Daan's Snippets

Economics

Same old plus ça change(for the Lani) ; the self inflicted decline of our economy and, indeed, our state, continues:

  • our SOE’s are in dire straits and a turnaround is certainly not in sight ;
  • power outages/loadshedding has become endemic to the point that Eskom now announces when it will not shed loads. Much the same applies to water supply;
  • our municipalities and similar institutions are unable to provide the services that they should, owing to mismanagement, lack of upkeep and overloading existing systems in a quest to provide services for those not favoured in the past.

All this and snouting at the trough of political reward, has led to economic stagnation and decline which may be seen in store closures and probably the slowest January in respect to deeds office transactions that I have seen in some time. BUSA has gone so far as to warn against recession. Our agricultural sector is said to be in recession. Sacci’s Trade Expectations Index, reflecting external trade, predicts that trade will decline for the next six months. Indeed, the sub 1% GDP growth rate for this year is beginning to sound optimistic.

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It is reported that the Fisc is has but two real options, given the bankrupt state all levels of government is in; to reduce state salaries or up taxes – both which produce negative growth.

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One of the few rays of hope that remains, is the wonderfully offbeat but wildly inaccurate, Big Mac Index, which holds that the Rand is undervalued against the US $ by 62%. The Economist says that currency, so rated against the $, generally strengthens against that currency over the following 10 years.

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I grew up in Zimbabwe and am still aghast at the destruction wreaked by the self-interest of politicians in the name of freedom in that country. Nevertheless, albeit from a low base, Zimbabwe’s GDP is projected 3% growth rate this year! 

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Our GDP growth over the past 10 years is reflected in a graph on the following website (select max); with occasional lapses our GDP in 1965 was in the order of 8% and the graph shows a downward trend which very shortly will be zero: https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/south-africa/real-gdp-growth

Business

Our  Business Confidence Index stands at 93.1%. That score for last year was the lowest since 1985.

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There are a few snippets and (some by now hoary) undertakings which may be noted in passing:

  • gyms will be regulated in future;
  • exclusive leases in malls are to be phased out following on a Competition Commission report.
  • the FNB/BER found life of sorts in our construction sector and holds out hope for this year;
  • fund managers are said to be bullish – apparently because of the weak performance of our bourse this year!. The difficulty with this viewpoint is that it is based on the assumption that the bourse will always grow.
  • The delay in issuing SA driver’s licenses, has led to promises of a modernisation strategy leading to 7-day delivery times (Such promises have become the stock of internal affairs for many years).

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An interesting aside, drawn from the conflagration in Australia, is that the damage caused by fires is partly due to the over-emphasis of conservation: tree farmers are not allowed to burn the offcuts/trash from trees, resulting in a very high combustible load within forests, and one may not clear fire-breaks without a host of consents, leading to these simply not being attended to.

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Gas found in the Free State may well be a game changer for South Africa: https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/renergens-free-state-project-shows-game-changing-potential-for-domestic-power-2019-12-16

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Small businesses fail for several reasons – which are well documented: if this interests you, take a look: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=869762

Property

House prices grew by 3.6% last year, says FNB, on the back of tepid personal disposable income. This less than inflation rate growth has dramatically affected our property market: I hope to have lodgement statistics, compared to that of previous years available soon.

Of course, house prices are affected by many factors, one of them are rising levels of emmigration which is said to be higher than in the past 10 years: estate agents’rallying cry on the back of such circumstances is that one should buy now whilst prices are low!

Interestingly, mortgage advances grew by 4.8% – the highest in a decade. This, and a willingness to lend full purchase prices by banks is an indication that banks are bullish about the recovery of their investments.

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Predictions are that are that our stagnant residential property market has either bottomed out or will probably do so in the next few months.

Rental prices are also stagnant.

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There has been a surge in the production of residential units – read primarily sectional units – in primarily Gauteng.

There are but five ways that exclusive use area parking bays in the sectional title scheme can legally be allocated to members: https://www.estatelife.co.za/whos-in-my-parking/

If you need a layman’s guide sectional title schemes and their management, you could do worse than buy this book: Demystifying Sectional Title by Marina Costas.

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What happens when you practice without a Fidelity Fund Certificate, which is late, owing to the inefficiency of the EAAB? Signature Real Estate is appealing against a decision, which upheld the letter of the law, via crowdfunding. I confess to having some sympathy – obtaining my own FFC certificate, after the change-over to our new governing body, was no cake-walk. https://propertyprofessional.co.za/2019/01/09/high-court-rules-no-ffc-no-commission/

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Investors in properties in their Western Cape might do well to take a look at the Wesgro property report for the Cape: https://www.wesgro.co.za/corporate/resources/western-cape-property-report-2018-19

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If the developer of a scheme imposes an unfair allocation of levies in the opening of a sectional scheme – may this be amended by way of a special resolution at an AGM? No: http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZASCA/2019/161.pdf

Practice 

The amnesty extended to prisoners in December is caused by overcrowding of and under-provision of prison facilities: part of the decline of our criminal justice system.

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The Registrar of Deeds has introduced a new system of applying for copies and searches. In principle, one can now do this from one’s desktop. Great idea, except that the search platform does not fully work (one of the two systems available only works on Explorer), the costs are sevenfold of what they were (one could view for R14 – now one pays R73) and, lastly, the same staff who were incapable of producing a copy in a week is still the staff who have to make electronic copies. Improving access means little if you do not jack up delivery.

