Thursday, 29 March 2018


Unusually, Tidemarks’ forecast of a cut in the repo rate turned out to be correct. Just as SARS adds 100 basis points to the VAT rate, the Reserve Bank has knocked 25 basis points off the cost of money. Unfortunately, the beneficial offset of these two actions will be vanishingly small for most of us. But it will be paraded vigorously as evidence that SA is now well on the way to ending the economic hardship of the recent past and that serious investing can now resume. After all, even one of those nasty ratings agencies changed their outlook on South Africa from “negative” to “stable”.

Moody’s are clearly impressed by the spirit of cleansing and revelation supposedly now sweeping through the nation’s state-owned enterprises. This is uncovering worms in places where there were not thought even to be cans. It’s going to be a long time before anyone will be able to trust a set of financial statements no matter who produced or audited them. But thank you anyway Moody’s. We need all the help we can get.
It has just emerged that the delegates at the ANC conference last year resolved that “Free Wi-Fi (connection to the internet) must be provided to communities in both metropolitan and rural areas, and to all public schools, clinics and libraries”. This would be a very good idea but is not the whole story. Reportedly, due to non-payment of its subscription to the company that publishes an on-line law library, employees of the Department of Justice employees can’t look stuff up. Oops.
As the news comes in that ex-president Zuma has been summoned to court to answer the now pretty ancient 783 charges of funny money, the rather special South African responses are being made. All sorts of organisations are calling on their members to ensure that they too will pitch up at the court to support their man. Yet again down town Durban will probably become impassable as the hordes, without anything else to do, will throng the High Court.
A columnist named Julie Frederikse has suggested that everyone over 70 should be disenfranchised. Her dubious contention is that these old-folk are no longer concerned about the future of society and tend to focus more on protecting their own interests than on issues affecting future generations. Its hard to heap enough scorn on this idea save for the corollary to not having a vote must be to have one’s tax number cancelled. And of course, it also means that no one over 70 can stand for public office. Hey! This is starting to sound attractive.
Once again the consequences of taking advantage of  all the lovely features of keeping in touch  and informed  via the internet  have been disclosed. Very simply, nothing that resides on any computer can be considered private and confidential. All those handy and “free” services that we use, make their living from selling what they can find out about us when we tap into their products. So the news that one of the giants in that business, Facebook, had been the source of information used by many of the big political campaigns of recent times should not surprise or concern anyone unless they would like to start paying for every photograph of their hamburger or kitten they send to “friends”.
Tiangong-1 is the name of a now useless space ship that belongs to China. Very shortly it is going to fall out of the sky and because it is so large, parts of it will probably survive the re-entry burn-up and land back on earth. Hopefully not on anyone. However, this event pretty much defines the word “uncontrolled” and all we can do is marvel at the fancy statistical calculations showing how small is the probability of being hit by a piece of very hot Chinese scrap. Various websites are offering “virtual telescope” observation of the doomed satellite. But remember if you use one don’t be surprised to receive an advertisement for hard hats very shortly.
Amongst all the welter of information, suspicions and abuse the really interesting thing to emerge from the ball tampering incident is that Cricket Australia has since 2013 had an Integrity Unit. And apparently the ICC has one as well. Come on! Really? And what have they been doing to earn their money?
James Greener
Maundy Thursday. 2018