Economic review


South Africa has dropped twelve places on the Economic Freedom of the World Index, indicating a loss of competitiveness and worsening living conditions. We are now ranked 105th out of 159 states.


The Momentum/Unisa Household Financial Wellness survey has indicated a drop in the number of South African financially well households and a concomitant rise in those distressed or financially unstable.


I read with some regret that Comair has dropped its case against the Treasury’s decision to grant SAA another lifeline. How does one compete against a competitor that makes continued unsustainable losses, yet is rescued from the public purse?


Spirited!: Zimbabwean Pentecostal churches are now installing debit card machines to allow congregants to pay their tithes. Let’s face it, these guys understand finances. Imagine going to the church for mass and swiping as you pass through. Amen.


Business review


Hate or love him: Noakes has proposed a barometer labelling the sugar and carbohydrate content of food. This has attracted some attention and we must wait to see whether business picks up on this.


In 2011 an error in our tax laws resulted in personal liability companies being excluded from being small businesses for tax purposes. This is set to be corrected but, in addition, the Treasury has been asked to backdate the correction to 2011. This would allow small companies such as doctors, attorneys, accountants and architects to benefit from the lower tax rates that they should have in the past, but for the error. I am probably cynical, but I would not hold my breath.


It is interesting to see everyone ganging up on Uber: now the city of London intends giving benefits to taxis that Uber hires will not enjoy. Factually, Uber shifted the goalposts and made use of existing, cheaper facilities and technology. There is no reason why others should not adopt a similar model instead of the old order subsidising those who will not adapt.


Have you ever wondered why you seem to pick the queue which takes the longest at the supermarket till? The solution:


Property review


This week past TMJ hosted the first of a series of training seminars for estate agents. Judging from the response, I can recommend training offered by SAREA. I was particularly interested by a formula that was given which allows an agent to calculate how many listings he requires in order to earn a certain amount; in this case break-even. The formula goes like this:

Text Box: sum required to break even
  Average comm

Listings =         X  Factor


The term “factor” refers to your conversion rate of listings to sales



The FNB/BER Building Confidence Index has improved to 38 points (given that 50/100 points is neutral, this is not a great shakes). Loos says that we should not read too much into this.


VBS Mutual Bank has stolen a march on other commercial banks in South Africa by granting a loan president Zuma. It also grants loans on so-called PTO properties i.e. properties on tribal lands where the occupier does not have ownership. There is a huge market out there, provided one can secure the loan. I’m quite curious, real security (as in mortgaged property) is not possible in such circumstances. One presumes that the bank lends on the assumption that the owner would have built for cash and is therefore reasonably flush. What makes Zuma’s case interesting is that, given the borrower’s age, the repayments must be unaffordably high if the intent is that the repayment must be made before the borrower’s death. If not, then one can only lend by binding other family members or on the understanding that other benefits would flow towards the bank. In this respect, I gather that this bank is now propositioning KZN municipalities for their accounts…

Suspicions aside, this presents a real opportunity for estate agents to market within the former tribal trust areas.


Putprop, the former investment company of the listed bus transport operator Putco, says that the local office rental sector remains under severe pressure with very high vacancy rates and low yields. It says that asking rentals have, in some areas, been discounted by 24%.



Practice review


Unrepentant and on appeal: it will be interesting to see how head of the NPA, Abrahams, will deal with the two under his command that have been found unfit to practice as advocates. At the time of his appointment he denied allegiance to any person. He is dealing with the crisis on hand will determine the perceptions held by practitioners of his tenure.


Recognition of the Muslim marriages: lawyers representing women’s rights organisations have given the Cabinet a deadline to bring an Act of Parliament, recognising all such marriages as valid, within a year. High time.


The LSSA launched an application in the High Court, Gauteng, declaring the actions of our government in ratifying the SABC tribunal to disputes only between member states (and no longer between individual citizens and states) to be unconstitutional. This case will be heard later this month. If successful farmers in Zimbabwe would have claims against the government of that country.




Does Act 70/70 prevent partitioning of land?


No, not necessarily.



Trust dealings


Trusts are not legal persons. The trustees may only validly act in terms of the founding document of a trust. If an outsider acts on behalf of the trust without a resolution preceding that act, a nullity follows.



Garnishee orders


If you require a copy of the constitutional court case in which the issue of garnishee orders was dealt with this week, ask me for a copy.


Are rental “screening fees ” legal?


Screening fees are fees charged to a tenant by estate agents in order to do a background check on them in order to recommend them – or not – to a prospective landlord. If you want the rental you pay the fee.


Clauses limiting delictual claims in contracts


If I insert a clause in a contract saying that you must act within a certain time if you wish to hold me yes, but the party in favour of whom delictually liable or limiting the sum that you may claim; is this legal? Yes, note that the party in favour of whom such a clause exists must plead and prove that the other is outside the limits of the limiting clauses.





The following is for those of our profession who confuse rigour with brashness:

When you meet your antagonist, do everything in a mild and agreeable manner. Let your courage be as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword.




I picked up on a comment by Cohen, that the battle for State control will, like all wars do, gradually diminish us all. True, but possibly even worse.


Anthropocene: this is our current Epoch which is said to have commenced in about 1750. The previous Epoch is the Halocene and stretches back some 11 ½ thousand years. The current epoch is defined by human domination of the Earth’s physical and natural environment. Call it climate change.


Knobkierrie Brigade:King Goodwill Zwelethini has offered to set up a team to help heads of higher education institutions with the difficulties that they currently have. I have little doubt that his team will be more effective than the police.


On perception: last week I commented upon unlikely heroes i.e. in that case McBride. Below is a Zapiro cartoon reflecting the current hero, our Minister of finance. A Communist…

In similar vein: some 20 years ago much was said about the appointment of black judges. Looking back on the events of the week past, they have done us proud.


Lighten up


A Pole is having his eyesight tested. The optician shows a wallchart with the letters: CKOPVWXSCZY.

“Can you read that?”

“Read it? I know the guy!”


Q: How do you know if you’re in front of a Polish firing squad?

A: They are standing in a circle.


Het zoontje van een rijke sjeik gaat naar zijn vader en vraagt geld om kauwgom te kopen. - Daar hou ik mij niet mee bezig, jongen, vraag het maar aan je moeder, die dame daar, de zesde van links.   


He (sitting at the computer):”When I die I’m going to leave everything to you, my love!”

She (from the kitchen): “You already do, you lazy bastard!”