Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

This is still the Cape of Storms.                                                      

Last week we had spring tides and this weeks we experienced devastating storms. This past long-weekend we have had widespread thunderstorms, gale-force winds and heavy rain across the Cape Province and it even spread into some of our neighbouring provinces. The storms have caused havoc & destruction such as we haven’t seen before. Massive mudslides down mountains, roads & bridges washed away, homes flooded, shacks flattened.  The rain damage isolated towns and villages and even Cape Town was blocked off along its the northern arteries. Then the N2 was ‘no go’ on Tuesday morning for those of us trying to get into the City. We were all actually warned to stay off the roads as much as possible. 

I cannot remember a winter like this ever—so consistently cold and wet.

The weather brought grim distress and a naval catastrophe at the end of last week that made sad news. Three navy officers on a submarine, (not properly  certified) doing routine manoeuvres in Cape waters were washed off the deck and drowned. A helicopter had been delivering to the sub that had surfaced to receive the goods. Fingers are being pointed at a lack of training and of carelessness in the stormy conditions which  prevailed. But as explained, you can’t choose only good weather to train naval staff. Still the whole affair was unnecessary and lacked the professionalism that one would expect from trained officers. The ‘papers carried full reports on this sad event.
One of the fatalities was the highest ranked female officer in the navy.

The surprise in all the sadness was the news that at least one of our three submarines is, at last, operational and we still have people who know how to operate them.

On Tuesday morning we learnt that 9 people, in separate townships were fatally electrocuted during the flooding due to illegal electricity connections in water-logged homes. And a bus overturned on a Cape Town suburban road killing three and scattering the 35 passengers onto the sopping wet road. Was this due to careless driving in the rainy conditions or the unbelievably strong wind?

As I write three people are still missing after the storms.

15,000 Cape citizens are without power because of the storms. 

Tom Eaton, in his column in Business Day pointed out that in SA, natural disasters hit the poor first and hardest, and leave far deeper and longer-lasting injuries than they do to the insured middle class. 

Reina, from New York, (Ex Stellenbosch) wrote to me pointing out that there is an appeal from ‘Eagle Encounters’ a charity looking after owls and eagles which have been very badly affected by the storms. They are appealing for any kind of help at all.

Alex Hogg of BizNews spoke with Rob Hersov again last week. Hersov is outspoken and not afraid to talk truth to power. He had a “full go” at the ANC’s BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) policy—the disgusting racist business policy that favours blacks over all others. The main problem with BEE is that it is such a continuing failure due to favouring cadres and because of it foreign investment in this country has all but dried up. Nobody other than the ANC cabinet & its cadres will disagree with Hersov on this.

Hersov used Elon Musk’s Starlink as an example of what SA is missing because of the continuing corruption in the Ruling Party and their BEE policy. Starlink, which is Musk’s high speed internet connectivity business, could be used to teach poor kids, most of whom receive little or no eduction, world class education in their homes without them having even to go to school. Hersov points out that the teachers are generally seriously sub-standard in the poor neighbourhoods.

This government must be kicked out as soon as possible! 

It gets repetitive, I know, but without urgent reforms we are doomed. Transnet has no funds and the country desperately needs it to get going. SAA is back in the air but it cost R50 billion to do so and actually we don’t need it. There are plenty of other airlines servicing our routes, thank you. It is a Pravin Gordhan vanity project and I used to have such respect for this Minister.

The Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana was sent back to rework his projections after telling the cabinet to cut back radically on spending. He is trying to find plans to satisfy both the angry unions and the cabinet, but changes will come, whether they like it or not. SA is teetering on the financial brink. It needs R16 billion per month to service its interest dept and it looks as if Godongwana will have no option but to hike taxes left, right & centre.

Are we economically free? The Fraser Institute recently published its annual list of countries most free to most taxed. Singapore heads the list while SA with our already tax burden ranks 94th out of the 165 countries rated. That is the reason for our poor rating. The rest of the best top 10 in order are, Hongkong, Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, Ireland,Denmark, Australia, Britain & Canada.

Expect a further slide down the freedom ladder in next year’s rating. See this sad cartoon from Brandan in yesterday’s Business Day:

On the criminality ratings list issued by the UN, SA ranks 7 out of 193. With what we see going on all around us every day I am surprised we are not 1.

In Johannesburg more fires have broken out in Municipal buildings where many “foreigners” live. The Municipal manager believes it is the work of arsonists. He believes the city is under siege by gangsters.

Several suburbs in Johannesburg have been without water for days and weeks. Promises get made and nothing happens and frustration soon becomes anger. And yes, protests begin and criminality becomes part of it.

The very busy William Nicol Drive in Sandton, Johannesburg has had a name change. It is now the Winnie Mandela Drive. Politicians and the First Lady were there for the official renaming and the cutting of the ribbon but not one opposition councillor was present. What a waste of money! The new mayor was there to be part of the action, but he missed the meeting with the disgruntled residents asking for water. This is Mangena’s cartoon from Africa News Agency :

Last night I went, with the world champion’s best friend, Bev, to see The Promise on stage. I read Damon Galgut’s book of the same title as soon as I saw it won The Booker Prize and I was incredibly impressed. The play was BRILLIANT, the cast was outstanding and the story totalling compelling.

We both felt that any of the actors could be nominated for the actor of the year. The story is political and necessarily long (almost 3 hours on stage) but worth every minute.

The rugby was the big event of the weekend. The two top rated teams in the world played each other in the pool round of the World Cup in Paris. What a game! The couch was full; the regulars were ready and waiting and enjoyed a classic battle where we outplayed Ireland but lost the game because of the desperately poor kicking at goal.

It’s not the end of the road for the Springboks though, we can still qualify for the knock-out rounds and retain their trophy.

On Sunday afternoon I was on my own to watch the North London football derby when Arsenal (the Gunners) played Tottenham Hotspur. Twice my favourite team came from behind to earn a hard fought draw against a team, which like Spurs, has yet to lose a league game this season. As always,                                                                                     


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