March 11th, 2023 | Business, Economics, Practice

Gentle Reader

I spoke to an old friend a week ago who asked why I trifle with business and economic news, given that this is freely available for anyone who would enquire. He is right: my inclusion of such news had its origins in research, that I did many years back, in which it was shown that most attorneys are clueless about business, and I had sought to address this. Henceforth I shall deal with arcane and interesting business and economic news only. The balance of this newsletter is already narrowed to primarily property practice and those things that affect practice.




Economy and business

We are on the cusp of a mild recession, and this is reflected in our latest global financial ranking. In such circumstances, businesses plan according to Treasury and SARB predictions. The question we should ask ourselves is whether these predictions are valid? Moneyweb recently published an article in which the latter institution predicted a 0.3% GDP growth for this year, compared to Treasury predicting 0.9%. There is not that much difference in these figures, but the question inevitably arises to what extent these institutions still have the capacity to do the work set out for them and whether they should not work together more.


News, that will have an impact on our economic future, is the construction of a Richards Bay power station, set for completion in 2028, the demise of the Department of Public Enterprises, and Stellantis (think Fiat, Citroen, Jeep, Opel, Peugeot) planning an automotive construction facility in South Africa.


The total debt owed by municipalities to Eskom is R56 bn (a growth of 40% in just over a year) with an additional R8bn due to the State’s Water Trading Entity, plus another R14bn owed to water boards. The reason is 66 dysfunctional municipalities and a further 151 on the brink of financial collapse.

Whatever – one doubts that this will get better soon, plan accordingly.



TPN reports that rental vacancy rates are down – this is to be expected, as home ownership has become increasingly unaffordable. This, in turn, must result in a pent-up demand for home rentals and possibly rental increases.

A part of the affordability issues of homes may be laid at the door of increased use charges and rates levied by municipalities – because of their poor collection rates, they must needs pick up the cost of services to those who do pay. Again, this problem is unlikely to be addressed soon.


Getting married, clearly you need to buy a home and it’s a great investment? Perhaps not:


The following graph illustrates why semigrationalists prefer the Western Cape:




  • I chanced upon an advertisement of funding by SASSETA for pupil advocates; I was curious, so I ask whether candidate attorneys will be funded also: no – they do not have funding available for such as we. If you ask, I shall send you the letters.
  • This week past, the NEHAWU strike closed down the Pietermaritzburg Deeds Office. The strikers were fat and probably fewer than ten. Intimidation didn’t really work well so “someone” (it is clearly impossible that someone could have seen that person and our security cameras don’t work) sprayed pepper spray into the Deeds Office interior. This caused the registry to grind to a halt and eventually led to the closure of that office for three days. I sent the acting Master a photo of a gentleman (said to be a senior official within that office) with a whip (who had suggested that I look like an altar boy and needed a good dressing down) and she claimed not to be able to identify this worthy. I just wanted to send him my address, he was…so forceful…

The fact is that the strike was not peaceful; several strikers carried whips and the threat of violence caused the Registrar to close the office for fear of injury to his staff. Not one of the strikers, to my knowledge, has been identified and will presumably be taken to task. Two cops came to our rescue but declined to get out of the car. Fat.

  • The newspapers had a field day on a gentleman “predisposed to bouts of extreme anger and disrespect” not being enrolled as attorney, after the SCA decided that he was not a fit and proper person to serve as such. What I really enjoyed was a suggestion that the admission of adv Mpofu, SC, be reviewed on the same basis!
  • More on trustees: our system of registering trusts has become incredibly slow, compared to some years back. One wonders how the change to the Trust Property Control Act will be implemented – if the garnering of information is left to the Master, undoubtedly such registrations will take much, much longer.
  • The KZN Health Department is said to have medical malpractice suits outstanding to the tune of R17bn. The question is whether this department has kept the source documents necessary to defend itself, whether it can afford to defend itself and, indeed, to pay if not successful in doing so.
  • A small note on SUI probes of 102 law firms over duplicate payments from the RAF, surprised me. A part of the report said that the SUI had managed to recover R18m through acknowledgement of debt processes. Any attorney who runs a functioning rudimentary bookkeeping system, would immediately pick up such overpayments. To spend these overpayments and have to pay these back in instalments can only mean that the practitioners concerned, had dipped into trust funds for their own benefit. This, in my book, should result in a serious retribution by the LPC. But then, this institution is good only for sending us hundreds of notices and little else.
  • CIPC had launched an untested e-services and Bizportal platform in January this year, in an attempt to move away from a declining method of payment (credit cards!). Regrettably, these platforms were dysfunctional and CIPC business ground to a complete halt. CIPC re-migrated and I gather that the new systems will be redesigned… ‘Nuff said.
  • The Master’s office, Pietermaritzburg was on strike last week.


Hard news:

  • The appointment of a curator bonis, for a mentally incapable, person does not have the effect of lifting the impediment imposed by sections 12 and 13 of the Prescription Act:
  • Is the director of a company, who acts reasonably, honestly and in the interest of the company liable to shareholders, if his business judgement leads to disaster? I hold an article by Beja on the topic – ask me for a copy.




Two interesting debates surfaced this week:


The first was precipitated by Gareth Cliff’s reaction to students striking for free education. So, should students study for free? Dispassionately, probably yes, as greater education releases the potential for greater achievement into society. Pragmatically, the cost of such studies costs matter. As far as I could establish, only Scandinavian countries offer general free tertiary education for citizens, most, if not all other countries, would provide financial assistance (bursaries or funding universities directly) but not free tertiary education for all. The difference, primarily, lies in the number of taxpayers in a country, tax rates and unemployment. If you look at our unemployment rate and the number of direct taxpayers in South Africa, such a scheme here is not achievable.


California is inching its way towards financial reparation for descendants of slaves and those subjected to racism. The estimated sum that will be paid, is $360 000 per person. Aside from the question of whether throwing money at past hurt and present crime prevention, is wise, the demographics of that state is such that such a scheme is affordable; only some 6% of Californians are black and many of those would not be eligible. A Seffrican friend of mine, holds the view that whites should have pay a one-off reparations tax which should be distributed amongst those discriminated against and that thereafter, all discrimination should be done away with. Interesting.


Oh yes, breaking news is that the formerly once-resigned Tshwane mayor, probably falsified his rehabilitation order and resigned (again) when this became public. Whatever; appointing a once-sequestrated gentleman as a public representative, indirectly in charge of public funds, is questionable, but, if the latest reports are true, presenting a representative who stoops to such, reprehensible.



“Government respects the rights of trade unions to organise and the rights of members to embark on peaceful and lawful protests, including pickets and strikes.”

“It is the commitment of government to ensure that these hard fought for rights are discharged in a manner that does not disrupt service delivery, especially in relation to essential services such as health.”

All talk and no enforcement.


“We are, therefore, working to build a public service staffed by men and women who are professional, skilled, selfless and honest.” Ramaphosa

you must be kidding me: those led are expected to display qualities that their leaders, demonstrably, do not have.


Action expresses priorities.



Lighten up

On the lack of strategy (think politicians):

  • all sizzle and no steak;
  • all f@rt and no tu@rd;
  • all broth and no beef;


You will recall that much mirth was generated by a social media note that Botswana had appointed a minister of ports; when called out on this, the retort was that South Africa had a minister of electricity! But wait, there is more: we have a solicitor general…but no solicitors.















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