2019 was a year of contrasts. Some days I would read the news and think South Africa is on the best path, and we have won the fight in turning our country and economy around. Then there were days where I have thought to myself we are headed for the abyss, especially listening to clients who are severely impacted by load shedding.
As a firm, we have had a most successful year for which we are very grateful. We remain very aware that we could not have achieved our goals without the support of our clients and we want to thank you for keeping us at the top.
We were awarded the Diamond Arrow award for the best law firm in the Eastern Cape for the second year running. Our Givers Gain project was a powerhouse this year and gave us the opportunity to upgrade crèches and other facilities, and to spend time with the lonely and destitute. The property industry of Nelson Mandela Bay – agents, banks and mortgage originators – has shown true spirit in their support of this great initiative. Many unforgettable speakers graced the stage in our auditorium this year, and we laughed, cried and even danced with some of the biggest names in the business. We had a very successful Property Star Awards function, recognising the top names in our industry.
The signing into law of the Property Practitioners Act has made an enormous impact on the very important industry of real estate.
In our beautiful country, those still fighting to keep their pockets lined through corruption have unfortunately been more resilient than anybody ever anticipated. A well-managed fight-back supported by people still in government has managed to put much effort into keeping President Ramaphosa and Minister Gordhan busy with old, baseless allegations. Slowly but surely the good citizens of this country are winning the fight (even though it does not always feel like this). Ten years of absolute corruption and anarchy cannot magically disappear overnight.
There were many goals achieved which we do not always notice, but which have slowly but surely placed this country on the right path again:
- President Ramaphosa has secured R663 billion in investment commitments from various companies through the two investment conferences he held.
- All the boards of Transnet, SAA, Eskom, Prasa and various other SOE’s have been replaced by the President by more competent boards which will be held liable should they not achieve the targets set for them. Eskom has concluded 365 lifestyle audits on its most senior managers and over 1000 cases have been referred to the NPA for investigation. Lifestyle audits on all six parastatals under Minister Gordhan have started and this will include doing audits on the spouses, families and children of all managers at every level.
- The controversial visa requirements announced by Malusi Gigaba in 2015 for international tourists who had to have unabridged birth certificates for children when entering the country were finally scrapped in November this year, just in time for the peak tourist season. These requirements are calculated to have cost the country R10 billion during this period in tourism revenue lost.
- ICASA has after years finally released its memorandum of information on the new 5 G spectrum which will have a significant impact on our connectivity, data prices, internet speed and more. This will bring in billions in revenue for the Government and will benefit the people of South Africa through increased competition, transformation of the communications sector and a lower cost to communicate.
- Minister Michael Masutha signed treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India. They are finalising the translation of a few specific clauses before it will be fully implemented, which means a certain family in Dubai will almost certainly be in South Africa during 2020.
- Regiments Capital, who assisted the Guptas in clearing billions of rands through various corrupt practises, was dealt a severe blow. A devastatingly comprehensive order handed down in chambers at the High Court in Johannesburg on 21 November 2019 provides for all assets linked to Regiments, its remaining two directors and their former partner – as well as those held by their respective family trusts, by their lawyers or other third parties – to be surrendered to a court-appointed curator. The order also provides that financial institutions in South Africa and abroad which are known or suspected to hold monies, interests or other assets subject to the order, be notified thereof, and for the curator to arrange for the recovery of such.
- In October the NPA recovered R630 million stolen by Regiments Capital from the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund and the monies have been returned to the fund which will go a very long way in assisting the pensioners who suffered tremendously as a result of this theft over the years.
- Andre de Ruyter was the previous CEO of Nampak and was head of Sasol’s petrochemical division both nationally and internationally. Now as the CEO of Eskom he comes with a wealth of experience in the coal industry which will go a long way in alleviating Eskom’s issues with its supply chain. What makes his appointment even more remarkable is that he has the full support of Government and Cabinet – something that has not been achieved by his eight predecessors. He will start on 15 January 2020 and is sure to make an immediate impact in turning Eskom around.
- The appointment of Shamila Batohi as the new National Director of Public Prosecutions at the National Prosecuting Authority has gone a very long way in increasing the efficiency of the NPA and she, together with Hermione Cronje, will make a big difference in taking on the people who have plundered this country.
- The replacement of Tom Moyane with Edward Kieswetter as Commissioner of SARS has already had a significant impact at SARS with Moyane being dismissed and his whole gang of enforcers gone with him -including the infamous Mmamathe “MMMam, protect me from yourself” Makhekhe-Mokhuane.
- More good news is that inflation is at its lowest point in many years and the recovery by PIC of monies paid to Iqbal Survé’s company Sekunjalo. A cabinet reshuffle is also on the cards where I think we will see the last of the Zuma loyalists disappear, and the Estina dairy case has been finalised by the NPA and will go to court early next year.
Make no mistake: South Africa still has plenty of problems such as unemployment, crime, violence against women and a stagnant economy but the President and a lot of good people out there in our Government are fighting the good fight and winning the small battles and eventually the war.
If we stand together as a nation and be supportive of our President in a very difficult situation we are sure to see a much better country in the next few years.
We wish you a wonderful and safe festive season and we look forward to making the best of 2020 with you.