There is little fresh that a layperson (yes, I am PC) can say about our economy which has not been aired in the past week. What remains is to step back – consider the following graph drawn from Statista:
This, accompanied by our debt service costs, drawn from the web, i.e.:
do not paint a particularly rosy picture. My understanding is that our debt/GDP ratio currently sits at about 70% and is expected to stabilise at about 74% with 77% being the maximum sustainable ratio. So far, so good? Perhaps not; Bisseker, writing for BusinessDay, raised the spectre that all may not be as it seems when it comes to dealing with national debt? Judge for yourself: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/columnists/2023-02-28-claire-bisseker-budgetary-sleight-of-hand-hides-true-fiscal-picture/
On another topic: some of the more unflattering information, on our state of affairs, is statistically hidden: the number of unemployed persons in South Africa increased from 4.7 million at the end of 2012 to 7.8 million in the last quarter of last year.
Yet, there is good news!
- Our Sentinel Retirement Fund was ranked 11th overall out of 72 funds and performed best of all: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/daan-steenkamp-48a42520_a-global-comparison-of-pension-funds-that-activity-7034844483271692288-IDXd
- A Grant Thornton International Business Report found that our business leaders are optimistic about business profitability and investment this year.
- PwC says that South Africa has become an increasingly tax-friendly destination for foreign businesses, on par with multi and Switzerland. Who would have thought?
There is little remarkable that I came across which would change one’s approach to business – mostly prosaic news:
- the best online computer store appears to be https://www.dreamwaretech.co.za/
- de Beers may well be dumped as the primary Botswana diamond extractor;
- minimum domestic servants’ salaries for eight hours-daily-file weekdays work are now R4100;
- a technical recession is on the cards for SA; what does one pay if one retrenches? https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/664399/what-the-law-says-about-severance-pay-in-south-africa-2/
- emigrating financially? Consider Mauritius – no death duties are levied.
- an MBA graduate earns twice what a BA degree holder does;
- new car prices are on the rise and our Rand/$ weakness will exacerbate this;
- Pick n Pay will accept payment in bitcoin;
- if you earn R20100 per month, you will be beyond the earnings threshold which gives protection under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act; and
- PSG has been named South Africa’s best asset manager.
Two snippets of moderately interesting news are:
- Deloitte paid Tongaat a R260m settlement to rid itself of the threat of prosecution for the dereliction of its duties: on a no-fault basis of course. That kind of money for no fault? Serious chutzpah.
- The latest is that the Department of Employment and Labour has established a task team to target employment practices in our informal economy! It is said that the current South African labour laws are not adequately addressing employment conditions for workers in the informal economy sector. Sure; but good luck with that!
An evergreen question is when one should buy a house or whether it is better renting? The turbulent times we live in has scared off many would-be purchasers. Nevertheless, sales volumes of residential houses have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Some interesting notes on housing are:
- on average house prices have lagged behind inflation, with price growth down to 2.7% year on year in January – average price growth is expected to be around 2% this year;
- Pretoria is said to offer the cheapest housing – compared to the average income of locals;
- house sales nationally are slowing but are picking up in our five major metros;
- rentals have increased by some 3.4% year-on-year;
- when it comes to buying, compared to renting, the following graph might be useful:
Many of us are now working from home and one’s instinctive reaction is to deduct office costs from your home rentals/bond as it gives an immediate tax recoupment. Consider the long-term result of doing this: https://www.iol.co.za/personal-finance/tax/deducting-home-office-expenses-from-your-taxable-income-can-cost-you-later-91e0994b-9c1c-4bcc-92a0-472a4d9ae53d
Not my fault! A result of the recent floods was that many (informal) houses were washed away – the Premier of Mpumalanga had little sympathy, saying that many residents had settled into (below?) flood lines thereby violating spatial laws that regulate land management.
One could reasonably ask whether the duties of this gentleman did not include preventing such settlement?
Transfer duty thresholds have been adjusted upwards.
Lastly; when buying a house from the State, payment deferral is problematical. An exception is deferred ownership – which has been around for probably 20 years and is marketed by a Cape Town conveyancer – take a look: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/news/deferred-ownership-pilot-project-breakthrough-home-ownership-market
And lastly: Nummawan and the Jacob G Zuma Foundation has put in a land claim with the Department of whatever and Rural Development for the whole of South Africa. He says that black people have occupied the whole of South Africa since 500CE. Different. Whatever one says of this gentleman, as an invalid, his stamina is remarkable.
Information regarding general practice, which became available in the past 10 days or so is:
- A Free State judge has been charged with RAF fraud. The Eastern Cape JP is being investigated for sexual harassment.
- The anti-money laundering act imposes duties on trustees of trusts to keep records of beneficial ownership with the Master who will keep a register of that information. Wait for it.
