Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

News:

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Hard news:

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I read, with some horror, a newspaper headline stating: “Even apartheid judges would listen to him as they found him honest and reliable” (Ebrahim referring to Adv Kuny). Said with a quaver in my voice: When I was young, being honest was the norm for advocates. That one has to say of an advocate, that he was found to be reliable, is indicative of a public grown tired of legal BS, visited upon us, by those who would be brothers. 

Economy

Since 1994, our per capita GDP, compared to the rest of the world, has deteriorated by approximately 20%. Even when compared to the rest of Africa, we have retrogressed. In 1994  Eskom generated more electricity per capita than the rest of the world. Today our country generates close to 60% of the world average. These are ex Rood – take a look for yourself: https://businesstech.co.za/news/business-opinion/533364/south-africas-decline-in-13-graphs/

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Our Minister of Finance will propose that the current distress grant be terminated and replaced with a family grant Potato/Potato). The difficulty with this drift of thought is that it signals a nation destabilising – we are borrowing money to feed desperately poor people rather than addressing the underlying issues.

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The things people say:

  • adaptation finance: think the cost of climate change;
  • realignment of exchange rates: Rand dropping like a stone;
  • challenge: something you forgot to do/ cannot do; and
  • revenue requirement: term used by Nersa referring to Eskom asking for more but not cutting costs.

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Light music:

  • Our Health Department on Covid test costs:  “The laboratories themselves have been keen to push the prices down and came to us for guidance.” Really?
  • China’s ambassador to SA: “For 50 years, China and Africa have worked together to defend multilateralism and protectionism, firmly maintain the international order and international system with the UN as the court, upholding the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other basic norms governing international relations, and effectively safeguard the common interests of developing countries and the overall interests of the international community.” Would you say that Department of Foreign Affairs knows/understands this BS?
  • Our government news portal, sanews, says this of the trade imbalance between South Africa and China: “Both our countries have already recognised the current balance of trade between our two countries as untenable for the sustenance of mutually beneficial cooperation and agreed to address this.” Sounds great but a call for joint research and development is not going to address the inequality and ensure that democracy works to improve people’s lives in both countries!
  • Wits academic Michael Sachs: The basic Income grant “will reduce poverty and hunger but won’t lead to growth.” 
  • Looking for freelance work: take a look at the new LinkedIn feature that connects white-collar professionals with businesses which need their services.
  • The Minister of Finance says that his medium-term expenditure framework assumes no pensionable salary increases for public servants in the 2022-2023 financial year – it does provide for pay progression of 1.5% annually. Our public service wage bill stands at just over one third of government spending and is higher than the global norm.
  • Most big companies gather data they can analyse and use – a trend driven by technology. Having data as capital, means nothing if you cannot extract useful information from that. If you are a big player and are in this situation, I have an answer for you: drop me a note.

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Bach: inflation is back and the expectation is that interest rates will rise. I had always  assumed an inflation rate was something that happened to a country.    Courtesy of SWKE I now understand that if one sets a lower inflation target, that in itself influences the public at large, to expect and provide for more modest price rises which, in turn leads to lower inflation. If the Reserve Bank Governor is supported in his intent to lower our inflation targeting, this should positively affect the “realignment of our exchange rate”.

Business 

Shorts:

  • Consequences, said the Prez, of those who do not do their duty – BS. This week revealed the shocking state of some of our powerplants, but I have not seen anyone fired yet.
  • On the same topic: the ANC has had a go at Eskom for its nonperformance, muttering political interference, yet that very party, ultimately controls Eskom. The fact is that the planning of our power system has collapsed and that Eskom is suffering from a lack of skills. With 94 days of power outages forecast in the coming months, the outlook is grim.
  • SAPS spokesman: “We will arrest anyone who embarks on illegal action that compromises the movement of other motorists on the road.” Clearly joking.
  • Invest in altcoins? Cryptos are all the rage and there are now even exchange listings of companies that would hold these on your behalf. An investment they are not – they earn no interest and have little value of their own. Their value only arises when others attempt to buy in, thus making their purchase a gamble.
  • Health care professionals can earn CPD points attending a roadshow on the benefits of cannabis for medicinal purposes. We, in Durban, have known about this for years!
  • Tourism is a substantial source of foreign currency in South Africa. Renewing a tourist licence and providing transport for tourists, is in crisis, owing to the issuing authority’s inefficiency. Being removed from Britain’s Red List means nothing if we do not have operators to service tourists. Believe it or not, in 2015 the NPTR was formed in order to solve this very issue, with little result.

Property

Trends:

  • The small and medium general building confidence is said to be at its highest level in three years. The problem with this is that the building boom is driven, in part, by of damaged infrastructure owing to unrest rather than growth. Despite rising confidence, 70% of respondents are still dissatisfied with current business conditions.
  • The residential property market is cooling down. Reports hold that sentiment towards owning residential property as investment, in the light of civil unrest, is waning.
  • Nominal house prices increased nationally by 3%, yoy,last month, but remaining at an average of 4.3% over the period January to September – on par with our inflation rate.
  • Sales of properties between R800k and R1.5m, accounts for the largest portion of all transfers registered in the third quarter.
  • Continued competition amongst the major banks, has translated into higher bond approval rates, as well as offers of attractive interest rates. This has also led to a softening of deposit requirements, for bond approval.
  • To be expected is that the office sector was hardest-hit by the pandemic, whilst the retail sector has held up quite well. SAPOA had reported a record third-quarter office vacancy rate of 15.4%.

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Asides:

  • Stadio has launched its Khulisa Student Share Scheme, which issues alumni with K1k worth of shares.
  • Mostly symbolic, but worth a look.
  • Racism by another name? The EAAB has launched an investigation of rental racism, i.e. a request by a landlord for race specific tenants. This would be an interesting debate – is one allowed to choose tenants by race? If not, how does the situation in Orania differ from that in Cape Town?
  • Son 2 is a tech nerd/architect/engineer – he maintains that a concentration of poorer residents is desirable as the rendering of services, transport and the like is much cheaper. Trust the Russians to do this best: https://www.reddit.com/r/UrbanHell/comments/pvhj9x/18000_people_in_a_single_building_saint/

Comment

By far the most interesting news of the past week was Gareth Cliff being blown off by Nando’s, and De Kock initially refusing to take the knee and then succumbing to pressure.

Nandos used to make news by teasing off news. When it sponsors a talk-show named Burning Platform and the white host burns (arguably justifiably) a black woman, Nando’s took the fiscally wise option. That choice says it all: teasing is fine but when it hurts the bottom line…

De Kock was simultaneously lauded and reviled, depending on the political position of the commentator. His choice says it all: one needs to eat…

The interesting thing about the latter issue is that taking the knee is both an ethical and a social question. No one should be compelled to support a cause – after all, support under compulsion, is hardly convincing? On the other hand, how does one sell an event when the personal ethics of those, who take part in the event, is not acceptable to those who watch? The bottom line of sponsorship must always triumph, as the raison d’être of those, who sponsor, is to bolster the bottom line.

This train of thought leads to what is termed cultural Marxism: a wonderfully malleable expression. One could argue that the Western/capitalistic approach, would be to promote equal opportunities at entry, whilst the socialistic approach would be to promote equal outcomes. The desirability of the smoothing out of contradictions within a society is debatable, but becomes irrelevant when the majority requires equality for a better survival.

Lighten up

Why is every gender equality officer female?

Because it is cheaper! (Eina!!!)

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What is the difference between the USA and yoghurt?

If you leave yoghurt alone for 300 years, it develops a culture

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
LinkedIn Profile

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