Don Quijote

Economic review – There are a number of signals that our economy is picking up. One of them, significant for the likes of I, is a report from Loos that, on a scale of 10, our housing sales activity rating rose to 6.18 points in the 1st quarter; up from a multi-year low in the previous quarter.

Loos says that this correlates with the Reserve Bank’s leading business cycle indicator and represents a significant improvement in our general business sentiment.

In the same vein is a BankServAfrica report of a record rise in the BETI index and a report that retail sales are up by 3.1% year-on-year for January.

Business

Much was said about the recent signing of  power purchase agreements between Eskom and a handful of independent renewable energy power suppliers. One cannot, however, help but wonder whether the push against corruption (think kickbacks on a nuclear plan) and resistance against burning fossil fuel, did not irrationally obscure the benefits of nuclear power. Whatever one says, nuclear power probably pollutes less and is a more constant source of power than any other.

In the case Truworths v The Minister of Trade and Industry (http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2018/41.html) the Cape Town High Court found that the criteria of affordability of credit, set in regulation 24 of the National Credit Act, being rigid and not as flexible as might be required, was invalid insofar as it required bank statements of applicants. Essentially, the court found that requiring the poor, who might not have bank accounts, to submit bank statements, was unreasonable as it excluded them from credit, and therefore should be set aside.

By now the expected stand off (later this year) between the government and public sector unions for wage increases is old hat. The fact is that-

  • the lower echelons of our public service are probably underpaid whilst I have little doubt that the upper echelons, as a group, are most certainly overpaid; and
  • the primary problem is the vast chasm between payment of those at the bottom end of the scale and those at the top.

Those who govern us had undertaken to reduce the South African gini coefficient (which, incidentally, has improved from 0.7 to 0.68) but our state’s unwillingness to address above issues,  simply perpetuates the problems created by the disparity of income in South Africa.

China has become a major producer of innovative technology and has become the 2nd biggest source of international patent applications.

A recent note on binary thinking and argumentative discussion may be found at https://www.fs.blog/2018/03/margaret-heffernan/

Worth a listen.

Section 12J of the Income Tax Act provides for substantial tax relief for both individuals and corporate investment in a franchise. If this interests you, ask me for a copy of the relevant article.

Property

Despite the improving South African economic outlook, our average house price growth has declined fairly dramatically to 2.6% in the 1st quarter, down from 5% in the quarter before. I have little doubt that this is to a large extent attributable to a slowdown in the Western Cape (the prime semigration destination in South Africa)  to 1.5% in the 1st quarter of this year. The slowdown must be attributable to the water issues in that area.

Business Insider reports that 7.4% of homes sold in South Africa in the 1st quarter of this year were sold as precursor to emigration. Interestingly, fewer persons selling wealthy homes emigrated than poorer persons; unfortunately no explanation was given for this.

Who can forget the lyrics in Fiddler on the Roof and, in particular, the song on Tradition. A recent report says that just 8% of the agricultural land in KZN is owned by women; as opposed to 71% which is male owned. This is despite there being more female-headed households then mail-headed household in this area. Redistribution is undeniably much more complex than handing over land to groups who were historically denied this. Part of the problem can probably be attributed to traditional androcentrism.

It has long been the practice of municipalities to issue rates certificates for periods in excess of 60 days in advance. The Chief Registrar has, in CRC 2/18, canned this practice. If a rates certificate is lodged it will be valid for 60 days from its issue. No shorter and no longer.

Whilst on the topic of circulars: the KZN Registrar’s Circular 2/18 makes provision that conditions, incorrectly brought forward in the early days of the latter part of sectional title conveyancing, may simply be omitted from new titles.

One cannot place a reserve price on a property where it is sold in execution. I was unable to find the reported on case, but it was said to be ex the High Court in Pretoria.

Practice

A download is available for the practitioner’s guide conveyancing and notarial practice:

https://issuu.com/isikhovapublishing/docs/lead_sa_part_1/190

A very interesting development is a report by the Times that the Road Accident Fund is planning to lease R60m of furniture in order to avoid attachments by attorneys acting on behalf of clients who have not been paid their dues by the fund. The leasing option will cost much more, but will enable the fund to manage attachments. Eish…this presupposes that the fund knows that it cannot pay claims and will, rather than address the issues, take steps to avoid enforcement against it.

