Friday, 13 July 2018


It doesn’t help the cause of the rabid Trump haters in Europe who have gathered to protest his presence on that side of the “pond” to have pictures of their own supremo EU President Jean-Claude Juncker badly under the influence of what his aides insist is back pain but looks a lot like alcohol. Also under the influence of something, are the markets which are mostly directionless. Most of us have scant appreciation of just how all-powerful the rise of robot-driven decision-making and trading has become.  The long-anticipated price corrections may these days perhaps be worked out in tens of thousands of transactions instead of a heart-stopping plunge or two.
Any hopes that billionaire and now president Cyril has a deep understanding of how business works will have been dashed this week when he was reported to have asked various private sectors to “absorb” the massive fuel price increases and not pass them on to consumers (and voters). There is still a week left of the grace period the president asked for before revealing his master plan to deal with these problems, but so far, this lame idea is unexciting. So too is the plan to tinker with the list of food items that are VAT exempt. Frustratingly, no one in power will acknowledge the glaring evidence that almost every public employee who has the even the tiniest opportunity to steal public money has managed to avoid the temptation to do so. There is considerable match between the amount of money misspent and misappropriated and the funds that are needed to rescue the national infrastructure and institutions. Absent dishonesty and greed and after selling off assets that should not be owned by the state, there is undoubtedly sufficient wealth to run the country sensibly. There are also considerable but grievously misused organisational skills in the nation as demonstrated by the chillingly effective farm murders, the military precision cash-in-transit robberies and the cigarette smuggling networks.
The joke of the week was the headline that SAA was seeking an “equity partner”. A greater misuse of these last two words would be difficult to find. The word equity implies that there could be a return on an investment. And the word partner implies that the investor should participate in running the operation. Assuredly neither is going to happen. What SAA is actually looking for is a Fairy Godmother with a full purse and a poor memory. What SAA needs is rapid euthanasia and letters to all taxpayers and other creditors thanking us for our support and regretting that we won’t be seeing our money back ever.
One of the few government services that we actually need is the one that can issue us with passports. With this duty comes the obligation that the service be stationed at the many border crossing points to monitor who is coming and going. Reportedly they are not too successful with this task because there are numerous informal crossing points – African rivers are rarely full enough to discourage waders! Governments, however, also think it is important to keep a record of everyone within their borders whether they want to travel abroad or not and so Home Affairs (a rather coy and cosy name) also attempts to keep a register of births, deaths and marriages – a task that is visibly crumbling these days under the weight of massive population growth. Many of us have tales about 3-hour queues and the shrugged response that the “computer was out-of-order” just to obtain a vital  document from Home Affairs. So the announcements by the dangerously clueless and narcissistic minister Gigaba that this ministry under his care was firstly 8000 people understaffed and secondly was going to go “paperless” are rather confusing. Should we be alarmed or delighted?
The good thing about Sunday’s World Cup Final match is that we will get to see the rather comely Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in the VIP box instead of British Prime Minister Theresa May. The latter lady would not be in the best of moods having been told off by the visiting Donald Trump for not obeying his instructions on how to take the nation out of the EU. Meanwhile in Galle, if the Proteas received any instructions on how to play spin bowling it certainly didn’t sink in.
James Greener
Friday 13th July 2018