November 14th, 2022 | Business, Economics, Practice

General news:

  • Shades of Mr Zuma: the Mkwebane application for leave to appeal, whilst awaiting a Concourt decision, and her representative’s argument that her suspension is an act of cruelty, followed by Adv Mpofu’s withdrawal is wrong on so many fundamental levels…?
  • A private members’ Bill to recognise Muslim marriages, will be tabled this month. This follows on a Concourt decision in June that our divorce laws are unconstitutional as they did not provide mechanisms to safeguard the welfare of minors in Muslim marriages.
  • Many of us are appointed executors and avoid having to buy executor bonds via the LPIF insurance arrangement. Convenient, but a serious pain in the ass as the Fund requires a status report every month.

 

Hard news:

 

Property news:

  • A Deeds Registries Amendment Bill has been published. Of particular interest is a requirement that any Registrar of Deeds requires a Dip Iuris or similar diploma, and the Bill provides for the registration of land tenure rights, which will be an innovation.
  • The latest De Rebus has an article on the virtual commissioning of oaths, worth a look.
  • Estate agents and the Fidelity fund certificates are dealt with in http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAKZPHC/2022/63.html
  • Pre-emptive rights: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAKZPHC/2022/63.html

 

Case law:

  • The interaction between the current system of administering estates and that which applied under the Black Administration Act is dealt with in a Concourt case Denga v Anorld – not yet available on the Saflli system. Unremarkable, unless this is a particular interest of yours – ask me for a copy.
  • Is a pactum de non petendo contrary to public policy: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZASCA/2022/144.html

 

Property

 

Positive news: Propertywheel reports that estate and sectional title sales are trending upwards as a percentage of total residential sales, since 2018, against the background of a drop in the number of residential properties purchased over the same period. Interestingly, whilst the number of such sales has fallen, the total value involved has risen; it appears that a premium is charged for such properties, compared to the average price of non-estate/sectional sales.

 

Negative news is that –

  • Spear, a REIT, will be dis-investing from hospitality assets: the reason therefor is not explained but one can imagine…
  • The spike in our interest rates has resulted in a drop in deeds office registration volumes and selling homes, as a last resort for cash-strapped homeowners, is on the cards. Only Realty Group warns against this, saying that such sellers lose sight of the side-costs of acquiring property and selling (i.e., conveyancing fees, taxes and estate agent commissions).

 

What to do in bad times? Those-would-sell-us-properties, argue that where equities are under pressure, real estate is a means of storing value. With stagflation on the horizon, they say, existing homes should appreciate in value owing to a drop in the supply of completed homes. Probably correct, but academic for those who cannot afford hanging on.

 

Leaving your life-partner with whom you purchased a property? Read this: https://www.golegal.co.za/actio-communi-dividundo/

 

Legal stuff:

 

Economy

 

Depending on whom you listen to, our economic growth over the next three years, will be something like 1.9%, 1.4% and 1.7%. To alleviate poverty in South Africa, we need a growth rate of some 5%. Capish? The good news is that our debt-to-GDP ratio is predicted to peak next year at 71.4% easing to 63% in 2030.

At the same time, we have salesmen (think estate agents, investors and the like) talking up a recovery in our economy. Yes, to an extent. The fact is that we do not have the money to kickstart a development-led recovery, let alone spend money on abandoned SOEs. Of late you would have seen central government taking over debt due by –

  • Eskom (a third to two thirds of R400bn).
  • Sanral (reportedly R23bn. Outa claims this as a victory but the result was inevitable).

The list of must-do projects is long – school-spend amounts to some R12bn annually and more is required to fix that which does not work. Transnet is on the ropes – it’s Freight Rail is losing customers by the day and its infrastructure maintenance is underfunded and hampered by theft, vandalism and sabotage.

Our government preached the principle that the user must pay but has abandons this (when convenient (in favour of a fuzzy socialist agenda (the initial idea with the Gauteng toll-roads was that the users would pay. If central government takes over this debt you have the farmer in Lydenburg contributing to taxes that were payable by Gauteng – whether this is fair or not depends on how you argue the issue). Government also bows to social pressure such as writing off R5bn of Soweto electricity debt due to Eskom as it is socially (read politically) okay for those users not to pay for what they use.

The fact is that we are collecting less money than we need at local and central level. Yet, our ministers are ambitious way beyond their means – to change to green-friendly energy is unimaginably beyond our state finance available. Pragmatically, whichever way you cut this, the only sustainable and cheap power always-available sources of electricity are hydro- and nuclear-generation. Ours is a dry country – go figure.

