Friday, 23 March 2018


However bad Tax Commissioner Tom Moyane had been at his job did he really deserve to have the presidential letter which suspended him released to the media? It was pretty blunt and damming and not something you’d like your children to read about you. But then take a look at the very simple monthly data releases of how much money SARS has been collecting of late and it’s clear that the fellow has not been keeping a firm grip on his departmental duties. Annual growth in tax revenue is running at an average of just 4.5%pa, down from over 11%pa two years ago. Of course, this is not all Tom’s fault. His bosses in Cabinet have been steadily crushing the life out of the nation’s productive economy and there just isn’t the same amount of value sloshing about that can be purloined by any tax man. And this doesn’t even mention the popular assertion that so called “tax morality” (another oxymoron?)  is on the wane.
The fiscal year comes to an end in a week’s time and the National Treasury’s data release a month later is a popular time for analysis and jaw flapping. Unless an intense commitment to austerity has flooded the public service this month, it seems certain that government expenditure in Fiscal 2018 will be a record setting 19% greater than income. Not only are the socialist policy chickens coming home to roost, some have already dropped off the perch.  And the saddest part of it all is that we have little to show for all this money. More people than ever are on the social grant lists. The ones who do notionally work for the taxpayer are largely dispirited, uninterested and ineffective.
And the nauseating do-goodery ratchets up with yet more legislation about smoking, drinking and lending money all of which will make people’s lives harder and less fun. Undoubtedly there are dangers everywhere in life but the only way to help people cope with them is through knowledge and education that informs and supports personal responsibility and choice. Again, we ask why booze outlets need to be at least 500m distant from churches and schools. Insisting that smokers satisfy their habit out of sight of every other living soul is silly. Rather than prowling the land with tape measures and smoke detectors government should focus on offering everyone the educational opportunities to be able to do the sums and read the warnings for themselves.  In the meantime, the costly multi-coloured self-congratulatory booklet from SANRAL – the guardians of our (really very good) national road system – barely mentions the terrible road accidents that claim dozens of lives each week. These together with the appallingly savage murderous attacks on farmers are the tasks that need urgent and meaningful state intervention. Both South Africans and foreigners are becoming increasingly scared by the growing threat of violent death in this beautiful land. Not by seeing a bottle store from a school gate or a smoker in the street.
It’s really quite touching. A Johannesburg court ruled that the Guptas must bring their nice sleek jet plane back to Lanseria and then hand over the keys until one or two little matters are solved. Like money owing. Surely the Guptas by now have all but erased South Africa from their diaries and memories. They will have blocked all calls from country code 27, obtained new email addresses and are now looking for another corrupt and tin-pot regime to infiltrate. Friends, creditors, employees and anyone who believed that enjoyed a special relationship with these confidence tricksters must all becoming quickly aware that they were merely supporting cast members in a Bollywood thriller set in South Africa. The sole task remaining from this shameful and embarrassing hijacking of our country is the research and revelation of what happened. Oh, and paying for JZ’s legal team.
It’s Boat Race weekend. Formula 1 season starts with the cars now dolled up with a so called  “halo”, which is an ominously named device further to protect drivers from the dangers they accepted when they decided to try and make very large sums of money.  And Test cricket in Newlands where the new technique is to bring the sports administrators into play in order to deal with the opponents. The Six Nations matches in Europe last weekend and the performance of the NZ sides in the Super 15 suggest that it may be a difficult year for South African rugby supporters.
James Greener
Friday 23rd Match 2018