Mbeki thinks about his younger brother, Moeletsi Mbeki, and his new, scathingly critical work of Africa’s ruling elite, Architects of Poverty: Why Africa’s Capitalism Needs Changing. Moeletsi takes umbrage at Africa’s leaders and their extravagant indulgences and explores many of the continent’s other undemocratic ills in the work.

In an intriguing response to the book, author Bryan Rostron speculates on the genesis of Architects of Poverty in the context of Mbeki sibling rivalry:

Younger brothers play a large role in the demonology of a friend who has investigated some of the world’s biggest frauds. When a possible suspect emerges, he says, his first question is always: is this person the youngest in their family? His theory would never stand up in court . But my friend reels off examples of huge bank stings and insurances swindles where his rule applies. In fact, in one case, the wife of a suspect convinced her husband to confess, saying, “You’re dealing with the modern Hercule Poirot.”

As an only child, I’m not endorsing this junior sibling hypothesis. But I wonder if SA’s former president Thabo Mbeki feels this way about his younger brother, Moeletsi. Even while Mbeki Snr was state president, Moeletsi was one of his sharpest critics. Yet there’s nothing dodgy about the younger Mbeki. His critique has been consistent, factually rigorous and is now collected in a book, Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing. In fact, his criticism is almost a mirror image of my friend’s “younger brother” idea.

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