Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

In passing:

  • our Chief Justice has appealed the “superficial” judgement against his pro-Israeli utterances (yawn).
  • Bowmans have withdrawn from a forensic probe into the affairs of the SSA as it found that agency was not co-operating. One is tempted to ask what was expected and who would take this on next?
  • 13 years after the event, the JSE has found Judge Hlope guilty of gross misconduct – and I gather that this may not be the end of the saga. Justice delayed…

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Oddball lawyers; friends of mine, whom one might rightly hold as lustful, drunkards, and pub fighters but whom I would rather have at my back then any dominee I can think of, flighted a query when Nummawan first crossed swords with Zondo which is now echoed to some extent in a De Rebus article (http://www.derebus.org.za/incorrect-legal-standard-applied-zuma-and-the-zondo-commission/ ). To have our Constitutional Court dealing with punishment for non-attendance at a hearing, and then to reserve judgement (as if time were needed to think about this) is strange. Stranger still are reports which hold that that worthy was asked to make presentations of how he should be punished if found guilty. One is tempted to assume that a guilty finding is on the cards – asking the accused how he should be punished, suggests that some are indeed more equal than others.

Whilst on this topic: reports hold that MK has fortified Nummawan’s compound against would-be arrestors. I cannot wait for this confrontation – imagine our highest court ordering an arrest which is sought to be thwarted by a bunch of would-be soldiers.

Cases:

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On a less serious note: acrimonious differences leading to litigation are to be avoided as, when the anger fades, the litigant may well be embroiled in a case which he no longer wishes to fight, and which has cost a lot of money. I had a partner once who, when faced with such a dilemma, demanded as deposit of the same sum that was reputedly due. He sat on the matter for six months, reported that he had well and truly trounced the scoundrel, and repaid the full deposit. Not quite ethical, but everybody was happy.

Economy

The NUM wants a wage increase of some 68% for the lowest paid miners, up to a minimum wage of R15K per month, with an average of between 15 – 20% for the others. The rationale is said to be the high profit currently made by mining houses: it is true that the mining industry weathered the CV 19 storm better than other sectors, but this demand seems optimistic?

In the same vein, is pressure from the civil service of inflation +4% which would take their salaries to an 8% increase. It will be interesting to see whether the state has the gumption to stick to its budget in the face of these demands; personally, I would be surprised. Budgets here mean little.

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The FNB/BER Construction Index is up slightly but it appears that the infrastructure development paralysis, following on state promises, is still with us. True, big project tenders are coming out, but the Fiscus is already overspending, and one wonders whether money for these will remain.

CESA reported a 17% across-the-board disinvestment in our economy last year with the construction industry showing a contraction of 18%, whilst residential and non-residential industry investment contracted by 20.9% and 25.3% respectively.

Interestingly, the report holds that some 29% of the industry turnover was subcontracted to black owned enterprises.

Business 

S&P’s Misery Index (the sum of one’s rate of employment and inflation): unsurprisingly South Africa was ranked 33rd, bettering Zambia at 25, hands down…

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Interesting news is that Absa has closed Dr Survé’s accounts, saying that Sekunjalo presented “intolerable reputational, commercial, and legal risks”. Does anyone know who its current bankers are?

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Computer literacy and the ability to program/code is a passport to work: Solidariteit expressed its concern that the lack of data centra at schools’ disadvantages children. Just so.

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An interesting development was an interview with the UIF’s representative (Allan Ragavaloo) who held that using a professional to claim UIF is illegal because the act says that you cannot use a third party to lodge an application. http://702.co.za/articles/413216/uif-red-tape-i-m-back-at-work-and-still-haven-t-been-paid-out-maternity-claim

Listen to the video—about 3/5ths through.

Property

Dysfunctional municipalities and resultant disputed rates accounts are becoming common. Our city fathers have now offered defaulters a 25% capital discount and the write-off of interest if they pay now. Pragmatic, but hardly fair to those who do pay? At the same time, the state runs regular advertisements calling on us to be good citizens and pay our rates to ensure that things keep working. They go further still: they ask that we stand up and clean our streets. They then attempt to press convicts into this service but, alas, such community service infringes on the rights of those who are supposed to do this work but doesn’t. Nuts.

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TPN says that the residential rental market is on the mend. Tenants at the low-end are still distressed, with only 65% in good standing, whilst the average is up to 80%. Mid-level residential properties reflect some 83% of tenants in good standing.

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Seef says that high-end properties are still discounted, and which has attracted foreign buyers – predominantly US, UAE, German, and UK buyers.

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A note in the PropertyProfessional, on the high drop-out rate of intern agents, attracted my attention as it contained a (dated) cross-reference to a bête noire of mine: a call for the simplification of qualifications for transformation – https://propertyprofessional.co.za/2020/12/03/simplify-estate-agent-qualifications-for-transformation/.

Attorneys went much the same route: as time passed it was thought to be desirable to raise standards of practice and the bar for admission. Then came the call, led by our then Chief Justice Mr Chaskalson, for men in the trenches. The then academic requirements were watered down, and to avoid embarrassment, the resultant undergraduate degree was named similarly to what was previously a postgraduate degree. The result was certainly successful in that it made admission to the profession easier/cheaper, but I have reservations about the effect of the dragons’ teeth sowed by this. I cannot speak for the latest crop of attorneys, but can say that our profession went through a phase where those who presented themselves for training, with excellent pass marks, were certainly not up to scratch. Does one really that desperately need more underprivileged entrants into an industry which routinely works with probably the biggest asset held by any working-class person – if they are not properly trained? Debatable.

Quotables

Watching the ANC grapple with rationality is like watching a child with a thesaurus.

Van Onselin

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The ANC is more important than the constitution.

Zuma

Comment

The quote above is intentionally chosen as our politicians appear to have little philosophical grasp of the policies that they are engaged in or, even more disturbingly, the ability to debate, to counter-attack and to change and argue. Populism reigns. I chanced on an old debate (1974) between BJ Vorster and William Buckley; the latter questioning the former on what was even then an indefensible position. Do spend 30 minutes listening to this – both came prepared, and Buckley leads one to conclusions without having to sledge-hammer a point. Both did not raise their voices once – sometimes I do long for the good old days…  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVWh01yCoIQ

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We carry on about corruption and self-interest, fully expecting our politicians to formulate and build an ideal society which will benefit all. Diamond in his Pulitzer-prize-winning Guns, Germs & Steel (1997) expresses it thus: the noble and selfish functions in society are inextricably linked; at best such do good by providing expensive services impossible to contract for on an individual basis. At worst they function unabashedly as kleptocrats, transferring wealth from commoners to upper classes. He asks the question why commoners tolerate the transfer of the fruits of their labour to kleptocrats? He gives four answers; two of them are: make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received in popular ways and construct an ideology justifying kleptocracy. Capish?

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Lastly, a News24 headline reported on a tax-racket in which diplomats buy alcohol at duty free retailers and sell it locally cheating SARS of an estimated R100m per month! Diplomats from Rwanda, Lesotho, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, and Burundi are reportedly involved in the scam. One can understand this being done on a bottle-by-bottle basis but R100m in just taxes – now that’s going! 

Lighten up

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

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You don’t need a parachute to go skydiving. You need a parachute to go skydiving twice.

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Your secret is safe with me – and my best friend.

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Any married man should forget his mistakes, there’s no use in two people remembering the same thing.

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Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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