Friday, 31 March 2017


It’s a dreadful shock to realise that one’s country has become another place where the leader’s sole concern is his personal enrichment. All those aspirations which many of us truly have for a land of equality of opportunity and a surplus that can be used to support the indigent, don’t even cross Number One’s mind as he ignores wisdom, convention and decency and seeks affirmation and support from a growing circle of thugs and sycophants. Last night’s reshuffle has significantly reduced the education, skill and experience levels of the Cabinet and introduced even more known fraudsters and incompetents. Pravin Gordhan’s axing will surprise no one, as its widely thought that it was he alone who stood in the way of JZ’s looting of the fiscus and the banking needs of the president’s dubious foreign-born allies
Zuma supporters will be delighted with the developments because they have been told it will substantially improve access to the two benefits that were supposed to accrue from their long-promised freedom. Namely, land and wealth. As we have pointed out numerous times there is nothing in the Treasury vaults but moths and a huge ledger of money owed. And much of that cash to be repaid is owed to the savers and pensioners of this country – only a few of whom might be called monopoly capitalists. Just what the new compliant Minister of Finance is expected to do for the expectant millions is a mystery. Any expenditure he redirects from its budgeted destination will trigger howls of anguish. But Zuma has shown he will not hear them. Note the new Public Protector’s complaint that she can’t possibly be expected to do what her predecessor managed unless her allocation from Treasury is increased fivefold. The land question is equally unclear with not only the Constitution but also the existing ownership records revealing inconvenient realities.
The good(ish) news is that the rand’s “collapse” following the latest clowning episode has so far been gentler that the screaming headlines and forecasters would suggest. Indeed, it is still stronger than it was at the end of last year. Clearly there are steady buyers of our currency who use these panic-induced dips as buying opportunities. It would be nice to know who they are and why are they doing it.
Meanwhile all the usual shenanigans of a state with far too much interest in and power over the rest of us, continue. The SABC, which by its own admission is scaring off audiences and advertisers was handed a new board of directors.  But then another key-board thumper insisted that they all be “vetted” which sounds like a painful process. Mind you if it resulted in a team of people interested and competent in broadcasting that would be a good thing.
April Fool’s Day is very close so maybe one needs to treat with care the story that “The Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill” is a real thing. The compilers of that piece of legislation are obviously not students of irony. Even weirder is that big business is complaining that the Act is too biased in favour of small business. Surely the path to be followed here is to prune and cull all those existing Acts that tell businesses and people of every size and kind how to do things. In similar vein is the peevish observation by Oxfam that the Big Banks are still using tax havens. The implication is that if they didn’t, more tax would be paid to governments who would spend that money better than the shareholders and staff of those banks would. This is a totally unproven hypothesis which people are increasingly rejecting. The Brexit and Trump votes were cast by people rejecting extra layers of bureaucracy and know-what’s-best politicians.
New Zealand cricket fans must understand that our delight at seeing the rain falling was just that it’s not something we see much of here and had nothing to do with the 1-0 Test Series victory. We also haven’t seen many Ferrari GP wins so there was more delight there from the antipodes. I shall not bring up The Lions vs Sharks pairing at Ellis Park at the bowling club bar this evening in case it rouses passions, however I shall put my oar in (as it were) for a Cambridge victory in Sunday’s Boat Race. One of televised sport’s great pleasures is to introduce a newcomer to this amazing test of fitness and stamina that takes place under grey skies and on a brown river. It’s very hard to answer their inevitable question: “Why?”
James Greener
Friday 31st March 2017