Dear Reader: Ideas are non-racial

Knowledge – science – and ideas (even the bad ones) travel, and “belong” exclusively to no race, nation or religion. Those who make scientific “discoveries” or formulate new ideas invariably find, if they bother to look, that they are standing on the shoulders of scientists and thinkers who have gone before them.

This month a contributor goes back 100 years to investigate the origins of a famous speech, still often quoted, by ANC founder-member Pixley Seme, only to find that good, worthy ideas about the liberation of black Africa were not exclusive to black people, even then.

Another contributor introduces Noseweek readers to a smartly produced magazine published online from Syria – in sophisticated, correct English – by ISIS. Yes, that most horrifying of terror organisations. The contrast between the slick presentation and the utterly grotesque content raised the question: Is this for real? A web search reveals that the publication’s authenticity is accepted by major, generally reputable, media.

In April, CNN reported that in the most recent online edition of Rumiyah, the name of the prior chief editor of Rumiyah and its predecessor Dabiq was revealed – and that he had been killed in Syria in January. He appears to have been a Syrian-American who grew up in Boston. Other publications that accept the status of Rumiyah/Dabiq without scepticism include The Economist, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

So if it is “black ops”, then not just Noseweek but many reputable major global media sources have been duped.

• The year 2017 marks a decade since Gold Fields acquired South Deep, the world’s deepest gold mine, at a cost of $3 billion. Situated west of Johannesburg, so far, it has proved to be probably the world’s most costly –  and least profitable – mine to run, yet it is sold to investors year after year with the promise of fabulous profits to come.

Back in August 2016 (nose192), the late Barry Sergeant wrote: “News from the 2015 annual report is that Gold Fields now plans to – finally – ‘deliver’ South Deep to cash break-even by end-2016 and communicate a long-term plan by early 2017”. Not without reason, he then posed the question: “When this also flops will heads roll?” Sergeant rated South Deep the biggest scam in gold mining history:

“In the latest year of sham, the Gold Fields board and its top executives were remunerated to the tune of R187 million for 2015. This takes the total for the con-artist scions… to more than R1 billion since Nick Holland took the CEO seat in May 2008. For the immense pain of fanning one of the tallest stories in gold mining history, Holland has pocketed close to R200m…”

Lo and behold, at the end of April this year, Martin Creamer reported in Mining Weekly that: “Quarter-on-quarter gold production at the South Deep mine fell 43% in the first three months of 2017, when costs soared 56%… All-in costs at the mechanised mine rose to a high level of $1,821 per ounce…

“Former De Beers Consolidated Mines executive Martin Preece, who has had extensive experience in massive mechanised underground mining, has been appointed Gold Fields executive VP South Africa, effective from May 2.

“We believe his experience will help drive South Deep to become an efficient, sustainable mechanised mine,” said Holland in a release to Mining Weekly Online. Hope springs eternal… or is it simply a case of “Why stop a good scam that still works?”.

• The contingency fee agreements in terms of which attorney A L “Tony” Mostert and his law firm earned an estimated R250m as curator and legal advisor of all the pension funds stripped of “surpluses” by means of the notorious “Gavalas option” scheme, were ruled illegal by Judge Neil Tuchten in the High Court, Pretoria, in May.

The case involved only the contingency agreement Mostert concluded with the Financial Services Board in 2006 in relation to the Sable Pension Fund.

Mostert has been given three months to account for his fees “in accordance with the norms of the attorneys profession”, and to refund to the pension fund the excess above that fee rate which he has collected as a “contingency” fee-plus-interest. At a rough calculation, it is estimated that he could be required to refund as much as R40m. More about this next month.

Gavalas Option
attorneys contingency fees
pension fund surplusses
Tony Mostert
A L Mostert
Financial Services Board
Neil Tuchten
norms of attorneys profession
Sable Pension Fund
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