Friday, 20 July 2018


The word debacle is far too mild a descriptor for the deepening swamps that are growing around VBS and Steinhof just to name the two headline items of the moment. More and more unexpected names and institutions are being mentioned. The program of weakening reasonably trustworthy institutions by sending in utterly corrupt comrades to control and loot them was incredibly successful. But then it wasn’t just the usual suspects who piled in to help themselves. Previously respectable private sector professions and businesses realised that the regulators were not paying attention or in most cases not even at their desks, and so behaved rather badly. The unsupervised flows of public money washed away scruples and integrity as the chances of being punished, even if caught, vanished.
June’s inflation figure of 4.6%pa was higher than most experts guessed but clearly way below the experience of all the protestors who have been burning trucks, libraries and other useful stuff. Their actions are savage and disappointing but their dissatisfaction with the situation is intense and understandable. Even Reserve Bank Governor Kganyago is sufficiently sceptical to have left the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%. This “price of money” indicator is currently probably not the most important factor in the minds of those trying to make a living in the boring old way of satisfying customer’s needs for goods and services. Now that our proudly Marxist government has assigned to itself the role of engine for growth it is very poor at paying bills and honouring contracts for big and valuable infrastructural projects. Instead it is rewarding buddies and cadres just for being there. How else do you understand the sizable public notice in a major newspaper owned by a chum giving notice that Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Public Works had let 10.75square meters for use as a tuck shop in a hospital in Ladysmith?
President Cyril had to share a platform and a policy with old Number One on Wednesday, presumably because it was Nelson Mandela’s birthday.  Reportedly they both endorsed the notion that confiscating property from citizens would unleash enormous growth as the hitherto landless masses would then be able to surge into profitable farming ventures. That there is not a scrap of evidence pointing either to unfulfilled demand for land suitable for commercial farming nor that central planning of such ventures is ever successful, obviously troubled neither speaker. It should however trouble those waiting for our new leader to show real steps towards his promised “New Dawn” and a firm and decisive rejection of the man his own party fired.
Meanwhile over on the other side of the country the MeerKAT, a multi-million rand radio telescope, began working pretty much on time and within budget. The fellows published an image of the centre of our galaxy taken with this fancy new device. This caused a scramble as everyone tried to understand how dozens of “satellite dishes” could be called a telescope. Especially as no photograph of a wild-haired astronomer peering down a tube was released by the operators. Together with the nearby SALT optical telescope this patch of the Karroo is quietly becoming a success story we so desperately need. Rather like 7s rugby and ….. No well, never mind.
It’s rather fun to speculate what Mr Errol Present, an  ANC head office employee, filled in on his leave form when taking days off to go and blow up and rob the cash-in-transit trucks. Did he say he had a dentist appointment or taking the children for an outing or did he tell the truth and say he was augmenting his salary with a second job? He has been fired, but undoubtedly lawyers are already preparing the case for wrongful dismissal and reinstatement.
The real reason that Airbus have developed that very big and cute whale-faced transport aircraft named the Beluga XL, is to ensure that cadres can in future accompany their money on the flight to Dubai.
I shall not be able to write Tidemarks for the next few weeks (the plumbing in my heart needs repair) but rest assured I shall not stop looking for follies and foolishness on which to heap scorn and offer valuable advice just as soon as I get back to my keyboard.
James Greener
Friday 20th July 2018