In any event, to return to the issue, much of the grand planning mooted by our government will depend on tax-income being maintained, users paying for what they use and so on. These principles have not been adhered to until now – so, what is going to be different? Clearly, a new dawn is promised!

 

For those of us who thought that the Treasury was some sort of bulwark against government excess: it failed to submit its financial statements to Parliament by end September. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

 

A Moneyweb report says that the Sharemax implosion is now being investigated by CIPC and that our Reserve Bank may come in for criticism. The fact is that more than 10 years after this debacle, investors have not yet been rewarded by the directors of that institution being held accountable for what appears to be Banks Act contraventions.

 

Speaking of salesmen talking up our economic recovery – Anchor Capital says that our shares are cheap and that some of our shares on the JSE may rally up to 16% over the next year!

 

Finally, Treasury reports that personal taxpayers are up from 2 to 2.5 million with 28% of the taxes recovered from these paid by 1.8% of registered taxpayers. However, the number of individual taxpayers has not grown in proportion to our general population increase.

 

Business

 

The ABF…for now: the illegal conversion of Toyota Quantum panel vans to taxies – so it is said – will come to an end before February next year, with those owning such to be compensated by the state. That this has continued for 15 years and that the “recapitalisation” process under minister Mbalula has been delayed (for several years) is neither here nor there; “implementation challenges” in issuing valid operating licences needed to be dealt with. Not for the first time, one might add – in 2012, a re-capitalisation programme for taxies was introduced, but was not a runaway success! Of course, this time around operator willingness and departmental ability to pay, will hold firm.

 

The so-called RTGS system (real-time gross settlement) has been adopted in our economy, says the SARB. I confess to being short on detail, but wonderful things are being said about the system, amongst others that this will pave the way for faster payments by the introduction of (another acronym) the RPP (Rapid Payments Program) and the usual words i.e., growth, proliferation, cost-effective et cetera.

 

More promises: FlySafair anticipates a drop in locals flight prices to familiar levels by February next year.

 

A statistic that greatly surprised me was that some 55,000 grey import vehicles come into South Africa yearly. This is more than the number of cars sold monthly. Amazingly, the biggest gateway for such imports is Durban harbour, these being used vehicles imported from developed markets. The good news is that in a couple of years we will be importing more electric vehicles this way than will be sold through regular outlets – maybe!

 

Two notes appeared on employee law:

 

Finally, reports have been circulating on an initiative, introduced by 4 Day Week SA, that we should be moving away from a time-based employment output to a productivity-based working week (in which you do five day’s work in four) and which is punted as would increase business productivity, better employee health and build a sustainable working environment. Before this kicks off, employees will be subjected to a two-week intensive onboarding program to ready them for the trial… Fun, imagine our Home Affairs adopting this…

 

Comment

Should science or research be politicised? The obvious answer is no but, in fact, this does happen. Funders for non-PC research is hard to find (as the funder might be seen promoting such work) and, increasingly, information on these is restricted. Education is politicised in that children are taught what the state deems proper. Business is politicised in our country in that the state prescribes who you should employ. The EE Amendment Bill does not, like in the past, prescribe the conduct of companies that only do business with the state – it now reaches beyond that. The nub of this is that such prescriptions are undesirable but are a fact of life.

 

I grew up with the knowledge that a civil servant (in Britain) was beyond politics in the sense that civil servants did the business of government but was led by a politician. Politicians came and went but the civil servants ensured continuity of procedure and preserved, what is these days termed institutional memory. The fact is that political parties need to reward politicians in some manner (and ensure that a particular policy is implemented) and the obvious implementation is to appoint loyalists in positions of leadership. In South Africa this is termed “cadre deployment”, a not unusual practice, but infamous locally because loyalty overrode merit, and the result was to virtually destroy public institutions. So, I doubt that cadre deployment will end, but one would welcome merit as a requirement for public service appointments. The difficulty is that the latter will happen within the framework of EE – which does not change what we are doing much. But it sure sounds good.

 

Lighten up

 

We live in a strange country. A colourful (rainbow) pedestrian crossing in Cape Town has been criticised because it celebrates the LGBTIQ+ community. The fact is that other countries have such crossings also and that Cape Town is, notoriously, our most pink city. Persons of such a persuasion is part of society – get used to it.