Remembering Stanley Uys

George Palmer looks back over the life of a dear friend and former colleague


How many times have I thought  "Why can't I write like Stan"? How many political commentators must have wondered the same thing? And now he's gone and I cried inside when I got the news, feeling a deep sense of loss at the sudden departure of a dear friend and former colleague.

It was a relationship stretching back decades to the time when I arrived at South African Associated Newspapers in 1959 to help establish the Financial Mail. A newcomer to journalism, the first page I would turn to in the Sunday Times each week would be Stan's political commentary - an inside story on what the Nats and the United Party (and all the rest) were really up to, who was doing what to whom and the consequences for South Africa and its governance.

It was a model to follow when the FM came to reporting and analysing the inherent conflict between economics and politics, between an apartheid-state based on a destructive racial discrimination and a business-driven private sector whose future depended on ever-closer inter-racial cooperation to increase productivity and sharpen competitive ability..

Stan's genius was his rare ability to uncover and analyze the ups and downs of the ensuing power struggles in a style that effortlessly carried the reader along with an engaging mix of intrigue, inside information and compelling logic that was as fast-paced as it was convincing. Helped, of course, by a bulging Rolodex containing an amazing range of contacts ready and willing to share the inside story with Stan.

It was my good fortune to renew our relationship in 1990 after Hazel and I returned to London from Los Angeles following a stint in Tokyo. Over lunch one day Stan told me about the blog -- "ever-fasternews.com" -- he was helping to establish with James Myburgh. Stan could never resist the challenge of figuring out the complex ups and downs and ins and outs of South African politics and politicians. He was kind enough to suggest I might occasionally contribute a piece on the implications and consequences for the economy.

The outcome was that from time to time I would -- or Stan would -- suggest a topic and we would sometimes work jointly on a draft and submit it to James who by then was editor of Politicsweb.

Stan was always a pleasure to work with. Invariably gentle and supportive and a generous critic. Often he would send his first draft of a piece for Politicsweb to me for a look-over. It was a co-operative effort I enjoyed tremendously. As were our reunions with Stan and Sarchen at their home whenever we were in London.

Alas those days are over. Our annual visits will never be the same. However we hope to fill the void by continuing to get together with Sarchen along with other old friends we shared with Sarchen and Stan.

And to recall the joys of days gone bye.

George Palmer

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