Daan's Snippets

Economy

Listening to the Prez on the issue of compulsory pension investments in SOEs: his lack of denial would indicate that this proposal is certainly not off the table. Why does the State not invest the pension funds it holds on behalf of state employees in those funds as a test? Much like the comparison between a chicken and a pig when it comes to breakfast: the one is involved and the other is committed. Civil service would become a commitment…

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Numerous reports suggest that there is a sustained outflow of funds from South Africa: a commentator on RSG Geldsake estimated that we have resultantly lost between R1-2 trillion in growth. Essentially South Africa cannot grow to its potential if this continues. This https://www.moneyweb.co.za/moneyweb-radio/markoorsig-514/

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I have seen this before and have no idea how accurate this is; a national debt to GDP “clock” which shows the high debt levels of countries such as Germany and the UK. South Africa debt-to GDP ratios are quite mild compared to some of these. Take a look: https://www.usdebtclock.org/world-debt-clock.html

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JP Landman is an optimistic political analyst and was quoted widely this past week: he says that we neglect to see the progress that has been made by our new government, amongst other things in removing from office those who have done us a disservice.

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A step in the right direction? It is reported that our Treasury has asked state departments to prepare proposals on how to reduce expenditure seeking to cut costs by 5% next year, 6% the year after and 7% for the following two years. If they pull this off, I might even want to pay my taxes!

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It is difficult to measure the extent of our informal economy: Alec Hogg opines that our real unemployment rate is closer to 12% than 29%. He interviewed GG Alcock to highlight our flourishing informal economy. Perhaps things are not all that bad? https://www.biznews.com/good-hope-project/2019/08/22/gg-alcock-recognise-informal-economy

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The Lesedi 3 & 4 coal-bed methane pods have each achieved a sustained gas flow of about 20,000 ft³ a day. This could be a significant boost for the whole region and possibly even supply power to Botswana.

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Interestingly, a report in the Engineering News suggests that the cost of producing hydrogen gas (as renewable) will plummet in the coming decades. The projection is that, once scaled up, hydrogen could be produced from wind or solar power for the same price as natural gas.

Business

Being fair and being effective is not the same thing: a statement by coal analyst Prévost that Eskom (being fair) asking for coal tenders and therefore pushed up the price of coal, piqued my interest. His suggestion is that negotiations with individual mines produced much better prices. The problem here is that with all the shenanigans to date a tender system is probably the only way to go.

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This week past, state promises (again?) that suppliers would be paid promptly were published. At the same time there was a report that Public Works owes R63m to just KZN municipalities. It is probably reasonable to ask that the state pays third tier government institutions in the same manner as it would the private sector – third tier government has a very direct influence on service delivery and such payment would be greatly appreciated by all of us.

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Durbs! MSC has committed R200m to the construction of a cruise ship terminal in Durban, to be completed in 2021. This interests me if you want port facilities you must pay for it yourself upfront!

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Another step going forward: our government is expected to go live with a business portal by October as part of a reform directed at easing the process of doing business. https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/efforts-under-way-to-improve-south-africas-business-ranking-2019-08-19

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Last week I reported on an apparent cure for the tree-destroying PSHB beetle: the boss-man at NCT sent me a note on the topic which more accurately portrays the situation and which carried this X-reference: https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/lifestyle/home-and-gardening/2019-08-13-no-magic-cure-to-stop-the-beetle-thats-killing-trees-across-sa/  Apparently the treatment is effective but costs thousands to treat a single tree.

Property

Loos (FNB) reported that the number of residential building plans passed in South Africa declined by -24.8% yoy in Q2/2019 following on a -13.7% in the first quarter. He also says that the average price deflation in that market, has made it difficult for developers to compete with existing prices.

Having lived through a couple of these cyclical swings, one that can predict that development slows down, demand picks up, and ultimately, timing when the pent-up demand swings the market upwards is everything for developers. What will disturb this scenario is that such developments would probably need to be pitched at the lower end of the market, which is growing faster than the top end. Developments at the bottom end of the market simply does not give the return that top end developments do.

