April 12th, 2024 | Business, Economics, Practice


Economic trends (grim and getting worse):

  • Our economic growth is painfully slow (the World Cup bank is optimistic in setting a recovering growth rate edging to 1%) With inflation edging up towards the 6% the upper range target of the Reserve Bank is a portend one would not want to see now. The SARB governor has expressed an intent to establish a lower inflation target in the next two years.
  • Indicative of weak growth is our JSE SHARE Index which has remained virtually unchanged from the beginning of the year.
  • On the topic of GDP: our per capita GDP continues to decline, compared to our emerging markets and developing economy peers (ex Codera).
  • The SARB reports that our national savings rate is falling, which makes us more reliant on overseas capital for fixed investment projects.
  • The above dire news had reportedly increased our outflow of skills and capital – there was some speculation that reverse immigration was picking up. This was apparently based on anecdotal evidence supplied by the purveyors of properties, none talking up sales. This perceived trend has now been debunked with figures showing that only about 6% of those who left have returned. The latest on emigration is a report that we have had an outflow of software developers which is understandably not good news.
  • A note on stalled growth may be found at https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2024-04-11-daan-steenkamp-sa-has-not-felt-tight-grip-of-austerity-yet/


General news of interest

  • An interesting note on the investment trend in the USA of younger people (RSG/IONO) holds that young Americans prefer crypto assets above property and shares. Very different from the investment advice that I received from my Jewish principal (property, immovable assets – think diamonds/gold, and shares).
  • I had heard of the Zig but had not understood what it stood for, i.e. Zimbabwe Gold. Apparently, the Zig represents the sixth Zimbabwean attempt at the revitalisation of its currency. Holding your breath is not recommended.
  • I would normally place the following in my professional new section of these notes; however, electronic signatures are such a topical issue that it is worth looking at. I had received an article on this ex West – ask me for a copy.
  • The award of the intended contract for the upgrade of the Durban Container Terminal has been challenged by Moller-Maersk – expect delays!
  • The spectre of investment in prescribed assets by South Africans has raised the question of what alternative investment options are available: https://www.moneyweb.co.za/qa/advisor-questions/if-prescribed-assets-are-enacted-what-alternative-investment-options-are-there/
  • You will recall that the roll-out of new drivers’ licence cards was going to kick off in November with a pilot project. By January the new printing machines had not been acquired – we now learn that the DOD has not even acquired new printers for these licences yet. However, don’t stress, the new machines would be available by the end of March; ahem, end of April…
  • From the 15th of this month, companies will not be able to file CIPC annual returns unless the beneficial ownership information has been submitted and is up to date.
  • Lastly, and if you are a sceptic: the restructured SA Post Office will be lean, agile and cost-effective! Fantastic – my fairy godmother promised me wings!
  • Electronic signatures – when is a wet signature required? I hold an article, on the topic, written by Singh and sent to me by West – ask me for a copy.



Property news is thin: Codera reports that, even in the Western Cape, building plans passed are dramatically down on what was the norm 15 years ago.


Our cities, which carry the highest air pollution, are Benoni, Bloemfontein and Brits. The most popular suburb, in terms of sales volume and price for the past two years, since is Bryanston.


Municipal dysfunction is the norm and a side note by Codera refers to a post by it, about a month ago, noting that no municipality had spent more than 2% of the value of assets on maintenance and repair. A dismal situation!

Whilst on this topic, the City of Johannesburg has been slapped with a punitive costs order by the High Court in Johannesburg, after placing obstacles in the path of resolving a seven-year dispute, over excessive water and electricity billing charges.


One ray of sunshine, of sorts, is a note that the Bankenveld District City, to be situated between Marlborough and Waterfall, is on the cards for Johannesburg.


Legal issues:




  • Serial litigants:
    • I confess that, without having read the judgement of the Electoral Court (it is not yet available), one must express surprise. I suspect that the bar on serving as representative in Parliament was inserted in our Constitution to ensure that those who are not upright should not represent the public. It is difficult to understand that a pardon expunges the reason for incarceration. On reading the newspaper report, it would appear that the IEC may not have the authority to take such a decision and there appears to have been administrative errors leading up to the conclusion reached by that body. Whatever; the governing party must be regretting its leniency!
    • Judge Hlope’s appeal, to reverse his removal as judge, is set to create Concourt problems as newspapers report that eight judges may recuse themselves from this case leaving the bench short of a judge.
  • Our High Court ruled that a Tax Court is not a “court of law”.
  • Comparing sentences can sometimes be problematic. A teacher who pocketed R400k pleaded guilty and got a wholly suspended sentence. A bookkeeper who stole R1.3m got 10 years imprisonment.
  • 53 tax practitioners who were non-compliant in their own taxes might be struck off the roll by SARS. Keep your tax nose clean.
  • An interesting note involves a bunch called Piggy Farm Trading and what is termed crowd farming: an article, earlier this week, held that you could buy virtual pig ownership for R2200 and the entity, in which you invested, would pay you a profit of R500 per pig per month. Sounds great, but the FSCA has closed that operation down.
  • Of passing interest: Fitch has downgraded China’s credit outlook from stable to negative but retained its A+ status.

Hard news:





A Network24 note, on an interview with Theuns Eloff, reminded me that a well-worn pattern is repeating itself in South Africa, i.e. that a liberation organisation that remains in power for too long, prejudices governance and a country. We are probably approaching an inflection point in our politics, which will remove the governing party from power, which is a good thing.


Lighten up



Written by: Daan Steenkamp



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