Neighbourly Notes – 25 February 2021

HAPPY 90th BERYL: Beryl Smith celebrates her 90th birthday on Friday February 19, with family and an Asian-themed party.

AFTER 336 days of lockdown, we are now truly into 2021, but Covid-19 is still causing problems in many areas of society including in the hospitality, tourism and entertainment sectors. The official unemployment figures were published on Tuesday and do not paint a good picture, with more than 32% of South Africans out of work. Because of the politics involved, certain sections of the country are excluded from these figures including those who are no longer seeking employment, along with others. The true unemployment rate in SA is closer to 50% and even higher. There is no possibility that the tax from less than half the population can pay to sustain those who are not contributing. That was what started the entire economic mess in the first place, with a handful of people supporting the majority. The government needs to understand that they are milking the wrong cash cow. The unfathomable propensity to employ government workers at all levels, (central, provincial and municipal) does not solve the problem. The vernment pays these employees from the money it receives from taxes from those employed in the private sector. If everyone worked for the government, how would the salaries be generated? We need to abandon the egotistical ideals of a national airline, go after those who gave us a failed design on the Kusile and Medupi power stations, introduce and encourage independent power producers, drop corporate tax on newly established businesses but increase personal taxation on anyone who earns in excess of R600,000 per annum, including politicians and a whole lot more. By encouraging new business (and that includes international businesses as well as local) more people will be able to find work and thereby increase the tax base. Renewable energy and recycling are two of the hot topics that should be seriously pursued as they will require an entirely new workforce, and SA has a vast pool to choose from. We are a very long way from returning to prosperity and unless the government takes a firm hand in fairly redistribuing wealth, and not relying on the minority (many of whom are struggling on wages of less than R150 per day) to pay for the majority, we’ll never do so.

THIS year’s matric results are a lot better than anticipated even though they understandably have taken a drop across the country. Here in the Eastern Cape, the results were disappointing at 68.1%, down from 74.6% last year. The Eastern Cape is now the second-worst performing province in the country, just beating the Northern Cape, which only attained a 66% pass rate. While the IEB results at private schools retained a pass rate of about 90%, this is conclusive evidence that our school system needs to be reanalysed and changed to suit the modern era. With little to no access to learning material, it is not surprising the more rural provinces should suffer the most severely in terms of matric results. We need to build proper infrastructure and provide free wifi connected devices to allow our children to learn the skills they will require in the future. The Victorian educational system is too old and inflexible and must be replaced with one more fitting for the 2020s. The current antiquated system will not prepare our children for the challenges they will face in their immediate future, such as water scarcity, pollution, climate change and more.

HAPPY birthday and may the year ahead be the best ever is what we wish everyone enjoying a special day this week, especially Jessica Green, Storm Gretton, Ange Hutchinson, Sheryl Ann Drennan, Andrew Dempers, Chenelle Freeman, Glenda Kent, Monica Watson, Annette Coetzee, Rita Hope, Lorna Els, Teagan Shaddock, Angelique Botha, Danielle Spaumer, Biance Twynham, Samie Step, Jerusha Govender, Anna Byrd, Val Dugmore, Mike Hockin, Rohan Myburgh, Dan Hilpert, Delonore Schafer, Colleen Shaw, Jenna Henning, Jennifer Worrall, Nicole Owen, Pam Taylor, Günter Johannsen, Mauneen Charter, Kaine Charter, Orpa Westraadt, Ziyanda Bans, Darryl Hanstein, Jill Long, Monique Harvey, Athol Waters, Dave Tyrrell, Gordon Bunting, Kathy Turner, Stuart Vincent, Angela Welsh, Kathy Mansfield, Bev Monaghan, Lee Anne Sawyer Repinz, Pat Wilson, Brenda Hulley, Saskia Swart, Pieter Retief, Cyril Tyson, Ivor Gray, Ivan Schafer, Ken Butler, Bernard Meech, Elsabe Wiseman, Louise Grottsch, Trisha Van Wyk, Dominique Pattie, Lynn Coetzee, Andre van Vuuren, Natasha Pawley, Stella Reifman, Giles Shepherd and Jeremy Kohler.

CONGRATULATIONS, best wishes and continued success to all businesses having an anniversary, especially to Top Carpets (Rosehill Mall), Pick n Pay Liquor (Heritage Mall), Kowie Vet Clinic (corner of Southwell and Atherstone Road) and LP Gaz (Bathurst Street, East Bank).

THE markets are unstable at the moment and difficult to interpret. One thing for sure is that the price of crude oil is steadily rising and could even hit the $70 per barrel mark before the end of the year. The stock exchanges of the major trading countries are steadily rising in anticipation of an end to the pandemic with vaccines being rolled out across the world. However, developing countries, specifically here in Africa, are still struggling financially and, unless the call by French president Emmanuel Macron and echoed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and others for the developed countries to donate 10% of their current vaccines to the less developed nations, SA (with its variant) may remain out in the cold for some time to come. With last year’s trading figures in brackets to compare against, the Rand is R14.60 to the Dollar (R15.15), R20.68 to the Pound (R19.59) and R17.77 to the Euro (R16.51). Gold is trading at $1,807.16 per fine ounce ($1,664.12) with platinum at $1,262.00 ($851.76) and Brent crude oil to $65.07 per barrel ($53.79).

SPECIAL thoughts and prayers are with all who are not well. Sterkte Roy Potter, Andrew de Vries, Jenny Groenewald, Jan Haig and Lesley Stevenson.

WE extend our sincerest condolences to Carole Christie and family on the passing of her husband Malcolm. May cherished memories of times spent together carry you through this sad time.

HAPPY anniversary greetings and best wishes for many more to the following couples on their special occasions: Hayden and Anneli Hanstein, Allan and Michelle Miles, Andrew and Ronel Bartlett, Kevin and Marlene Brown, David and Megan Waddington, Trevor and Stephanie Warner, Tyler and Sasha-Lee Schafti and Kenny and Liz Hill.

THOUGHT for the week: “Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.”

BEST regards
The Team

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