Friday, 15 August 2014


There is a feeling of unease in the JSE markets. Firstly one of the market darlings has disappeared in a flash of absent funds. Then an unsettling number of companies are muttering about results which are less than exciting and a slew of overseas and local indictors seem to have gone off the boil. The message seems to be Keep Calm but Keep Careful Watch. Note for example that the German Dax index is almost 8% below its July peak and that money is flowing into the US which appears to be regaining its reputation as a safe haven. The dollar and the US long bond are both enjoying price increases. On our own JSE the All Share has remained inside a very modest 700 point trading range for most of the week.
The SA government, however, does not share the view that our economy is fragile and persists in bludgeoning survivors. Gold Fields, for example were this week reminded that they have still not built the clinic and bakery that were supposedly conditions for them being granted the right to mine the technically very tricky South Deep ore reserve. The international airlines have warned that the inflexible and overzealous new visa arrangements for children are already impacting tourism bookings. Nevertheless, they have been dismissed with a flippant reminder to concentrate on their core competency (which) is to ensure that people travel so that they (the airlines) can make a profit.
One of the more dismal developments of the week is the news that “Compliance is now a recognised profession”. There is now such a large and odiferous pile of regulation and legislation that businesses are obliged to hire people to ensure they don’t forget to tick one box, certify one ID or confirm one place of residence. Bureaucrats promise each other that one day they will create the perfect rule which, when complied with perfectly, will reveal everything about everybody and from that information they will be able to save everyone from everything. However, events both deliberate and accidental will forever appear unannounced and ill timed to demolish even the most careful formed strategy and plan. All any enterprise can do is rely on vigilance, honesty and integrity throughout its workforce, customers and suppliers. A room full of signed and compliant documents will never be proof against frauds, losses and simple mishaps nor is it much help against the South African mantra. “It was not me. I was not there.
This will doubtless be the defence offered by robbers who visited the home here in Durban of the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology and made off with half a million rand in cash. The high rank of the victim is perhaps the reason for the amazing haste and skill shown by the police in quickly apprehending the half dozen suspects, although their claim that DNA profiling was used is barely credible. But more interesting would be to learn just how and why the honourable Ms KaMagwaza-Msibi managed to acquire and store so much petty cash. Even in R200 notes that’s a big chunk of change that will require an extremely large purse when going to the shops.
Another politician with a nasty problem he probably never foresaw is Police Minister Mkosinathi Nhleko. He has been asked to determine how much money his boss, President Jacob Zuma, needs to repay to the state for tarting up the Zuma family compound at Nkandla. Now this is a hot potato of note and no one will be surprised if he chooses his superior over the whines of a few taxpayers who probably never voted for him anyway.
Two Pumas teams to watch this weekend. The ones from Nelspruit are coming to Kings Park this evening and so the bowling club bar will empty early. And tomorrow the ‘bokke open their Rugby Championship campaign hosting the Argentineans at Loftus. Two satisfactory results are confidently expected. 
James Greener
National Relaxation Day (USA)