Gloria Britain Review Article.doc

BOOK REVIEW by Gloria Britain


Read what Gloria says about Bullets or Ballots.

Book Review in City Press by Prof Gumede.gif

BOOK REVIEW by Prof Gumede

Read what Prof William Gumede has to say about Ruben's book - BULLETS or BALLOTS.

Gumede says: "Richards says poor implementation of policies by government is only a small part of the problem. South Africans - individually and collectively - urgently need a mindset change, he argues. 

...[Richards] as a former leading official of both the TRC and the Scorpions, he could have provided insight into the internal workings of these institutions and what made them successful - or not.

I would have like an insider's view of what happened within the Scorpions when it was controversially closed down. Perhaps these are subjects for future books?"

Review, Critique and Comment concerning ...


The ultimate solution to crime and unemployment in South Africa 

(Published by Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust, Johannesburg: 2010.)


Heather de Wit (Hout Bay, Cape Town)  -  As an avid reader, not in a long, long while, have I been so deeply moved and inspired by this intelligent book.  A remarkable human being, Ruben speaks his truth and gives ALL South Africans a chance to breathe and think and aspire to a miracle ? YES they DO happen! EVERY South African MUST read this book ? Pull your ?in denial? heads out of the sand and face what is really happening in our country ? As you read this book, you will find that intrinsically you know it all to be true and YES this is the ULTIMATE answer to crime and poverty in this wonderful country of ours, that is going down the tubes and ?  we MUST all do something as citizens of this fine land to save it !


Dr Raymond Patel (CEO of merSETA ? Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Skills Education and Training Authority of South Africa) . Some comments taken from Dr Patel?s keynote address at the launch of the book on 4 Nov 2010, Cape Town.

With this book Ruben asks very difficult questions ? In typical Ruben style he?s not afraid to put the debate in the open and to express his views to illicit debate ? He has the guts to question whether South Africa is actually a truly free and democratic society when we are still in economic bondage ? This is not a book of ?why? ? It is a book of ?how??  how to create jobs, how to reduce crime ? This book is a deliberate call to action ? Ruben calls on fellow patriots to take stock about what is happening and what we are doing about it. I especially like his new ten commandments for a successful South Africa. I believe this book will inspire us to be more proactive and not want to look at South Africa eventually reaching an ultimate disaster.


Stewart Jennings (PG Group CEO) -  The book is essential reading for any business in South Africa interested in turning around the unemployment crisis. The concepts are essential to  the solution. The book is at times repetitive, but the industrialisation message is strident and a call for all businesses in South Africa to rally around.  


Mothobi Mutloatse (Publisher) ? taken from a speech delivered at the  Cape Town launch of BULLETS or BALLOTS

Ruben has proposed a solution to South Africa's most pressing problems - job creation, unemployment, crime and poverty. This is a passionate, brave and politically incorrect book. Ruben dares to say "the unsaid". It is methodologically systematic and very concise in terms of how to solve our problems in South Africa.

Ruben is brave to tackle the issue of race. He says that during Apartheid he was not white enough and now in the new South Africa he is not black enough. He shows how  we can cross the race divide to make this country work. He also dares to raise the issue of Ubuntu asking if it has the solution to industrialise South Africa.

Ruben reflects everything that an intellectual should be - brave and daring the rest of the world to prove him wrong even his own fellow compatriots. If the book has a weakness then it is that Ruben is patriotic to a fault. He is not obsessed with how he was wronged during Apartheid. He says we must move on and save this country that we all love.

As a publisher I am interested in whether Ruben provides the solutions that his children and my children and their children's children will want out of us - the first generation of post-Apartheid and pro-democracy nation builders.

Ruben is not passing the buck. He says the answer to South Africa's problems will not come from America, China or Europe. The answer, he says, is within each South African patriot.

This is a must read for all South African patriots and those interested in ensuring that South Africa emerges victorious from centuries of racial oppression and inequality.


Rev Diba Madolo (Pastor - Progressive Bethel Baptist Church, South Africa) -  You sounded really 'gatvol' in your book - 'twas a good read!  At least you are not scared to speak your mind, and more than that you offer practical solutions - that's doing something about it. There is still a prophet in you!"



Jayesh Nair (Investment Officer, Johannesburg)  Really enjoyed the book although it took  me longer than I had anticipated ? it can?t be read in the same way as one reads a novel! Stuff needed time to simmer and sink in. I found the ?New Commandments? bit particularly thought-provoking. You raise the real issues and are not afraid to say what most people are only happy to think in private. This of course will raise questions about the political ?correctness? of a lot of issues you deal with, and I fear cause many to shy away because you hit too close to home. Ultimately as always, it will be about the willingness of the powers that be to make real and meaningful change ? I don?t think that there are many who are happy to do much more than pay lip service at this point. You may therefore find that you are ahead of the curve on some of these issues.



Dr Stefan Jacobs, DITASA [Development Institute and Training Academy of South Africa], a private FET (further education and training) College -  At first I was skeptical about the book ? ?not another person trying to make a political statement?. But I started to change my view and even critically looked at the research base that was used to bring across a message that our politicians needs to take note of as I read the book. I must also congratulate you on how you argued certain points in the book. True to your nature you kept it at a very high intellectual level. I will recommend the book and hope people will take notice of the message thereof.


Paul Clarence - former tradesman and now Managing Director, Global Spec (Pty) Ltd - and engineering inspection company.

This book is long overdue. It?s call for the celebration of the contribution of blue collar workers, especially artisans, is most welcome. Never before has anyone so clearly and explicitly recognised the important role that tradesmen play in the recovery and ongoing growth of our economy. This book is a must read for all engineering and other companies, especially those training apprentices. It is good to know that the author himself (although a Professor today) was once upon a time an apprentice and artisan himself. An inspiring story.


