Friday, 14 November 2014


It is puzzling and even rather tiresome how the government keeps trying to seek out presumed malfeasance in various private industries. The state has returned to fret about the alleged collusions in the construction industry half a dozen years ago. Of course when large sums of money are involved not everything is squeaky clean and misuse of public trust and funds does need to be exposed and punished. However, as the industry has wearily explained so many times, the capacity and resources of the nation did need to be allocated carefully in order to meet the expectations of hosting the Soccer World Cup. The JSE data confirms that the industry did enjoy a fourfold increase in earnings in the years before 2010. Shareholders and employees of those companies did benefit. But presumably someone important feels that he or she did not and so the witch hunt continues.
The ironies, however, are ceaseless. Many of the stadium location and design decisions were forced on the nation by FIFA, an organisation that must rank as one of the most corrupt and compromised on the planet. And closer to home our own parliament erupted into a violent uproar when the ruling party refused to allow any opposition to the idea that the nation deserves a president who fails to notice or even be curious when hundreds of millions of rands worth of renovations take place at his private home.
Only serious students of the political scene are able to explain the significance of the rupture between NUMSA and COSATU.  The confusion was compounded when one newspaper referred to the event as a “rapture”. For most of us, this all has much the same import as the news that the bowls club has expelled the croquet club because the members of that section were becoming a bit raucous after tea and threatening to damage the greensward. At its heart the issue is presumably about power and then undoubtedly money. Union leaders can depend upon the reliable cash flow of subscriptions which are deducted automatically from each member’s salary. It would be interesting to see just how numerous union membership would be if employees each month had to prioritise their union subscription against their other spending needs. Unions – and their overarching federation bodies – would truly have to fulfil a need in that worker’s life before he saw any reason to send off the money.
Only politicians and bureaucrats could believe that there will be any real impact from the imminent implementation of the driver’s licence demerit system. There is already a raft of regulations and laws which are ignored and not enforced. A great pity because our roads are very unsafe places these days. What’s the betting that the first drivers to be slapped with a demerit don’t have valid licences anyway?  
The most poignant remark to be aired about the comet landing event this week was a plea to “Jacob and Angie[1]” to at least fix the schools so that our children could learn to read. Deep Space Flight Dynamics could come later. Watching real rocket scientists at work was a deeply emotional experience. It was only when prodded by their fussing and anxious PR staff that they reluctantly faced the cameras and explained to the public – their paymasters – what was happening. Everyone was simply anxious to return to work and apply their enormous personal skills and expertise to the team effort. What a contrast to what is happening elsewhere in the world where ignorance, dogma and superstition are being celebrated and died for.
After last week’s comment about national sides winning went so badly awry it is best I say nothing today.

James Greener
14th November 2014.

[1] President Jacob Zuma and Education Minister Angie Motshekga