Friday, 28 October 2016


This would seem to be the slogan of the moment. Even with the many distressing political and social events unfolding every day there is scant evidence of panic in the prices. But as the old adage says: If you are going to panic, panic early. Perhaps it is interesting to see demand for the US dollar taking the greenback stronger against most other currencies. But it’s not yet a huge thing. Locally there’s a perfectly normal mix of good and bad trading statement updates. Of course, there’s still the annoying and unhelpful yapping of the Competition Commission terriers desperate to unearth the tennis balls they suspect are hidden among the nasty profiteering worker-hating capitalists.
There are so many inferences one can draw from the sight of Number One falling asleep while Minister Gordhan unpacked the bad news in the mid-term budget. The charitable one is that JZ had prior sight of the document and was hearing nothing to which he had not diligently applied his mind. The conspiracy view is that nodding off was a deliberate snub and show of contempt and disdain for his Finance Minister. But we do know that our president has form in being baffled by large monetary numbers and is not much interested in matters such as tax increases and spending cutbacks if it doesn’t threaten his personal arrangements. As a precaution against unhappy citizenry wanting to get close and personal to discuss these matters JZ has increased his security cordon. Road-users have been warned to expect even longer and faster blue-light motorcades.
Those of us who have picked through the MTB numbers find a bleak picture which once again raises the question that if all these years of central planning have brought us to this low growth mess why not try something different. Like letting people spend their money as they see fit and not have to give it to a politician for them to squander. And although Gordhan has scraped together quite a bit more cash for the frankly selfish tertiary level learners, early signs are that this will not meet their demands and total stupidity remains the fall-back position. Us oldies still puzzle why immediate and permanent rustication is not handed out to those who do things like light a fire on the floor in the sports hall.
It’s very significant that the US presidential election takes place just a few days after Halloween.  Voters will have some experience of witches, ghouls and pumpkin heads and so will not be totally terrified by the choices that their great nation has awaiting them in the polling booth. That iconic image of a mother holding her new-born up at arm’s length and saying “One day you could be President” obviously hasn’t worked for years. No sensible family would be proud to see their offspring enter politics and indeed the evidence suggests that few do.
Stories are coming in of a new low in the treatment of visitors arriving at Joburg International having to wait in line for hours to have their “biometrics” processed.  Our leaders have decided that it is necessary and useful to capture all ten finger prints of every new arrival. However, a shortage of both staff and equipment is making things go very slowly. Now what risk is the country trying to manage with this tedious and unfriendly process? Are the finger prints being matched in real-time in some huge global data base of foes and felons? If not, then all that can be happening is that these exciting “biometrics” are merely being tagged with the details in the passport presented by the visitor. It’s worth noting that there is zero guarantee that those details do identify the now enraged and delayed money-spending arrival standing in front of the immigration officer. As our own country’s fraying reputation in this matter shows, forged documents are common.
The local rugby season is over and now the administrators take to the field. There’s a lot to accomplish country wide if the ‘bokke are to be revived. Already there is considerable traffic through the door at the Sharks offices.
James Greener
Friday 28th October 2016