Friday, 14 July 2017


There is little more perilous in the commentator’s life than making forecasts. Whether it is the gold price, the next wicket, the rainfall or an electorate’s choice, the chance of being correct remains at a stubborn 50% on average. Last week’s bear has vanished. Buyers are back and the crushing debt burden is today as light as a feather. Eish.
Just two months into the fiscal year and already SARS are worrying that they are going to fall well short of their revenue collection target of R1.24 trillion. Word has obviously gone out to shake down the citizenry and this has spurred that Competition Commission to kick every tree in the hope that profit-making corporates will fall out. The state’s view is that anyone making money by satisfying customers is probably trampling over the “rights” of the poor and needs to be punished and fined. We have remarked before that the money extracted in this way doesn’t in fact seem to reach those who were allegedly robbed by the grasping capitalists. Where exactly it does go is not usually clear and we can all have our suspicions. It is noticeable that nowadays the targeted industries are fighting back against these charges quite strenuously. And so more lawyers build even larger digs for themselves. The suppliers of corporate art are also big winners.
There is something rather concerning about the fact that the National Gambling Board is under administration. For 3 years it has not had a board of directors or a CEO. Nevertheless without any supervision, they have still managed to spend almost three billion rand for a “monitoring system”. For a bit less than that they ought to be able to get someone in the office to learn how to make a spread sheet. Governments everywhere are rather keen of keeping an eye on gambling for the simple reason that there’s a great deal of folding money sloshing about in that industry which the bureaucrats understandably would like to tax. They can disguise their intentions with soothing words about “protecting punters” but just like those gamblers, the politicians too are much taken with getting their hands on all that unearned income.
The annual report of a behemoth like Eskom runs to hundreds of glossy pages and weighs kilos. Last year it was almost 10Mbytes. Compilation and publication is a big thing in the life of the organisation, even though it covers the outcome of events that could have taken place nearly a year and a half before. Cancelling its release just days before schedule is not a trivial event and Eskom has done this. Something big has probably occurred and someone has become very worried about their future if the report sees the light of day in its present form. No wonder the latest financial press headlines are about offshore holders of Eskom bonds getting edgy. Whatever can it be?
The flow of confirmation about suspected malfeasance on the part of the government and its agents continues to build as the sleuths unpack the leaked emails. This is offset by the total lack of interest being shown by prosecuting authorities. But someone, somewhere has become very uneasy and a string of astonishing break-ins and thefts of computers and documents has been happening at significant government offices countrywide. The thieves are not hoping to raise a few bob by selling a used desktop to the scrap merchant. The objective of this crime wave is to find something out. Something which might not even exist.  Perhaps evidence of foreign meddling which is intent on “regime change”. The irony of course is that the foreigners are in plain sight and have already been very successful not in just changing the regime but in totally capturing it. The way back from this mess requires a far greater statesman than any currently on stage.
It’s rather sad that I just don’t have emotional strength to take on the additional job of worrying about the fortunes of the national women’s sports teams. They deserve support and attention and despite missing my supervision seem to be doing well. Excellent, But my plate is already overflowing with the mostly men’s events and even more channel hopping threatens to demolish the remote control. The cascade of possible outcomes from this weekend’s Super Rugby is hard enough to think about even before getting one’s mind around Silverstone, Wimbledon, Trent Bridge and Le Tour.
James Greener
Bastille Day 2017