- Family Advocates are employed by the state to ensure that dependent children are cared for in family disputes: https://www.golegal.co.za/functions-family-advocate/
- What happens when a patient’s goods are stolen by hospital staff? (Apparently, not much) https://www.golegal.co.za/employee-hospital-theft/
- The Financial Services Ombud Schemes Act provides that ombud rulings are also based on equity – not just law. https://www.golegal.co.za/ombud-insurer-liable/
- Must you prosecute a claim expeditiously? https://www.derebus.org.za/superannuation-a-common-law-remedy/
- In my last edition I reported on a case in the Eastern Cape in which a claim, for damages against a public healthcare provider, ended up in an order for the provision of future healthcare. More on the topic: https://www.webberwentzel.com/News/Pages/insurance-informer-the-common-law-on-claims-against-public-health-institutions-takes-a-step-forward.aspx
- The RAF continues to be in the news with an advisory on medical tariffs imposed by the Minister of Transport that has been challenged in the Constitutional Court. Ask me for a copy of the advisory.
- This week the RAF will lodge an application in Gauteng to have the 180-day suspension of payments to claimants extended for another 12 months. Broke.
- Does prescription run if the debtor changes his address and does not advise the creditor? https://www.macrobert.co.za/insights/posts/the-effect-of-a-consumers-change-of-address-on-a-plea-of-prescription
- In South Africa you cannot claim for mental stress if goods fail on you: https://caf.co.za/can-you-sue-for-mental-anguish-resulting-from-a-breach-of-contract/
- The following article puts forward a compelling argument for sharing the financial benefits of a marriage, even if married out of community of property – I know of several overseas jurisdictions in which a form of accrual/community of property is imposed by legislation: https://www.derebus.org.za/the-antenuptial-contract-incorporating-or-excluding-accrual-resulting-in-s-73-of-the-divorce-act-being-applicable/
- A trial within a correctional centre does not necessarily impinge upon a person’s right to a fair trial: https://www.golegal.co.za/accused-fair-trial/
- A dissenting shareholder can compel a company to buy his shares: https://caf.co.za/dissenting-shareholders-appraisal-rights/
- Potholes are the order of the day – can you claim damages if you bend your car as a result? https://www.dotnews.co.za/Code/Article.aspx
- There is a difference between a landlord’s common law tacit hypothec for the payment of rental and his security under the Insolvency Act: https://journals.ufs.ac.za/index.php/jjs/article/view/6569/4523
- If it matters who rents from you, consider a no-cession clause in leases: https://www.derebus.org.za/why-should-you-care-about-cession-clauses-in-lease-agreements/
- ChatGPT is much in the news of late – copyright when a computer thinks for you and draws randomly from the net, could be a problem: https://www.webberwentzel.com/News/Pages/what-you-need-to-know-about-chatgpt-and-copyright.aspx
- A re-alignment of the boundaries between the Pretoria and Johannesburg Deeds Registries has been announced in Government Notice 3107/2023.
- A judgement, on an obligation to build imposed by a home owners Association, is available: http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2023/35.html
- Praedial or personal servitude? http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2023/35.html
- The transfer duty threshold is up by R100k to R1.1m and higher deeds registration taxes will kick in on 1 April.
- The Spluma dispute in Emalahleni is en route to the Constitutional Court – the end is even not in sight!
Treasonous dead man walking and go(uer)rillas in office: De Ruyter blew the lid off the Eskom feeding trough; a reporting frenzy followed as well as further “evidence” of blatant theft, sabotage and political interference. Writers were quick to hail even an Azanian Spring following on state failure. The accused party called for evidence, reports to Parliament, made accusations of political bias and so on. Parliament take action – perish the thought. If de Ruyter brought serious evidence to the table, I would not be surprised if he were to meet up with a so Seffrican-style accident; calling on him to lay charges and testify, is disingenuous because he is unlikely to do so.
Because you owe us: liberation movements in Africa, which ushered in democracy, were typically led by idealists who, on attaining victory, suffered a lapse of mission drive, which in politics, slid into one party states, and on occasion authoritarian, and often kleptocratic regimes. Successes amongst these are Namibia and, possibly South Africa, with Zimbabwe at the other end of the scale. The difficulty with such regimes is that ex-guerrillas hold on to solidarity beyond respect for democracy, which, in a parliamentary system, allows the elite to benefit at the expense of society which owes them, whilst being protected by a parliamentary majority!
The attributes of a guerrilla fighter are very different from that of a political governor. Rewarding personal sacrifices with office (I did not join the struggle to be poor) may be understandable, but hardly makes for effective governance.
Son number one left the safety of the first world for the experience to be had in a volatile economy. A choice of learning curve now borne out by our Reserve Bank Governor suggesting that advanced economies should look here for advice on dealing with high inflation and debt. Somehow, I doubt that Europe will avail itself of the invitation.
Lawyer: did you kill him?
Lawyer: do you know what the punishment is for committing perjury?
Me: (muttering) much less than murder.
Lawyer: A person that writes a 1000-word document and calls it a brief.
Law: The only game where the best players get to sit on the bench.
A picture is worth a thousand words?
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