Friday, 16 February 2018


As the popular saying has it. “My, but that escalated quickly!” JZ has gone. Arrests have been made. Dodgy characters have vanished. And all on Valentine’s Day, while the rest of us were dealing in roses and chocolates and basking in a spirit of love and tenderness. A president who, if nothing else, has just one wife is a great improvement and the markets are enjoying a burst of exuberant optimism. It’s really unkind to suggest that JZ’s rather sudden departure long before the time frame he seemed to have in mind only last week has anything to do with his notorious inability to count.
President Ramaphosa already has a packed diary and a huge task ahead of him doing what the Americans have termed “draining the swamp.” Most of us believe we can identify the ministers and officials who ought to get an immediate and large boot. However, Cyril will have to be careful about how many enemies he can afford to make. Further, finding competent replacements will not be simple. Anyway, just as soon as he makes a start, there will be a nice government contract out there to supply new framed portraits of the top guys for thousands of government offices. Apparently civil servants need the beady eyes of their superiors peering down at them from the wall in order to carry out their job of being servile and civil.
It’s surely too late for the new man to have any influence on the contents of the Budget due to be delivered on Thursday. The finances of the state are so dire that drastic measures are needed immediately and there’s probably scant wiggle room even for someone who understands finance.  It will take several years of prudent and incorrupt presidency to get matters back under control. The current Minister of Finance is either so clueless about the situation or resigned to being fired soon that he is comfortable whiling away the long boring hours in parliament playing computer games.
Anyone who takes a look at the motoring supplement of the newspaper must surely be struck by the fact that there are about 1700 new car models on offer in SA. And a very high proportion of these, based on price alone, are undeniably in the super luxury class. There are nearly 40 different models of Porsche, 14 Maseratis, 13 Bentleys, 9 Aston Martins, 9 Rolls Royces and 8 Lamborghini for the well-heeled to consider. Not to mention the literally dozens of Mercedes, BMW and Audi models available. Obviously, the world’s car manufacturers have pegged SA as a hot target market for wheels that mere wage earners can never even think of.   Juxtaposing these observations with the many guilt-inducing measures of just how desperate and poor most South Africans are, leaves one wondering about the depth of the pool of ill-gotten gains.
Frankly the compromise reached by the Olympic high-ups to permit sportsmen and women from Russia to compete in the Winter Games provided none actually says they are Russian, is hypocrisy of the highest order. Why was this ruse not used 40 years ago when South African athletes achieved Olympic qualifying standards but were banned from attending because the world wanted to “punish” the government?
So far, the winner by a country mile for the noisiest winter sport is women’s curling. Two teams of 4 girls on a rink in a hall with 4 rinks adds up to bedlam. Can all that shouting really alter the course of a large lump of stone sliding majestically over the ice? And the Super 15 season opens with that allegiance-testing match between the Lions and the Sharks. Usual compromise: Lions cap, Sharks shirt and a nice bottle of wine for the host. Did someone mention cricket?
James Greener
Friday 16th February 2018