Friday, 10 November 2017


The JSE reached 60 589 on Tuesday and breaching a level with four zeros in it (60 000) gave everyone something to write about in a market that is very hard to explain. The fact is that year on year growth in earnings of the main non-mining sector shares is almost zero. In simple terms the average business is making about the same amount of money as a year ago. Yet rents, costs and wages are all rising. The outcome is less fun. Unless one is on a gravy train of course.
News broke of yet another huge data leak. This one was dubbed The Paradise Papers because it originated from a tax consultancy firm located somewhere exotic and with imperfect IT security. Frankly these leaks are getting pretty boring and commonplace. There is just one theme. People everywhere mostly resent paying tax and devote much time, energy and money to avoid doing so. The largely left-leaning media journos find this attitude an affront to civilisation and deem it worth splashing all over their pages and websites. As the old saying had it: Never do anything that you would not want to read about next month on the back page of the (South African) Sunday Times.  Today that warning extends to not recording your dodgy doings on a computer which is connected to the internet. This of course is virtually impossible and inevitably leaks will happen.
The huge furore which overtook the Paradise Papers story was about the publication of a book which claims there is evidence that Number One himself is also not a keen or compliant tax payer. Which means he’s just like the rest of us except on a grander scale with a generous serving of hypocrisy
Author Jacques Pauw’s tell-it-all book is a welcome relief from the stultifying petty squabbling that’s taking place ahead of the ANC’s conference to find a successor to JZ. If the conference is held at all and if it produces a victor not to the Big Man’s liking, there could well be some serious court-room shouting and the legal fraternity will be on the phone to their architects to order further lavish office extensions. Further reasons to resent paying tax.
A feature of inquiries conducted by some external parties into alleged naughtiness at state entities is the clinical disinterest shown by the investigators for anything they deem to be outside of their terms of reference. Not for your average forensic lawyer or accountant to show the slightest curiosity about something odd on the page opposite the one they have been tasked to read. It’s like stepping over a dead body on the way to see if the toilet’s blocked. And then reporting to the client only that a better grade of paper will solve the problem. Sticklers for process they are. Move along folks. Nothing to see here. What dead body? In fact, charge more for having to look away.
In the meantime, state and provincial education departments are working up a piece of legislation which will surely even further trash what little hope remains for the nation’s school pupils. The government has decided that parents and governing bodies are not competent to choose new principals and that such appointments will in future be made by bureaucrats at head office. Undoubtedly this process will be used to further the government’s race preferment policy and reward party lackeys. It will not necessarily appoint competent school principals. This centralisation of decision making is a calamity.
These four back-to-back outbound tests for the ‘bokke are brutal. The sole bright spot is that they meet Ireland, the All Black slayers, at the start of their tour tomorrow. The rumour that team management have chartered a flying ambulance to remove injured players from Europe and deliver fit ones may not be true but let’s hope that for the survivors it will indeed be a merry Christmas with some nice scalps hanging in the trophy cupboard.
The tide will now be out until mid-December since it time for me to go to the bush.
James Greener
Friday 10th November 2017