The future master of my fate (and captain of my soul etc.) and I had undertaken a sojourn into Spain to celebrate son number 1’s … merciful release into marriage.
Enduring impressions of that country will be the amazing efficiency of its public transport, a gratitude for the space that we S’effricans enjoy and the extent of its farming operations in what is virtually Karroo.
The first is obvious. The second borne out by the realisation that a middle-class person in South Africa enjoys housing that a similarly placed European simply cannot afford or even acquire. True, this is offset to an extent by access to good public facilities and an easy and safe social life that South Africans can but dream of. Lastly, travelling through the southern Spanish countryside with a glance at Google, brought the realisation that Spain has 2.7 million ha under olives – more than twice that of Italy. The efficiency of agriculture there is to be marvelled at.
Economy and business
Our economy is taking a pounding; this has happened before, but the greater threat is that our outlook for recovery is bleak. Consider the following graph and you will note that ours is the only one of the countries listed for which the IMF predicts that our per capita income will continue to fall:
The result of this self-inflicted harm is a repo rate last seen in the GFC and a record-low Rand. This reminds me of a Laughter Is the Best Medicine Readers Digest line, reflecting on a west German letter to East German family that they aided by supplying food, that the wurst is yet to come.
The most visible source of our economic woes is load-shedding – our Reserve Bank said that each stage of unmet electricity demand costs our economy R300m per day; we had lost 650,000 jobs last year and will still lose 850,000 jobs as a result. Finally, estimations are that, by 2025, our private sector will produce more electricity than Eskom – a market lost to Eskom for ever. An enormous economic price for politico incompetence.
General financial news is:
· The post office is virtually dead, and Telkom appears to be going the same way.
· A government which cannot run a hospital efficiently, now wants to introduce NHI.
· A state-owned SA National Petroleum Company, is in the process of being set up, allowing our government to allow government to “participate meaningfully in oil and gas developments”. Heaven help us.
· The standard of provincially and state-owned nature reserves is declining, owing to inept management and staff and budget cuts. The latter is understandable …; if our people do not have clean water, why bother about stuff that has always been there and comes free?
· In my forties, a national dairy company was one of my most valued clients. The following statistic on dairy production is insightful:
Business tidbits are:
· If you ever doubted this – TopAuto did the sum – it is cheaper for a single person to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town, than it is to drive.
· I do not know how well this link functions, but if you are continually spammed by all sorts, you might consider opting out of such by the good guys: https://www.nationaloptout.org/
· Emigration from South Africa is old hat, despite the damage that it does in terms of lost skills a shrinking taxpayer base etc. What is new, is more palatable reasons for this: young professionals increasingly emigrate to study whilst working as a digital nomad.
· Section 197 of the LRA is intended to protect workers, where a business is sold as a going concern. For this to be triggered, there need not necessarily be a transfer of the entirety of the assets of the business – the essence of a business transfer lies in the transfer of essential staff and business assets: https://www.golegal.co.za/business-going-concern/
Lastly, does working hard make you a good person? The bias that hard work is good/moral, is deep-rooted, but we should probably be looking at results rather than effort: https://www.ted.com/talks/azim_shariff_does_working_hard_really_make_you_a_good_person/c?
· Two lawyers, one a foul-mouthed attorney and the other a now disbarred advocate, have made news which our profession does not need. The first is understandable – one cannot practice if one does not from time to time experience the need to, ahem, … express frustration. The second not – to again appear in robes after disbarment, causes one to wonder how that gentleman managed to persuade his peers (who hold themselves as the senior profession) that he was a suitable person to practice?
· The Tolkien estate has been taken on by a gentleman who alleges copyright infringement in The Lord of the Rings. This is going to be interesting, as there appears to be some basis for the claim.
· Privatisation? A recent report held that lawyers paid for diesel to keep the Dimbaza Magistrate Court’s lights on, to finalise a murder trial. The appearers clearly believe in their clients’ innocence, as one would otherwise have expected them to postpone judgement and gain time?
· An AI lawyer? Try: https://www.legalandtax.co.za/ai-lawyer
· All attorneys should, by 31 May, have completed a FICA risk compliance return: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=szVSHGOkAUqWp9wmNLKqdLU4BubRDmlBiXfcI1Q1ibJURU0wOTUwMkZCVENXOVUzOVZNMVVQU1FDUS4u Oh yes, this form was clearly designed by an alien – I defy you to answer all the questions cogently.
