Friday, 9 December 2016


Every three months Stats SA informs the nation how hard it worked in that period. The latest announcement was “Not very at all” and promises of meetings to arrange improvements blossom everywhere. Some consolation was squeezed from the news that the “analysts who should be feared” (aka ratings agencies) have surprisingly held off from downgrading South Africa’s credit rating. Nevertheless, the GDP figures were terrible with most economic sectors producing less value than previously. Most shocking (although being used by Eskom to boast about their overcapacity) is the observation that Utilities output has declined in five of the last six quarters. Is it just coincidence that the Financial and Government sectors are the sole ones to have grown without a pause in the last six years? All that wasteful and unaccounted expenditure must go somewhere!
Deputy president Cyril has been getting all dewy eyed at how wonderful the latest round of minimum wage legislation is going to be for the poor. For a man who can, at a glance, price a buffalo bull to around the nearest million, his grasp of this aspect of the economy is very poor. The total amount of money available for paying the lowliest workers doesn’t increase just because the government says so, and therefore the consequence of a higher minimum wage is mostly fewer wage earners.
If government fiat could indeed make everyone richer then why not just increase this magic number to the desired level in one move? Even the buffalo king must be uneasy with that logic. The only way for the country to grow richer is to stop paying salaries and grants to all those people and students who have nothing to show for their presence but a warm chair seat and dirty tea cups. We, the paymasters, want to see useful deliverables and amazing results from our beneficiaries.
A fellow was tossed off a plane here in Durban only after he had boarded and checked through seven suitcases stuffed with many millions in SA currency. This raises a few questions including what the x-ray image of that sort of luggage looks like and if anyone looked at it. Another is where in the world is there a bank teller prepared to accept without question a very large number of leopards and buffalos, as our two largest denomination notes are affectionally called? Perhaps the answer to the second question lies in the fact that the plane was going to Dubai where Number One’s best friends have built a luxury home.
Claims that a recent court judgement has cleared up the difficulties about the proposed new liquor licensing legislation are not entirely true. The learned judge’s geometry has let him down as he rattled on about an exclusion zone of 500m circumference when he should have been talking about radii. What is still not clear however, is how the lawmakers decided that pupils and churchgoer would regard half a kilometre as too far to travel to get a drink.
The rapid approach of the Christmas season is affecting thinking in all corners of the nation. A think tank tasked with making it easier for foreign visitors to enter South Africa came up with the breath-taking idea to demand abridged birth certificates for minors instead of unabridged ones. The sole difference is in the adjective. But the real genius of the plan however, is that this announcement will not be publicised until after the holiday season.
Over at the schools, the chickens of a broken system are roosting. To keep the conveyor belt of pupils moving through the public “education” system, passing standards are again being compressed. In maths, at some senior levels, getting just one out of five sums correct is now a pass. Herein lies the real tragedy of this country. Just because our leader is innumerate does not mean that we can abandon all our youngsters to the same fate. Pleasingly, however, private enterprise is finding ways to enter the field and satisfy customer expectations while still making money.  This sits uneasily with the militant, incompetent, unionised, bullet-proof layabouts insultingly calling themselves teachers.
Thank goodness for the Bliztbokke! Is there any substance to the rumour that 5 SA taxi drivers have applied to fill the seat at Mercedes vacated by Nico Rosberg?
James Greener
Friday 9th December 2016