I first met Jim when we worked together on South Africa as it embraced democracy.
It was an exciting time given the promise. It was also a disappointing time because decisions taken then ultimately led to the current impasse.
But on both counts, it was an unexpected pleasure to find myself alongside a fellow economist who shared deep roots in Zimbabwe and in South Africa itself—and therefore in the hopes for the future that can only come of that compromised heritage. He brought more cool and reserve to the task than I, but the mix was potent. And as "local boys", we were both unashamedly delighted to get the opportunity to meet—and debate—those leading the effort: Tito Mboweni, the grandstanding goodfellow; Trevor Manuel, the earnest conformist; Alec Erwin, the befuddled muddle; and Joe Slovo, the highest honor for us both.
Very much later, our paths crossed again, on Greece. Where I'd earlier left the Fund in protest at its work on Europe, he took charge of one of the ex-post reviews of its particular work in Greece. Sometime after publication, I asked him briefly about it. He replied, in tones soaked in understatement and meaning, that the experience of producing the paper had been "interesting". Indeed.
He would have thrilled to see the end of Mugabe, and perhaps even moreso, the ascent of Cyril Ramaphosa, both at long last. Even with all the doubts remaining in the wake of both events—doubts that he would immediately have grasped—he would have allowed himself a little extra twinkle in his eye.