Thursday, 15 June 2017


Another long weekend starts tonight, or even earlier for those affected by the minibus taxi drivers’ strike. They appear to be protesting about the facts of life; like stuff getting ever more expensive. It didn’t get better for those of us who were within reach of the demonstration that the minister of mineral resources has not a single clue about how business works. After ample evidence in the past decade that the political allocation of resources does not work in any way he has simply deemed that there must be even more of the same. It is just too dreadful for the markets, mine workers and the nation.
The Bear that has been shuffling around the JSE is getting bigger and bolder. In some sectors there may even be the faint whiff of panic. The All Share is off more than 5% in a month and the resources counters are chalking up losses of even 15% from their 6 month highs. The rand and bond market meanwhile are both stable and so we are watching a local phenomenon. Is the state pension fund – the county’s largest– starting to liquidate holdings? This is run by a unit under control of the minister of finance and the recent deluge of leaked emails has revealed that the new man in this post (Malusi Gigaba) is quick to do what Number One needs to make his friends happy. And his friends may be running out of cash. The low hanging fruit at most of the state-owned enterprises has now been picked and so another source of cash has to be tapped. That will be really bad if it has even a grain of truth.
What a gift to columnists. The new Financial Intelligence Act is now in place and ready to make the Pips squeak! Pips are “prominent influential persons” who will in future attract “enhanced due diligence” when opening a banking or broking account. It all sounds very praiseworthy but it is also an admission that the existing legislation has failed to stop money laundering. Those of us who are small and insignificant enough for our banks to hassle us, have been hugely inconvenienced over the years with demands to prove where we live and trips to the police station so that a bored constable can certify a copy. Meanwhile the real money did precisely what it liked. Like take overseas trips in big carry-on bags. Much as we would like to believe that the bad guys are going to get caught, our experience and cynicism suggests that not much will change.
A top-ranking business man has come up with a new name for an old idea. Rightly appalled at the utter moral decay of those who claim to be guiding this country, Mr Bonong Mohale, chairman of Shell in SA, wants to try and get us back on track and protect the constitutional order. He proposes a “fund” which will spend its donor’s (or is it investor’s – it’s not entirely clear) money more effectively than they could themselves. The name is The Integrity Fund. Beneficiaries of the fund would be activities which were attempting to put the country on a better path. Contributors would be the usual suspects – business. Sadly, it is very likely that the first casualty of such a venture will be the failure to live up to its name.
It is very odd that New Zealand dilute their All Black brand by selecting a B team on racial grounds. There is something very hypocritical about it all. It prompts most of us to look forward to seeing the British & Irish Lions (vigorous non-racialism there!) give them a hiding this weekend. The problem for those Lions, however, is the amazement expressed by their coach that he has just learned that New Zealand sides play for 80 minutes. Which is something the baby ‘bokke failed to do in Georgia. And the Proteas entirely lost their way in the Champions Trophy as well. Two ignominious early departures from their respective international tournaments was very hard to watch. Reward for loyal SA rugby fans however is possible with the Durban double header starting tomorrow when the Kings Park faithful are being enticed to sample the Moses basket with a rare second string international being played the day before the senior test match on Saturday at the proper venue. I wonder if the soccer stadium management realise the importance of easy access to well-priced refreshments for influencing spectators?
James Greener
Magna Carta Day 15th June 2017