Monday, 9 October 2017


Suddenly it’s all looking and feeling a bit different. Some reasonably long lived trends are reversing and our poor rand is really battling to hang on. Exchanging one today will buy you fewer US cents or UK pence than at any other time in the past 12 months. The compensation for this is that so-called rand-hedge shares are touching all time highs and that is dragging the indices higher and causing wide eyed excitement amongst the TV pundits.
The video footage of a political meeting held earlier this week is remarkable for the number of plastic chairs which can be seen sailing high in the air from one end of the hall to the other. While far less deadly that the appalling shooting incidents that are growing in number as the ruling party tries to find a new leader, the chairs undoubtedly also cause great harm and add nothing to the debate. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is a candidate in this contest and who must be feeling very insecure said “we must rid our movement of flying chairs and stop the spate of killing.” Indeed sir. Indeed.
Developments in South Africa recall that incident when a bishop is murdered in his own cathedral “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”  This week the eternally irritating and meddlesome Competition Commission failed to see the irony as the nation’s biggest abuser of dominance in levelling that charge against Vodacom. Now no one for a moment suggests that the bureaucrats and politicians who ceaselessly hassle any corporate or individual who appears to be successful should be carted off in a tumbril to the steps of the Union Buildings and beaten with rolled up copies of the accused’s tax return. A long journey in a crowded minibus taxi on a dirt road to some rural enclave with no internet should be sufficient. The puzzle is that the fusspots are worried that Vodacom’s success has partially arisen from winning an open tender to provide a branch of government with services. For goodness sake. It was indeed a good and tasty contract to win and was large because that’s what the client specified. Just leave the private sector alone please.
It is disheartening that the government’s obstinate refusal to acknowledge that their racist employment policies have denied the newcomers to the workforce an opportunity for mentoring and accumulation of the “institutional memory” so important to customer service. The state’s first reaction to any challenge to their own interpretation of the increasingly byzantine and convoluted legislation is to rush to the courts seeking punishment of any who dares to question them. Reportedly many of the new laws are so hastily and sloppily framed that the lawyers taking part in the argy-bargy sessions are starting to rival the Guptas in wealth. Ours!
So it wasn’t the pension savings of government employees that were looted for the latest bale-out of SAA. It was current expenditure programs which will soon run out of money before they run out of month. The cash was siphoned off the General Revenue Fund which as we have explained many times has far less dosh in it than has been budgeted for distribution. What is it with despots and their national airline?  They’re all destined for the scrapyard anyway as Mr Musk, the Man from Muckleneuk predicts we’ll be able to fly to anywhere on earth in under an hour. That sounds exciting but can he also do something about the long queues to rid passengers of their nail scissors and water bottles and check their ID for the 10th time. Mind you, the sort of acceleration required to meet that schedule will pretty much pin everyone to their chair on the way up and into their seatbelt on the way down. No opportunity for the baddies to threaten the pilot there.
That tomorrow’s test might be the last at Newlands is sad. Apparently the power to choose a venue has moved up the line to the SA Rugby Board itself and they could choose Bathurst or Baltimore if they thought it would work. It’s a funny old world.
James Greener
Friday 6th October 2017