Friday, 15 December 2017


It was very touching how many readers noticed that Tidemarks hadn’t appeared for a few weeks and sent solicitous emails. Thank you for your concern but the hiatus was simply because I was away on 4 successive Fridays. And so, today’s problem is what to leave out. The craziness has been rife these past few weeks and includes a political crescendo and a business fiasco. Somehow these two have become enmeshed.
This weekend the innumerate, illiterate and morally deficient but genial and charismatic dancing JZ ought to be relinquishing the presidency of the ruling party. The process of choosing a new leader of the ANC is complicated. Colourful graphics have been published detailing the bone-achingly correct and proper democratic steps that are required to ensure that the victor is truly the party members’ top pick. Unfortunately, not only does the process drag on but it is open to abuse and doesn’t take into account the passions that have been aroused by the opportunity to board the gravy train and to defenestrate those already seated. The new leader of the party will almost certainly become the new President of the country when Number One retires in 2019. With a prize this large the violence has included many assassinations, several chair slinging contests, simple fisticuffs and all too often expensive shouting matches in court. Hapless judges caught between a rule book and a conference start date have been dragged on to their benches to be droned at by over-paid counsel about infraction of process.
Those citizens who are not members of the ANC can merely watch in terror as the lacklustre candidates are trotted out for inspection. Perhaps the least appealing candidate is JZ’s ex-wife, handily tagged as NDZ (look it up) who has used the campaign to launch an offensive attack on all whites who she claims have been stealing since they first arrived on the southern tip almost 400 years ago.
While manifestly wrong she was almost immediately presented with a fine example of her assertions when the (white male) CEO of Steinhof, the listed industrial behemoth, slipped out of his office leaving a note of apology for any inconvenience caused and admitting that the soon to be released financial statements didn’t quite add up. Although there are a few investment analysts who now claim to have been worried about the company, most completely missed this very large fraud. As this writer has often remarked, company announcements are deliberately framed to conceal and obscure since no one needs the tax man or the competitors to learn too much. As for shareholders and staff, they are just collateral damage.
The “white monopoly capital” camp are squirming in embarrassment and anger not to mention smarting over the substantial sums that have been written off portfolio valuations, including the state’s own employee fund. This has spurred the regulators to gallop into an investigation and has raised enough dust to allow NDZ to slink away, so far unscathed by charges of racism or worse.
Hard on the heels of the news that SA women are the globe’s greatest binge drinkers and SA children are the worlds worst readers, comes the news that we rank first for school bullying. What a comedown after leading the world in areas such as share trading settlement and audit standards and compliance.
Many years ago, when all the stockbrokers had offices in the same building in Diagonal Street, listening carefully in the lifts used to be a great source of information. Further, the maxim was that when the secretaries and messengers started to talk about a share it was time to get out. Today’s version of that must be when the talk on the treadmills in the gym is about Bitcoin, the mania might be about to pop. The truth is that very very few people understand the distributed apps and block-chain structures that underlie these so-called crypto currencies. And even fewer have any idea how to value them. The inherent and deliberate so-called “censorship-free” nature of these developments is appealing and will in due course gain appreciation and traction. In the meantime, Caveat Emptor!
Equally byzantine is the procedure for firing a ‘bok coach (or an Eskom boss)
James Greener
Friday 15th December 2017