Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

Briefs (pun intended):

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Hard news: 

Economy

There are two tenuously related topics in our economic development, which are topical today:

  • The world has been galvanised by the COP26 summit and we will see huge sums being spent on re-energisation. Good; the realisation that our current energy use is self-destructive, seems to have sunk home. The difficulty with all this enthusiasm is that the crazies, those on the make and those with overcooked concerns are having a field day:
    • slating cows and cars as anathema (livestock are said to account for 14.5% of all human-derived emissions and suddenly steaks are on the hit list also).
    • deforestation will be reversed (political pressure seems to do nothing to Mr Bolsonaro; I have a South Coast friend – he wears crocs, accumulates stray dogs, weird friends and stray people, – who hits people. This gentleman, I am sure, would love to have a personal word with him).

This has led to our re-adoption by the West with a landmark green deal that will see us bankrolled to the tune of R130bn to reduce our dependency on coal (spare a thought for those who mine and export coal). We all will feel the love on sight of the cheque.

The difficulty with all of this is that much of this enthusiasm is misdirected and populist – green energy is not the full answer nor is it cheap, in terms of both manufacture and the means of generation. Much of the enthusiasm for decarbonisation is driven by nice, woolly, good-sounding objectives, which are now, driven as much by sentiment as by research. Locally, Eskom says that it requires R11bn annually but has only R5bn available for what is wonderfully termed reliability maintenance recovery. Political shenanigans and BS have led to inferior maintenance, the supply of inferior coal some power stations and (another wonderful expression) the depletion of technical skills within Eskom.

The only real upside of all of this is that there is an unprecedented holding of hands across borders – the next thing that will arise because of others, telling us what to do, is state sovereignty coming attack. Wait for it – those who bankroll will want to see the money spent wisely – those on the make, will suggest that this is improper political interference in local affairs.

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  • The second is related to the above by sustainability, cost and its effect on sovereignty. Bitcoin is punted as being anti-fiat money, which statement represents the tip of an impressive conspiracy theory. Bitcoin is the original big deal; single-platform, cloud-based, money which our government cannot access, trace or tax.

Fiat money is defined as money made legal tender by decree – it is institutionally backed and accepted worldwide, because of its stability. All of this, crypto currency is not, which has led to, for instance, a local ban of pension-fund investments therein.

Nevertheless, because of the impressive gains of crypto currency of late, everyone sees this as an investment, which also, it is not.

The latest crypto-green hype is El Salvador, reportedly harnessing geothermal energy for Bitcoin mining from a plant at the base of the Tecapo volcano, to become the first adopter of that currency. From a currency/investment crypto has become green!

Factually, just Bitcoin consumes an estimated 121.36 terawatt-hours of electricity annually – more than would be generated in Argentina. This, applied to a currency, is described as being anti-efficient; an argument which does Tesla’s green image little good, after it’s investment in this currency.

The fact that crypto currencies are still dollarised, to indicate value, says it all.

Business

Briefs:

  • The first draft of proposed changes to regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act, signifying a move away from prescribed assets, will allow pension funds to invest locally in public infrastructural projects.
  • The Companies Amendment Bill seeks the amendment of section 56 of the Companies Act to compel all companies to disclose the beneficial interests held by shareholders in that company. The concept of true owner is introduced, which seeks to go beyond the façade of opaque ownership.
  • The Competition Commission appears interested in the Takealot domination of our online sales platform. This has led to Naspers (which owns Takealot), calling for investigation of restrictive policies which might stifle early-stage technology investment. Sounds good but Naspers has a substantial interest in a positive result. 
  • The Old Mutual/Moyo scuffle, has resulted in a call by Adv Mpofu (not one of my favourite barristers, owing to the calibre of clients that he attracts) for the directors of Old Mutual to be held in contempt of court, for not reinstating Mr Moyo as ordered by the High Court. I confess to having sympathy with Moyo – I doubt that legal advice trumps a court order.
  • A very interesting question has arisen on the rules of governance of SOEs in which the public sector will hold interests (think broke and needing funding – SAA by way of example). Will these be run as companies?
  • The N2 road through the wild Coast was first planned in 1978 and seems again bogged down because of legal and labour disputes. Whatever – the fact is the area is not easily accessible.
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions… We have a register, in which companies, barred from doing business with government, is listed, right? Correct, except there are no names on this list!
  • Does the provision of financial assistance to related parties, contained within section 45 of the Companies Act, apply to foreign companies? Probably, but wait… https://www.mondaq.com/southafrica/corporate-and-company-law/1125560/does-section-45-of-the-companies-act-apply-to-foreign-companies?
  • A new ID system it is planned for South Africa to “reflect non-binary, intersex and trans persons”, i.e., deal with gender, citizenship, residency, with race classification being removed. I am fascinated by the idea that a part of our ID number will deal with gender and not s*x: my perception is that one gets to decide on one’s gender much later in life than the time when one is awarded an ID number? https://businesstech.co.za/news/government/534602/new-id-system-planned-for-south-africa/?
  • There are reports that Ethiopian Airlines might step into the African air vacuum left by the non-performance of local airlines.

Property

Estate agencies should defocus from the narrow approach that over-prioritizes education and training, instead of including making real trading opportunities available to the candidates:

The following statement was made in the Property Professional following on an EAAB drive to transform the industry: “The estate agencies are to defocus from the narrow approach that over-prioritizes education and training instead of including making real trading opportunities available to the candidates.”

This was followed up by: “Commission sharing models could be adapted to accommodate participation of candidate agents or some form of a group scheme that provide material support to candidates (and some form of direct participation in transactions),”

I confess prejudice: inexperienced or inept estate agents are, in my opinion, overpaid for the service that they render (I hasten to say that my experience is primarily with white estate agents, to which the following comments primarily apply). To even consider lowering standards to accommodate BEE, is not clever – we did this in the legal profession and the outcome has been a rash of practitioners who may be PC, but do those, whom they serve, few favours. When it comes to the quality of service, race should have no place other than as preference of purchase by the client. To lower a qualification hurdle, to promote access, is an insult. If greater access to the cohort of estate agents is required, by all means assist with training, but do not drop standards.

https://propertyprofessional.co.za/2021/11/05/eaab-should-do-more-for-transformation-in-industry/

Quotables

“Should the trustees’ stance prevail in these circumstances, it would mean that the court’s hands are tied in the face of an injustice. As remarked in Barkhuizen v Napier,[22] the hands of justice can never be tied under our constitutional order. That would give the trustees a license to act with impunity by arbitrarily and whimsically prohibiting estate agents from operating in the scheme. Courts must endeavour to do simple justice between parties.”

At 48, in the last case quoted under Practice: Attaboy!

Lighten up

“I like to teach, it’s easier than learning.”

Updike

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“Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.” 

Twain

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Drawings that will make you see how bad the world is
The underworld
Political stars and other celebrities in their visit to the common people.

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
LinkedIn Profile

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