Gloria Britain (Transformation and Change Consultant and Coach, Johannesburg)

Bullets or Ballots is a call to action in a voice that is direct and urgent. Dr Richards? solutions to crime and unemployment as two major challenges facing South Africa today, suggests a mind and paradigm shift ? a different national psyche.

What he proposes is that we take on an industrial consciousness both as individuals and as a nation. What is this industrial consciousness? Productivity, organisation and efficiency are some of the principles he argues should be at the centre of this new consciousness.

To be able to be taken more seriously in the global economic landscape, Africa has to address the fact that it accounts for just over 1% of world industry. South Africa, who ?holds the hope? for the continent, has some responsibility to show the way in this regard.

Dr Richards?s points out that the role of the state is to take leadership and to ?get the macroeconomic environment, skills development and industrial policy right?, leaving job creation to business and the private sector.

He brings our attention back to the misalignment of our education system, our economic goals and the skills needed in our labour market if we are going to create an attitude of industrial consciousness.

The ?shoot to kill? approach to criminal activity recently adopted by the police is indicative of the lack of a holistic perspective and the desperation with which individuals in our law enforcement sector want to end crime. Making direct links between unemployment and crime is so critical if we want to move forward. 

Over time, we all have all become more aware of the ?missing link?- the gap between policy and implementation. This becomes more evident as we see the increasing number of service delivery protests and strike action. Richards suggests that it is in our individual and collective consciousness that we have to create the bridge between the two in order to move from policy to action.

Bullets or Ballots is authentic because it reflects Dr Richards? personal account of combined theoretical and practical experience and insights that bring him to what he proposes in his book. I found myself dipping into different sections for ?quick reads? on the many ideas he puts forward. His book is a refreshing and brazen attempt at showing us how to eat the unemployment and crime elephant in South Africa.

We need more of this style of discourse to enter the public space in different and accessible forms. (For a FREE downloadable WORD document version of this review click here


Eduard Scholtz - Chief Social Entrepreneur, Mobicom - I personally believe your book is cutting through the layers of misbelieves that is currently forming the cornerstone of our economic development strategy.  As an ex-investment officer for a major B-BBEE company and moving out of there for the exact reasons that you have highlighted in the book, I wish to concur that we as South-Africans need to urgently re-assess our socio economic growth strategies and need intensify our efforts to sensitise and educate our mass consumer base accordingly.



Prof Annamarie Kruger (North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Faculty of Health Sciences)   In principle I totally agree with your diagnosis of the problem.  My view on solving it is also similar to that of yours and is actually visible in the interventions we implement in disadvantage communities.  However, the problem that we have to address everywhere is this 'hand-out  culture' in order to make an intellectual (mind) shift towards own responsibility to see opportunities, to take it and to sustain efforts.  The other problem is that industry does not have the 'time capital' to allow the masses to make that mind shift.  Therefore, I believe, a small start is also better than nothing.  I think the industrialisation process in large and the small scale sustainable job creations should walk hand in hand and side by side.  There are different models to implement it and I am so convinced that it will work.  We should have a proper talk regarding this. Well done.


Prof William Gumede (P&DM Wits University). Review in City Press August 14, 2011, page 27. (For a downloadable and full text of the review click here 


Fitter and turner by trade turned Scorpion head Ruben Richards explores solutions to our new democracy's greatest challenges - unemployment and crime.

"If South Africa as a country does not change course, writes Richards in this passiionately argued book, the masses, angry with being perpetually stuck in poverty - while the white elite as the beneficiaries of apartheid and the new black elite as the beneficiaries of the democratic period are becoming richer - will soon replace the ballot for the bullet...

Richards says poor implementation of policies by government is only a small part of the problem. South Africans - individually and collectively - urgently need a new mindset, he argues... [what Richards calls "industrial consciousness"]

A shortcoming of the book .... [A]s a former leading official of both the TRC and the Scorpions, he [Richards] could have provided insight into the internal workings of these two institutions and what made them successful - or not.

I [Gumede] would have liked an insider's view of what happened within the Scorpions when it was controversially closed down. Perhaps these are subjects for future books?"



Chris van den Heever: Founder EntrepenAchiever (Cape Town).  Dr Ruben Richards offers in his book Bullets or Ballots a well thought through and refreshing solution to our country?s challenges of unemployment, crime and eventually poverty. He supports the school of thought that proposes industrial development as the key to moving a country from poverty to wealth. Dr Richards suggests that we build industries that create mass based employment opportunities to address the challenges of unemployment, crime and inevitably poverty.

Dr Richards demonstrates his brilliant analytical and inquisitive mind by probing  provocative questions throughout his book, like,? if industrialisation is the key to eliminating poverty, why is it not happening in South Africa??.  He does not only intellectualise about the problem but also offers strategies to visualise his vision, see p.242.

Dr Richards must be credited for coming up with a brilliant innovative idea when addressing the legacy of structurally designed inequality within the South African economy. He proposed that the nation laid down a ratio of 1000:1 as a standard by which to measure the closing of the inequality gap in our society. This idea translates the concept of spreading wealth amongst the nation from theory to practice.

His illustration of practical solutions in the form of e.g. case learning, a rescue plan, a Code of good practice for government and exercises indicates that this book can be used as a very effective tool for active learning in the field of public policy development.

The author challenges us as the first generation post-apartheid nation builders to see ourselves as part of the solution and to develop creative and innovative solutions to address our problems by setting an excellent example himself.