Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

News:

  • A news24 article reported that our Chief Justice had produced a pre-selected list of judges whom he believed should be shortlisted for the Concourt. This is going to be fun.
  • I have little doubt that most of my colleagues would have some (um) reservations about the conduct of Mr Zuma’s legal team. Perhaps they also deserve sympathy: a recent refrain is that Mr Zuma was badly advised and, furthermore, they have Mr Niehaus on their side. A poisoned chalice?

Hard news:

  • For a snippet on non-disclosure agreements: https://www.mondaq.com/southafrica/patent/1076798/non-disclosure-agreement-and-loss-of-ip-rights?
  • Pepuda: to improve substantive equality (whatever this means) the Pepuda Amendment Bill redefines discrimination and legislates that intent will not be a requirement for guilt. Eina!
  • Another bill seeks to establish to new Courts – a Land Court and a Land Court of Appeal. The intent is to speed up land reform and its status will be like that of the High Court. An innovation is that an emphasis is placed on ADR, and the Judge President may decide whether a case should be resolved through ADR or court.
  • The power of the state to determine the fees that may be charged locally, amounts to an arbitrary deprivation of property and infringes the Constitution. http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZASCA/2021/101.html
  • PIE and ESTA: can a tenant rely on the grant of an oral right of habitatio given by a previous owner to prevent eviction? Possibly: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZASCA/2021/100.html

Economy

Reform? Us? Those who govern us are not listening: the World Bank says that SA’s medium-term growth outlook is too low to significantly improve socioeconomic conditions and reduce unemployment: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/economy/2021-07-12-world-bank-outlines-plan-for-sa-to-speed-up-reforms/

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Most economists predict that our repo rate will probably be held, as it stands, this year.

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India has proposed a two-child policy in two of its most populous states. The incentive is the removal of government subsidies if citizens don’t comply.

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China’s economy rebounded strongly after last years Covid-induced drop. This rebound is softening sooner than expected and, is predicted to increase disinflation pressures – especially a drop in demand for industrial metals and capital goods. The People’s Bank of China has attempted to counter this trend by reducing the amount of cash, most banks must hold in reserve, to boost lending.

Whilst on China – China lends a friendly helping financial hand, especially in Africa. Montenegro is now trying to extract itself from the debt incurred, by it borrowing from China, for road construction – take a look: https://www.voanews.com/europe/montenegro-close-deal-lifting-chinese-debt-burden-minister

The question is who Africans will borrow from?

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So, after witnessing the flaccid response, by those who govern us, to the most serious challenge to government, seen in South Africa in my lifetime, what should an investor do? Diversify: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/in-depth/psg-wealth/diversification-key-in-future-proofing-investment-portfolios/

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The rioting, that wracked our province, will probably result in many of the smaller and medium -sized businesses affected, not reopening. It appears that some 70% of these are black-owned.

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Finally, a wobble in the Moon’s orbit in the mid-2030s, is predicted to heighten high tides by about two feet: https://www.livescience.com/high-tide-flooding-climate-change-2030

Business

Most of us would have Sasria insurance: this entity was created in the late 70’s by the state and costs little. The difficulty of course is that its resources may not cover the damage caused which, at the time of writing, is estimated as high as R30bn. It is important to remember that you must notify your insurer soonest, of riot-caused damage, as there appears to be a time limit within which one must claim. “We won’t go to court or spend money on lawyers to decide if your claim is valid or not. We are not going to define what a ‘riot’ means and reject claims if it falls outside of the riot definition. From our point of view, these are all Sasria-related claims and payments can be made within a week.”

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An interesting contra-experience move by Standard Bank is in the offing –to buy out minority shares in Liberty. This move is reportedly prompted by Liberty underperforming its rivals and points to a so-called bankassurance model set to be adopted by Standard Bank, in which integration of banking and insurance onto a single platform is sought and these are marketed together. Yes, Big Brother is finally giving up on its under-performing sibling. Expect staff rationalisation.

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Bloomberg has said that demand for lumber will ease from one of the world’s best-performing commodities.

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A much-circulated video shows the CEO of a major company partaking in looting. Can he be fired?

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So, your employees could not come to work – do you pay them? https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/506012/worker-and-employee-rights-during-riots-and-looting-heres-where-the-law-stands/

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How productive is our labour? 

Property

Moneyweb reports that commercial property rental arrears are burgeoning: TPN said that 62.5% of commercial tenants are in good standing, up from 50.36% in the second quarter last year. Nevertheless, this is significantly lower than the pre-Covid count of 77.8% and that of 83.5% some ten years ago. Some 12% of tenants have not paid their rentals at all in the first quarter of this year.

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Re/Max published a graph showing that a substantial growth in average house prices over the past year and even between Q1 & Q2 this year. The heading to that article leads one to expect a massive growth in transfers. I confess that I am sceptical – my perception is that transfer work, reaching our practice, and that of our competitors, has slackened.

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Last week I published a note in which Pam Golding commented on perceived overseas interest in our property market. This refrain has been taken up by Harcourts. Given what is going down now, I would not bank on this.

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The following information on burgeoning municipal rates, by Sapoa, holds the following:

  • of late municipal charges grew faster than any other operating cost i.e., the 2006 equivalent of R10 would be R41 in 2019;
  • over this period, the CPI grew by 78% but rates and taxes grew by 318%;
  • most of our municipalities are dysfunctional, yet there does not seem to be an appreciation of the situation by those who govern us – by way of example, the Steve Tshwete Municipal manager had been given a 48% increase over the lockdown period; 
  • Growthpoint warns of an up to 20% decline in SA property values.

The term used by the spokesman was a catastrophic value destruction. So, if your property was destroyed in the rioting – would you take the insurance money or rebuild?

