Leon told an audience at GIBS university in Johannesburg that “tomorrow will be better than it is today”.
He said that in many ways South Africa’s “rainbow” period after the country’s democratisation in 1994 had done South Africa as much harm as it had done South Africa good because “dogs who should have been barking in the night were quiet”.
He said ANC president Jacob Zuma would not get the “free pass” that “failed president” Thabo Mbeki had been given.
“Things will be held up to scrutiny,” he said.
There was more recognition of crises in South Africa now than there had been in the past.
“I could tell you many things that are wrong with Jacob Zuma, but at least you know them already,” Leon said.
Presidents did not need deference, but they needed defiance.
He said South Africa’s Constitution, which was meant to be a mighty oak, had become a bonsai tree.
Economically South Africa should not emulate a United Kingdom or a China, but rather emulate a Mexico or a Thailand and create 6,5-million more jobs.
“High skill and low skills are complementary, like coffee and sugar,” he said and high-skilled jobs should be fostered because they would give rise to demand for all skills.
Education was now worse in South Africa than it was 15 years ago and said that former apartheid president FW De Klerk was claiming that he had a greater black mathematics and science passes than the Mbeki government.
South Africa had become obsessed with “racial bean counting” in its black economic empowerment.