KPMG forensic auditor Johan van der Walt’s insistence that there was evidence of a “rogue” spy unit at SARS, and that negative media reports about his unit’s report were planted to discredit him as a
State witness at the coming trial of Jacob Zuma, have me [and, I am sure, many others. – Ed.] totally confused. Here’s hoping Judge Nugent will clear it up.
• The rogue unit had a name: TCEI (Tax and Customs Enforcement Investigations). Believe me this is not BS. They had or still have two tasks: Investigating any tax related fraud and covering up for anything their senior officials are involved in.
The law against racist epithets is not at all specific. It should be. If one person refers to another by the K-word, it is racist, regardless of the colour of the perpetrator. Referring to Caucasians as “cockroaches” should be equally punishable.
Your columnist refers to a report in The Australian in which an SA farmer who emigrated to Australia says he has South African farmer friends keen to follow him to Australia “particularly since radical February 27 laws were passed authorising land seizures from white farmers without compensation”.
Really? I thought there was merely an agreement to discuss the matter. Maybe it won’t happen. I can’t see how the banks who are owed trillions by the farmers and really run everything, will allow expropriation without compensation.
Journey into space
Good on Bheki Mashile for raising the issue of nauseating jargon: “space” this, “space” that; “journey” this, “journey” that. However, “going forward” I trust he will be able to avoid referring to the Sowetan (a “South African newspaper icon”) as an “iconic South African newspaper”.
• Another one that irritates me no end is the word “curate”, so loved by journalists writing for magazines like Garden and Home. You don’t push your furniture around to make a room look better (or perhaps worse) any more, you curate. You may even curate your supper table. For crying in a bucket!
Robots versus humans
Re your columnist Sibisiso Biyela’s prognostications on artificial intelligence and the robots of the future in nose224: my take is that robots will make humans surplus to requirements and at that point, humans will kill one another.
Or maybe they’ll just stay at home and knit or play Pokemon? – Ed.
Hooray for Harold!
Harold Strachan’s articles definitely get better the older he is. Can’t wait for him to reach 100. Perhaps King Henry will send him a congratulatory telegram via cleft stick?
• Please, please tell us Harold is immortal and will continue writing for you.
• Harold’s column in nose224 was the best yet!
Vic de Valdorf
I would normally not have been attracted to any investment that offered the returns that Cambist did [19.5% p.a.], but given the weight of their TV campaign, I fell into the trap. My initial investment of R250,000 was met with returns as advertised – this was in 2015 – but for the last 15 months I have received a monthly dividend of just R167 [just over 1% per annum].
None of my correspondence has elicited any reply and phones are not answered. There appears to have been some form of criminal action here?
Go to the editorial about Cambist under the headline “The moral rot in unsecured lending” (nose179, September 2014) and ponder. Enough said. – Ed.
Herbal fix for poor media profits
Media 24 and Caxton think nothing of making money out of “Herbalist” ads which they themselves agree are not believable.
When I started looking into this years ago, the then editor of Caxton’s The Citizen agreed with me that the ads were not believable. More recently Media 24’s ombudsman George Claassen went further. When I pointed out these ads make claims that cannot possibly be true, he replied, “I agree, many of these ads are totally misleading and even fraudulent.” I gathered his firm relies on the “buyer beware” section of our law because, since then, the papers now carry disclaimers in connection with these ads.
Surely it is wrong to print ads that make claims that you know conclusively can’t be true? It’s like driving your car down the wrong side of a motorway with a sign on the back saying: “My attorney assures me that I am not responsible for any accidents because it is the duty of other motors to watch where they are driving.”
Coalition chaos and sting in tail
Here is my response to your invitation to comment on Leon Schreiber’s predictions regarding the future prospects of coalition government in South Africa.
Most South Africans tend to see the downsides of whatever we have, and the upsides of what exists far away – the “grass is ever greener on the other side of the fence” syndrome.
In a nutshell, frequent coalitions will have different problems to our five-years-at-a-time governance system, but just as many.
So far, a dominant one-party system has meant that South Africa has enjoyed all the benefits of a proportional representation system – a wider diversity of parties and views in Parliament, provinces and municipalities – without the disadvantages. The same would apply if the DA ruled South Africa and the ANC ruled the Western Cape.
For decades, proportional representation meant that Italy had collapsing government coalitions, on average, every second year. South African schoolchildren can easily memorise the names of all prime ministers and presidents since 1910. Only Google could record all the prime ministers Italy has had since returning to a democracy after WW2.
