Tribute to Professor Harry Zarenda

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the recent death of Professor Harry Zarenda. Harry was well known in the Economics community, and as a committed member of the Economic Society of South Africa. He was a member of the Economics Department (later the School of Economic and Business Science at Wits for approximately 40 Years). During that time he often served at Acting Head of School and in various other official capacities within the Faculty of Commerce.

I knew Harry first as one of his students, then later on as a colleague at Wits, and most importantly as a friend. Writing this, the words that come to mind repeatedly are that he was quite simply one of the kindest, most decent human beings that I have ever met. I am sure that this sentiment is shared by all those within ESSA who came into contact with him and by the many thousands of students that had the privilege to be taught by him.

As an Economist he made contributions in various fields but primarily within Development Economics, and Trade and Industrial Policy but his influence extended way beyond the papers he published. One of the most extraordinary things was the way in which everybody turned to Harry for comments on their own work. He was exceptionally generous with his time and his comments and the result was that people from the extreme left to the extreme right (however loosely that might be defined) turned to him for input. He was able to cut through ideological differences and focus on the core merits of the arguments being presented. Behind the scenes he made various contributions to the development of post-apartheid economic policy.

In the last few years, whilst he was struggling with cancer, I never once heard him complain and he remained generous in spirit and in deed.

On a personal note, it is incredibly painful to say good-bye to this extraordinary man and as a Society we have lost one of our own. Please join me in celebrating his life and mourning his death.

He will be missed.

John Luiz
President: Economic Society of South Africa


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