· Countywide the Master has changed contractors for the archiving of documentation relating to all trusts and estates, which were registered before 2011. This has delayed the retrieval of many files.
o life partners are entitled to apply for maintenance from their former partners: https://businesstech.co.za/news/lifestyle/686521/unmarried-south-africans-can-still-pay-aliomny-to-their-ex/
o as regards a claim against a partner’s pension benefits: https://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAGPJHC/2023/208.html
· Con/Arb processes relating to CCMA disputes: https://www.golegal.co.za/objection-con-arb/
· A restraint of trade is a provision, often contained in employment or sale contracts, that a person should not compete with an existing business – a short note: https://www.fluxmans.com/article/restraints-trade-sale-business-agreements-dot-your-and-cross-your-ts-ian-jacobsberg-jess
Conveyancing and notarial work:
· Notional VAT claims may be made by a purchaser where a that entity does not pay VAT but wishes to include a property purchased by it within its VAT-net: https://www.litnet.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/LitNet_Akademies_j19n2e7_Botes.pdf
· Tonkin Clacey recently published a note on marriage partners contracting contrary to their ANC, which is certainly worth a read as this, believe it or not, is an oft encountered issue: https://www.tcinc.co.za/OurInsights/ArticleDetail.aspx?Title=Is-an-agreement-between-spouses-contrary-to-the-ANC-valid?
· An entire contract, including all its material terms, must be reduced to writing and signed to comply with the Alienation of Land Act: https://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZASCA/2023/66.html courtesy of West
· If a contract for the sale of property does not state who should apply for approved plans for a building on the property sold, who is responsible to do this? http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAKZDHC/2023/21.html courtesy of STBB
· The FNB Commercial Property Broker Survey for Q1 2023, points to a decline in commercial real estate sales. Capital growth is forecast to return to negative territory.
· Property operating costs, as a percentage of gross income, is trending upwards.
· Landlords increasingly provide solar panels and inverters (with tenants having to provide their own batteries), in attempts to incentivise tenants to rent.
· Green certified prime A-grade offices unsurprisingly outperformed non-certified office assets, but the difference in net return is interesting: green-certified offices delivered a total return of 6.1%, at the end of last year, whilst non-certified offices returned 5.6%. Since inception in 2016, the difference in performance is a total of 20.9%. Green officers had a 2.1% lower vacancy rate, despite a 25% higher capital value per square metre. Worth a look? https://propertywheel.co.za/2023/05/total-returns-in-green-certified-prime-a-grade-offices-outperformed-non-certified-offices-in-2022/
· Banks are tightening lending on homes, resulting in a shrinkage of bond proved sizes and a rise in the deposits required to buy. The average size of a deposit for a home, is now 7.5% of the purchase price, but, for a first-time buyer, that average is 9.7%.
· The Western Cape is still the busiest home market, but the Free State sported 71.4% of its total bond applications emanating from first-time homebuyers. The Northern Cape is becoming very expensive, home-rental -wise.
· A failure to abide by zoning and building restrictions, may lead to the demolition of the buildings built: https://chrisfick.co.za/neighbours-behaving-badly-illegal-buildings-and-demolition-orders/
· Illicit business forums use community poverty as vehicle to extort developers by incentivising community protests with promises of employment and wealth-sharing.
· Tongaat Hulett Developments was one of the prime providers of land for development North of Durban. The business rescue plan, for this entity, will provide secured creditors with some seven cents in the Rand. Eina!
· Citigroup intends developing a Mega River City and airport on the banks of the Vaal River on property occupied by ArcelorMittal and Sasol.
As one reads, you pick up wonderfully descriptive phrases from others; one such is Metastasising Ineptitude, used by me above, and the other is Peak Gatvol.
The latter is used by Rob Rose, dealing with business attitude to political ineptitude, and, worse, having a populace sacrifice for a party/person to stay in power.
Businesstech recently published a write up on The Social Attitudes Survey done by the HSRC which is punted as a nationally representative, cross-sectional survey. The survey recorded an increase in despondency and hopelessness amongst our citizens and suggested that we had crossed a threshold towards pessimism a year or so ago.
The only positive that one may draw from this, is that South Africans are increasingly making do on their own and that a voting swing, born of a now-forgotten liberation, towards results may be on the cards.
Making do will ensure survival.
A voting swing must needs happen away from a party known only for liberation but not governance. We are approaching Peak Gatvol. The fact is that those who govern have calamitously destroyed much of the South African infrastructure, at various levels, which was to be built on to make good promises of a better life.
A wonderful example of political stupidity is the recent hoo-ha on the loading/unloading of the Lady R in Cape Town: nothing of note was loaded but the cargo is “classified”!
My incompetent uncle Hans worked at a sausage shop in Frankfurt. One day he fell into the mixer.
Hans is literally the wurst.
Did you hear about the incompetent circumciser?
He slipped and got the sack.