Israel’s Knesset [Parliament] is alongside South Africa the world’s purest example of proportional representation system. It has resulted in the smallest, most extremist party in the ruling coalition (whether fundamentalists or hyper-ethnic) becoming the tail that wags the dog. The government, under threat of a walkout and losing power, has to cave in to extremist policies of one kind or another on the occupied West Bank.
Oudtshoorn provides a sombre warning of what happens when you have a hung council for a year, with the failure of parties to form a coalition. Corruption ran riot while the council was paralysed, until there were not even funds to repair potholes. The municipality was living off the Cango Caves tourist revenue, while running down the caves with no maintenance.
Oudtshoorn has only 100,000 residents. If the same happened in Cape Town, with 3,900,000 residents, or greater Johannesburg, with close on five million people, we would face a crisis of major magnitude.
If the national government refused to take over a malfunctioning municipality under section 100 of our Constitution, due to a national coalition deadlock, the crisis would worsen. In Lebanon’s coalition government, not even rubbish could be collected for over a year.
In conclusion, our current problems, such as the arrogance of incumbency, would just be replaced by different ones. Further, the results of coalition politics – that no voter can get the policy they voted for – can lead to cynicism and a dropout of voters, who become alienated from what they see as an elite, distant political class, a revolving door, but all homogeneous.
This alienation against what is viewed as a homogeneous, revolving door, single political establishment, is part of the causes that led to Brexit, and a populist backlash against the EU.
In the unlikely event I win your prize, I don’t drink. A bottle of red Grapetiser will be appreciated.
Claremont, Cape Town
Keith Gottschalk is a retired political scientist from the University of the Western Cape. Your bottle of Grapetiser is on its way, while we celebrate your success with the forfeited bottle of Graham Beck bubbly! – Ed.â€©
To Vodacom’s Ethics Committee
Dear Sirs, Your organisation exists solely because of its customers. You hold the jobs you do, solely because of your organisation’s customers. You all hold positions on Vodacom’s Ethics and Governance Committee. Your organisation’s ethos is stated on your website as “Vodacom is committed to the highest standards of business integrity, ethics and professionalism”.
The highly contentious issue of allowing your mobile platform to be used by WASPs [Wireless Application Service Providers] is constantly being brought to your attention in Noseweek and by the thousands of customers who call your customer care line daily, and yet you fail to introduce safeguards to protect the very customers on which your business is solely reliant and to which you owe a duty of care. Your actions and inaction are criminal.
As a customer and shareholder who has been defrauded by as yet unknown WASPs, and charged for “content” and “entertainment” services which escalate monthly, I can give you first-hand feedback and assurance that:
• There is no double opt-in procedure in place;
• Your call centre personnel appear to be jaded and numbed by WASP complaints;
• When logging a complaint, customers are told they will get feedback in 7 to 14 working days, as
that is how long it will take the IT department to investigate and get back to the customer – which suggests they have a backlog of complaints to deal with;
• The customer is unable to log a complaint with the WASP Association unless and until Vodacom has identified the WASPs concerned;
• Customer care invariably suggest it is up to the customer to pursue the matter via WASPA, to try and obtain a refund;
• It would appear that even after that, a full refund from the WASP concerned will not be forthcoming as a portion of the profit has already been retained by Vodacom;
• So the customer will still have to try to get the remainder refunded from Vodacom itself, a near impossible and entirely frustrating process.
I am “lucky”: I have a contract. I have internet access. I am able to retrieve my itemised bill (for which I pay you R15 a month), and study it to see how and when I am being defrauded. How and to what extent are your less privileged “pay as you go” customers being defrauded? How does this align with your stated company ethos?
Do you have answers to these questions? If not, you should all be seriously considering the committees you sit on, the roles you are playing and the legal consequences of director’s fiduciary duty. I have sat on committees such as these. I understand the legal implications and responsibilities involved. They are not light, and you should not take them lightly.
You cannot plead ignorance. The time has long come to act. What will you do?
Farina is a lawyer. For many years she served on Sasol’s ethics and corporate governance committee.
• Amazing, how data and air time evaporate even when you are not using your phone. Bloody thieves, how can they be stopped?!
• There was a time when they used to milk my airtime each and every day. When I manually checked what is eating my airtime it would say I am not subscribed to any service – until I decided to call them and complain. It didn’t even take a minute to remove the parasite WASP.
Watch it, within a month the airtime milkman will be back. The only way they’ll be stopped is when one or two of them are jailed for fraud and theft and fined MANY millions – small change to them. – Ed.
• I did a study on Vodacom, MTN and Telkom about 15 years ago. If you look at their annual financial reports around that time you will see that, together, they averaged around R25 billion annual profit after tax within South Africa – around R70mil per day. Not sure what they make currently. Crazy figures though.
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