Friday, 24 March 2017


Even as we South Africans look about in wonderment at the way things appear to be disintegrating, our currency shows unmistakably that somebody loves us. Or loves our currency at least. The rand just keeps on steadily getting stronger. Pretty soon northern hemisphere summer holidays are going to be affordable. Pleasing yet astonishing. Share and bond market prices indicate that it is the latter which is attracting the greater interest. Bond prices are up a very creditable 5% in the last few months. Obviously, the threat of a downgrade to “junk” (aka non-investment grade) status, which theoretically ought to be bad for bond prices, is being ignored. Libertarians looking for something the government has yet to find a way to monitor and control have noted that Krugerrands are now priced around R17 000 each after being well above R20 000 a year ago.
Maybe from overseas our conversion into a socialist nanny state where the government wants to take every decision for us does not seem unusual. But in a nation where there is still a great deal of pioneer spirit and disdain for authority the clammy hand of control is tightening its grip. The most alarming facet of this bureaucratic overload is the damage and brake it puts on the wealth-creating commercial activities. The hassle and cost of getting simple things done like collecting a container from the docks, buying foreign exchange for a holiday and getting paid by a government department for goods and services rendered are stifling. The near total lack of understanding of the commercial impact of reducing the freeway (for which a toll has been paid) to a single lane on a long weekend Friday is deeply frustrating and causes far more danger than will ever be controlled by reducing all speed limit by 10kph. Or banning liquor advertisements. If you think that private company CPS’s charge to distribute the social grants is outrageous (which it probably is) just wait until the state creates the machinery to do it.
And each one of these intrusions on our lives necessitates the creation of yet another organisation, institute, association, foundation, trust or council which will watch over us, beg from us, threaten us, control and count us. Each one laboriously crafts a name usually beginning with the letters SA so we are now drowning is a sea of acronyms. Faint thanks to the reader (pedant!) who pointed out that unless the letters make up a pronounceable word, the proper term ought to be initialism.
SAQA, an outfit which runs the National Learners Records Database (NLRD naturally!),  issued a communique recently pointing out what many already know to their cost. Which is that there are more qualified people in SA than there are jobs for them. This lamentable state of affairs does however suggest a partial solution to the university funding crisis. Since there are too many graduates, simply raise the academic barrier to entry of the various degrees until the output matches demand. This process must of course be accompanied by an increase in technical training facilities which should be far cheaper per capita than a place among the dreaming spires.
Apparently it costs the SABC R650m to open its doors every month and the broadcaster is complaining that it has run out of money. Only 12% of SABC’s income is from the TV licence fees. This indicates that there are probably fewer than about 4m licence holders which seems very low. Especially when compared to the 14 million people in SA who have “smart” phones and spend every waking minute poring over their tiny screens. This illustrates that the nearly free-to-air broadcast model is woefully out of date and the assets of that dinosaur ought to be put up for sale to save us all further pain.
Reportedly it’s dawning on the SANZAR suits that the Super 18 is not fit for purpose, which presumably is to entertain fans and develop players who can give the northern hemisphere sides a walloping every time. There was a time when this tournament was claimed to be the premier global event and producing far better rugby than even what was then the Five Nations. It’s not delivering that now, especially here on the southern tip. So the Bafana/Senegal match was rigged.  How can you tell? The players seem to fall down a lot even when untouched.
Go for it Proteas!
James Greener
Friday 24th March 2017