Cases

Water discharge on to a lower property 

A long-held tenet of our neighbour law is that the owner of a property is obliged to accept the water discharge from that of a property situated above it, provided that the water is not concentrated in that discharge. A recent case in the Supreme Court of Appeal, elaborated on this by saying that such concentration could be allowed, if legislation allows therefor. This often happens in that the local authority prescribes stormwater drainage channels and the like as part of a development.

http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZASCA/2018/51.html

Transfer duty

Tranfer Duty cases are rare: Two purchasers bought a property, one taking the right to inhabit only (the habitatio) and the other what was left thereof, generally referred to as the bare dominium. Each filled in a separate transfer duty declaration whilst the seller filled in a single transfer duty declaration. If successful the purchasers would jointly be taxed at a substantially lower rate of transfer duty than they would be taxed on, if this were one transaction. The court sought to establish whether the two purchasers acquired in an integral transaction; it found that, inasmuch as the parties had jointly and severally undertaken to pay the purchase price and other technical reasons, that the price could not be split and a single transfer duty declaration/receipt would have to be issued. Interesting try, but hardly worth the costs of a High Court application?

http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2018/9.html

Comment

Much was made of the Reserve Bank suspending VBS Mutual Bank, including allegations that this was anti-black et cetera. The latest news holds that a material portion of the deposits at this bank cannot be verified. If this is true the Reserve Bank may well have saved the bacon of a number of municipalities: possibly an apology, even thanks, might be proper.

Recently a child was run over by a car in Chatsworth. This led to the crowd,  that had gathered at the scene,  removing boats, belonging to a nearby resident, burning them and stoning cars. Irrational but understandable, given that seemingly only violence, as a form of protest, attracts attention. This slide in the efficacy and consequently the mode of protest is to be laid at the door of politicians who don’t listen to their constituency; which, in turn, is attributable to our voting system.

Most Natalians (if I may use the old term) are aware of the indenture system which had brought a great many Indians to the then Natal. I had always assumed this be a system visited by the British upon Indians only. I was given a copy of Ferguson’s Empire for Christmas. Ferguson explains that some 800,000 Englishmen were imported into the Caribbean as cane estate labourers by their countrymen on an indenture system. In fact, when the British ran out of takers owing to the high death rates brought about by tropical disease, slavery was adopted to keep those highly profitable estates going. The British didn’t discriminate; it was just what went down in those days.

Inciting another to a crime is punishable. Yet the incitement by BLF and EFF leaders to “re-occupy” land, often accompanied by violence, is ignored. One suspects that the reason for this is that our political mainstream condones the sentiments behind such actions. Despite efforts to address our housing backlog, it is said that some 2.1 million units need to be built to accommodate all. If we were able to provide housing for all, would land repossession be the issue that it has become?

A political commentator recently described the EFF as an authoritarian populist and fascist organisation. Few of us really understand what fascism means and it may behove us to look this up again.

I confess to having revelled in the ANC’s discomfort surrounding supporting Mr Zuma in his court appearances. If that organisation does not support Mr Zuma it may well lose a substantial following in KZN. If it does support him and that worthy is found guilty of the charges, the ANC might find itself in the position of having supported criminality in its own ranks. Having said this, the DA has a similar problem with Ms De Lille. Both deserved.

Lighten up

On growing old:

An eighty-year old gent is having his annual check-up.

The doctor listens to his chest with a stethoscope.

“You have a serious heart murmur: do you smoke?”

No.

Do you drink to excess?

No.

Do you have a sex life?

Yes, I do.

Well I’m afraid you’re going to have to cut that activity by half.

Which half – the looking or the thinking?

Ex the Idler

 

My principal was an almost-practising Orthodox Jew: I have held it against him since.

  • Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They’re worth it.
  • Why don’t Jewish mothers drink? Alcohol interferes with their suffering.
  • Why are Jewish men circumcised? Because Jewish women don’t like anything that isn’t 20% off.

 

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Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys

 

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