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There are a number of pending disputes that will be interesting when the outcomes are available:

  • on 13 December the W Cape High Court gave a ground-breaking decision on collection costs (http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2019/172.html ) and, in pursuance of this an opt-out (an amazing inclusion) class action is expected against a host of credit providers, including banks, attorneys, retailers and the like (in essence the judgement holds that only the balance of the capital due on the institution of a recovery action is used for the calculation of the allowable cost under the statutory in duplum rule ;
  • if a trust refers to only children, can one extend the meaning thereof to include adopted children? In this case (http://www.saflii.org/cgi-bin/disp.pl?file=za/cases/ZASCA/2018/147.html&query=harper ) the W Cape High Courte said no – holding up as basis freedom of testation. This is set to be challenged in the Constitutional Court on the basis of unfair discrimination.
  • The some 25-year impecunious state of the RAF is well known: it is said that the average of claims not paid to claimants every month is some R4.3bn. Simpsons attempted to accelerate it’s client’s payments by attaching the accounts of the RAF. The RAF understandably, objects.
  • The contentious issue of the conversion of PTO rights under the Ingonyama Trust is set to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in March. Judging by newspaper reports, much is at issue other than just the face-value dispute: affected are the authority of traditional leaders, the ability of the trust to grant mining rights and so on.

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The Jhb High Court allowed health authorities to substitute the payment of costs to victims of medical malpractice with a promise of future medical care. This judgement, if implemented fully, will dramatically impact upon the ability of medical malpractice practitioners to recover their fees and costs where cases are taken on at risk.

http://www.saflii.org/cgi-bin/disp.pl?file=za/cases/ZAGPJHC/2015/223.html&query=%20%22k%22+%20MEC+%20Gauteng

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How does the Labour Relations Act interact with fixed term contracts?
Take a look: https://journals.assaf.org.za/index.php/per/article/view/4605/9157

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Can a WhatsApp message conclude a contract? Yes, see http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZASCA/2019/174.html

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What may be bonded under a notarial deed has been an oft debated issue: an article by West is useful in this respect: https://www.tech4law.co.za/business/conveyancing-in-south-africa/conveyancing-news-what-may-serve-as-security-under-a-notarial-bond/

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Same old: In 61 CE a Roman senator was murdered by one of his slaves and the Senate had put to death the perpetrator as well as all the slaves (400 in all) belonging to the murdered senator. Our Concourt following in these footsteps held that common purpose applies to rape also: http://www.saflii.org/cgi-bin/disp.pl?file=za/cases/ZACC/2019/48.html&query=%20Tshabalala_SCA

Quotables

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’.”
Lao Tzu

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“The despicable phoniness of people who say, ‘Listen, I’m going to level with you here’. What does that mean? It shouldn’t even need to be said. It should be obvious — written in block letters on your forehead…A straightforward, honest person should be like someone who stinks: when you’re in the same room with him, you know it…Fake friendship is the worst. Avoid it at all costs”  
Marcus Aurelius

Comment

Same old:

Much of what is presented to us as news is simply a rehash of past ideas – the following date from Roman times:

  • The principled assassination of Iranian general Soleimani: think JC and  the Ides of March.
  • Financial assistance for the poor in several guises (a hungry populace is a dangerous one): introduced by Gauis Graccus in the form of cheap grain for the poor. Later versions were Juvenal’s panem et circenses – handouts used to sway the popular vote.
  • Restitution of agricultural land to the poor: introduced by Tiberius Graccus in 133 BCE.
  • The reward of war veterans with land: Octavian returned from Philippi in 42 BCE after defeating Brutus and Cassius and oversaw a massive programme of land confiscation directed at providing settlement packages for returning soldiers. Interestingly, under Augustus, land grants were replaced with a monetary grants.
  • Ethnic cleansing/xenophobia: “Once you have given citizenship to the Latins,…do you think there will be any space for you, like there is now, in a contio or games or festivals? Don’t you realise that they’ll take over everything?” This rhetoric preceded the Roman Social War in 90 BCE.

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The following saying fits our ruling party like a glove: success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan. Our few successes are claimed by all and our failures, which are many, have no sponsors 

Lessons learnt: when South Africans win, someone takes the credit; when we lose we learn lessons, hinting that we would never make this mistake again. Nauseatingly repetitive.

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The term for the reward of those who supports one politically, in SA, is cadre deployment. This is not an ANC invention – it certainly has been with us since Roman times and is certainly employed to a certain extent in the USA. One suspects that the first wave of local cadres were, from their not having been blooded in politics and government, more incompetent than most. This understanding does not make the predatory and exploitative nature of our governing party, a guarantor of jobs for pals, more palatable. In Roman times legions carried war banners depicting the letters SPQR when they supported certainly not the people but only their general: our politicians act for themselves, citing the interest of the people.

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One suspects that our immigration problem stems from over-sympathy with those said to be oppressed elsewhere (and, of course, doing nothing about it, such as lauding the by now excruciating Zimbabwean implosion) and inept border control. What rankles is illegal immigrants complaining that they cannot have their children taken up in our schools!

Lighten up

Same old marital fun:

Terrorism strikes no fear in my heart. I’ve been married for years.

My ex-wife just texted me: wish you were here.
She does it every time she walks through a cemetery.

No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

I asked my wife if she ever fantasizes about me, she said yes – about me taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, and doing the dishes.

Bigamy is having one wife too many; monogamy is the same.
Oscar Wilde

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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