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For a sane commentary on land rights see an Intellidex article on the topic: https://www.intellidex.co.za/insights/capital-markets/south-africa/stuart-theobald-impasse-shows-security-of-land-rights-hinges-on-accessibility-and-justice/

Quotables

Zuma saved lives by going to jail. 

JZ foundation

“The biggest tragedy of what is happening, is not that it’s happening. It’s that through it all, the great country of South Africa will learn nothing. And we won’t change anything. That’s the biggest tragedy of this whole situation.”

Mgitywa

A meme: my friend from the UK said SA is only country knows of where the public is stronger than army!

Comment

The unready

The core functions of a state should be to do what individuals cannot do for themselves, such as provide security, stability and so on.

The term insurrection is defined as a violent uprising against an authority or government. I am not sure that this term can be applied to what happened in KZN – there was (until now!) no violence directed at the authority. Sedition, i.e., conduct or speech inciting people to rebel, is possibly more apt. Identifying the cause(s) of the rioting is difficult, as everyone and his dog holds theories as to why this took place in KZN – ranging from hunger to coup attempts. The fact is that we do not fully understand why the upheaval was so widespread and furthermore there is a suspicion that the state may be withholding information which is embarrassing to it. Most irritatingly, our leaders emerged from the woodwork after most of the damage had been done and prated on about protecting us against what had already happened. By way of example: what is the name of our Minister of Defence? I would put money on it that most of those who read this would not know. (Another distracting image was that of the general leading the military in KZN – too fat to readily get out of the helicopter transporting him in – clearly a great example to those he leads) The fact is that crucial state functions were largely fulfilled by civil society rallying to fill this this gap; in the crisis as it was clear to all that state intervention was not forthcoming.

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A soldier is someone who is readied for something that we all hope is never going to happen. When that happens, to not be ready, is a dereliction of duty. To send soldiers into protect the police (and to hell with the citizenry) and then to have them arrive late, ragtag, and poorly led, is simply not on.

The fact is that our government’s response to the riots has been limp-wristed, late and ineffectual. I confess that I longed for some old-fashioned kragdadigheid – truly the legislation that prevents the taking of a life in defence of property, has not served us well of late and to tell soldiers not to fire warning shots and not assault civilians, reduces them to spectators. Had it not been for the citizenry in KZN, doing their vigilante thing, the damage in our area would have been much greater. Going sideways – in this respect I must say that I have newfound respect for the Indians in our area – these guys organise, and they are effective. I longed to see a burly truncheon-bearing sergeant beating the living daylights out of the heathen or an assault vehicle simply being driven over the cars of looters thus blocking the access to centres and the means of carrying off loot. In fact, I suspect that if deadly force was used, the death toll would have been less than the current count and most of the looting would not have happened. The Talking Hat arrives late and then chides those who protected us, against the use of violence, in the absence of his men, is indicative of a man clearly not in touch with what was going down. He, and those who would protect us on his behalf, was wonderfully shown up by one or two policemen who understood the situation and how to deal with it – they simply shot out the tyres of the vehicles used in looting, which vehicles then blocked access to the area. You immediately put a brake on the looting, have proof of who was involved, evidence of what was done and recovery of looted goods, all in one. I nominate that man Minister of Police. 

Ask yourself how many arrests were made in the past week and compare that to the 10,700 people who were arrested for not wearing a mask in KZN alone between 29 December and 21 February. When the going gets rough, the cops simply do not cut it. For the Prez to thank citizenry for assisting the police is nonsense – the police were largely absent, and the citizenry did this by themselves.

I had always thought that the phrase cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war meant to go to war: looking this up, the phrase would appear to relate to a military commander giving the order for his soldiers to pillage, loot and destroy an area (cry havoc). This immediately brings to mind Mr Niehaus and the paramilitary that he would represent. If the suggestions that the looting was organised – an almost inescapable conclusion – then we need to excise (a too mild solution?) the perpetrators from our community to prevent a further descent into anarchy. In this respect, the inciters responsible (the overenthusiastic Free Jacob Zuma campaigners?) will undoubtedly now argue that they were exercising their democratic right to free speech. They neglect to appreciate that there is a substantial difference between free speech, which might criticise judgements, and speech which leads others to violence.

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So, where to from here? The fact that so many of our citizens happily partook in looting, is an indication that looting is seen as socially acceptable. This is inimical to law and order and must be addressed. For our president to say that this is not who we are, is nonsense: if he were correct, the wholesale destruction of property would not have happened because most of those involved would have thought that, which was going down, was not okay.

Democracy in South Africa needs to be rethought – a better life for all has not arrived. We have not built the promised economic, cultural and social order – we have not extended to everyone what whites enjoyed under apartheid – an ideal that is clearly futile. To change the way we go about things, in a country which is unstable and led, not by the best, but by the loyal, is going to be a virtually impossible task. Extracting ourselves from this mess cannot be led by the state and citizenry will have to come to the rescue.

An interesting source on the topic is published by The Conversation; take for instance the following:

https://theconversation.com/south-africa-needs-new-thinking-for-its-democracy-to-work-for-all-162472  https://theconversation.com/south-africans-hold-contradictory-views-about-their-democracy-159647

Oh yes – I of course, believe that the cause of all the unhappiness is simply the fact that those involved were not able to buy dop over the weekend!

Lighten up

Thank you Prez:  … for improving my vocabulary. I would never have known the meaning of sedition, insurrection, quid pro quo, colluding, et cetera, without you!

It’s 2021 and a man walks into Church Square and screams: “Our Minister of State Security is an idiot!”

He is immediately arrested and given 15 years in prison.

Five for sedition.

Ten for revealing a state secret.

(Ex Russia – tampered with)

A flock of seagulls, a flock of sheep, a murder of crows…
An insurrection of idiots.

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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