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A new funding model for the Land Bank? I confess that after reading about a lot of talk, I have nothing concrete to offer (same old?): https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/land-bank-funding-model-needs-work-2019-08-20

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I have a client who supplies serviced offices: a demand for such rentals are predicted to increase, as tenants come under increasing pressure. https://www.property360.co.za/news/commercial-property-owners-under-pressure-30938357

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Conveyancers frequently see schemes in which additions are made to units or the use of a portion of a unit is changed without formal consent from the body corporate. To regularise additions can be problematic, especially in bigger schemes, as one needs unanimous consent from the members. Does this also apply to the change of use? Generally speaking, yes, read Mineur v Baydunes: http://saflii.org/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2019/59.html

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You would love this: The Guardian reported on a first negative interest mortgage launched by a Danish bank: one still makes monthly payments, but the capital outstanding is reduced by more than the borrower pays.

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At first blush, our Concourt’ s decision to allow the appointment of a Special Master for Labour Tenants duplicates a function of the state. The Special Master’s an agent of the Land Claims Court and, at least to my mind, extends judicial control into the (non) functioning of our state apparatus. Ask me for a copy of the judgement in Mwelase v DG Rural Development.

Practice

Rule 43 interim divorce orders: the Constitutional Court has reportedly (I have not been able to find the case, but I suspect this would be cited as S v S) ruled that such orders are not appealable.

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The National Credit Amendment Bill is set to become law: the Bill provides for debt suspension for consumers who earn R7500 or less per month and have unsecured debt amounting to 50,000 Rand. How this plays out remains to be seen. Roodt, I think correctly, refers to this as a form of expropriation. 

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The Deputy Minister of State Security, Mr Kodwa has called for complaints against state capture to include a probe into our judiciary. Fair enough: judging by the current press reports the first to be taken to task could well be Judge Seriti, whose judgement in the Seriti commission is now (mildly stated) being called into question – some refer to this as a whitewash.

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Lexinfo has launched a newsletter for attorneys which looks interesting: ask Daphne Burger at daphne@lexinfo.co.za

Quotable 

Happiness can exist only in acceptance.

George Orwell

Comment

Gender neutral rugby – really? World Rugby, in its commitment to equality, will be dropping gender designations from its World Cup namings in future: one wonders how we would distinguish between games unless one looks at the fine print?

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Displaying the old South African flag (sommer) is hate speech: if I fly the old Boer Vierkleur, would that be hate speech against Britain? (Mildly put, the aggregation of the British Empire would never pass the PC test today). The case from which all this emanates may be found at http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAEQC/2019/2.html

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Will doctors leave South Africa if NHI is introduced? Of course not, saith those who govern us. Strangely, and contrary to this belief, is the statement by MEC Dr Masuku that Cuban training for doctors should be supported, as those trained there would be more likely to stay in South Africa than others. Remarkable: only non-Cuban doctors would want to emigrate right? Why: one speculates that no one elsewhere would employ them? If you are a hypochondriac, you had better start learning Spanish! 

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Hell hath no fury…? The Times reported on a woman (of ill repute?) who had been summoned by one in need of succour and, on arriving and finding him asleep, torched his house.

Lighten up 

Are you showing contempt for this court?” After a short hesitation, the litigant answered, “No your Honour. I’m doing my best to hide it.”

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Most attorneys practice law because it gives them a grand and glorious feeling.

You give them a grand and they feel glorious.

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As the lawyer woke up after surgery, he said” “Why are all the blinds drawn?”

The doctor answered: “There’s a big fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to think the operation was a failure.”

Client (to Solicitor), “So I said to them, “I’ve tried to get a settlement by fair means and failed. You will now hear from my lawyer!””

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
LinkedIn Profile

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