The Chairman’s Conversation: Triggering a Groot Trek of productive knowledge out of SA?

Stark dividing lines on the economy and the future of the country were drawn during the Chairman’s Conversation when Johann Rupert of Richemont, Remgro & Reinet was interviewed by Given Mkhari of the MSG Afrika Group.  The Black Management Forum called for controlling the “levers of legislation to determine what happens with capital, opportunities and business prospects” (state control of the economy) with Rupert hinting that “it would be quite easy to lose interest: South Africa has one last chance…

On talk radio, news websites and social media reactions rolled in, many calling Rupert “racist”, “paternalistic” and even “an arrogant ignorant” whilst others concurred with his comments about the young chasing BMWs and immediate satisfaction,  rather than patiently building their businesses and wealth.

The event and the reactions thereto is far more than a storm in a tea cup and one that the whole business community should take note of, as well as every company and politician that had attended the recent Investment Summit. 

The contours of the Chairman’s Conversation, the few comments from the floor and the tsunami of social media condemnation reminded me of a period in world history that had changed and influenced (almost) everything since then. My sense is that both Rupert and the BMF reckon South Africa is at the brink of society-shaking change as well.  That change does not necessarily bode well for the future of South Africa…

Continue reading “The Chairman’s Conversation: Triggering a Groot Trek of productive knowledge out of SA?”

SheNenegans and zol clouds: Summits almost like old-age home talent concerts

Government has developed a fool proof strategy to divert (most) attention from its frenetic fumbling of the economy that they had successfully put on full-throttle reverse.

The Job Summit’s rehearsed pitches and agreements to create jobs (almost as if jobs can be manufactured like overalls), to minimise retrenchments and to buy local,  reminds one of the annual retirement village talent concert: nothing new, innovative or inspiring. Rather old hat. It solicited respectful applause, but thankfully Nhlanhla Nene (ably assisted by Julius Malema and by the grace of the Guptas) diverted attention from the dreary Summit.

One has to give it to the ANC:  just as the Job Summit was obscured by sheNenegans, the previous big building block – the Emergency Stimulus Package – was enveloped by a court verdict releasing thick aromatic clouds of “Personal stimulus by zol”.  That high successfully obscured the regurgitating of empty promises of yesterday’s infrastructure development plans.

Can Trevor Noah develop such a script? Continue reading “SheNenegans and zol clouds: Summits almost like old-age home talent concerts”

Economic freedom globally up but SA tumbles down

ECONOMIC FREEDOM in South Africa deteriorates rapidly. The country has tumbled 12 places and is now firmly embedded in the bottom half of the 162 countries and territories evaluated in the Economic Freedom of the World: 2018 Annual Report. This report by the Fraser Institute confirmed SA’s decline from position 82 to 94 due to anti-freedom policies and practices.

In 2003 SA almost made it into the most-free quartile ranking gaining position 45.  Now the country is a 3rd quartile fixture, being three consecutive years in the bottom half.

The Economic Freedom of the World Report  is the world’s premier measurement of economic freedom, evaluating and ranking countries in five areas: size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labour and business. (See full report).

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Turning ad hoc-decisions into “add havoc” decisions: Updated prospectus shows SA has much “emerging” to do…

If the Ramaphosa quest for pursuing economic growth and restoring full investment status for South Africa was packaged as a new venture in January it would have received substantial interest. In light of the tsunami of promises about FDI since then, it may be time to look at an updated “prospectus”.

Indicator: Economic growth is the highest priority

In his “New Deal” Ramaphosa promised to keep “an unrelenting focus on growth”. He stated: “We must be bold and determined. We should be targeting 3 percent GDP growth in 2018 rising to 5 percent growth by 2023.”

Prospectus update:

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The Messenger (25 July 2018)

Continue reading “Turning ad hoc-decisions into “add havoc” decisions: Updated prospectus shows SA has much “emerging” to do…”

Salary offer to civil servants: stark contrast to leadership in Botswana & the Netherlands

A higher than inflation salary increase for the public sector against the growing mountain of losses recorded in Company tax returns, does not signal an urgency for effective governance and economic stability to change from an environment where crime offers better returns than business. Important players in Government (and the ANC) appear not to grasp decisions and actions have systemic consequences.

SARS CIT assessments

South Africa’s public service salary bill consumes, according to Prof Jannie Rossouw of Wits Business School, about 45% of tax revenue. A 2017 OECD report found South Africa’s public service wage bill exceeded 14% of GDP: substantially higher than the benchmark of OECD and Emerging Market countries.

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Investment ambassadors can try, but SA company losses exceed taxable income

Pres Ramaphosa’s announcement that four special ambassadors – including well respected Trevor Manuel – are to roam the globe in an aggressive pursuit of foreign investment  “… like a pack of lions”, appears to be premature. It would have helped these ambassadors if they could have had a better story to tell than one of a business environment with stagnating profitability and growing losses where:

  • only 25% of firms have earned sufficient to be liable for company tax;
  • firms with a taxable income below R10 million decline at a rate of 31 per week;
  • a mere 635 companies are responsible for 77% of company tax;
  • from 2009 to 2015 company losses as submitted to SARS increased by 85% and for the last two years were higher than the taxable income assessed.

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