Of human bondage, help for the hirsute and think ink

It’s official: we are poorer than ever….. and greatly in hock! Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago shared the unwelcome news on Thursday via that unwelcome platform of our times – a Zoom lecture, in this case organised by the Wits School of Governance. 

“We have just completed our worst growth decade on record – worse than the 1980s or the 1990s. On a per capita basis, South Africans have been getting poorer since 2013. In the world, we are slipping backwards,” said Kganyago. 

And then, in case you thought that perhaps, just maybe, it can’t be as bad as all that, he added: “In 1960, South African incomes were around 26% of those in the US. They are now down to 13%. They were 128% of Brazil’s in 1960, a country to which we are often compared; they are now down to 65%. Rather, we risk following Argentina’s path, where ideological conflicts and unstable macroeconomic policies produced a steady economic decline.”

Lesetja Kganyago and Jacob Zuma
ALL HANDS TO THE PUMPS: Lesetja Kganyago is congratulated by former President Jacob Zuma on his appointment as Governor of the South African Reserve Bank in October 2014. At that point the economy was already on the wane. “South Africans have been getting poorer since 2013,” says Kganyago
Picture: GCIS

Don’t cry for me…

Ok then, so we are on our way to becoming as economically sick as some South American basket case, but without the middling-good football team.

So much for the illness, what of the cure?

The Daily Maverick’s Ed Stoddard quoted the governor as saying the Reserve Bank opposed the buying up government bonds as a way of dealing with the “highest debt pile in our history”.

He disabused the “quixotic belief that if we just engineer higher inflation, somehow growth will permanently rise”. 

But don’t be too glum. All the ingredients were there for economic growth and job creation, said Kganyago. “Let’s open up for investment to increase our productivity.”

If only. 

Tito Mboweni budget speech feb 2020
KANNIEDOOD?: Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and his trusty Aloe ferox during his February 2020 Budget speech. Mboweni (not for the first time) found a handy metaphor in the hardy plant. He said it could “withstand the long dry season because it is unsentimental. It sheds dead weight, in order to direct increasingly scarce resources to what is young and vital”. At the time gross government debt was projected to reach 65.6 percent in this fiscal year. A figure of 80.5 percent is now being mooted.
Picture: GCIS

Onward and upward!

Meanwhile Bloomberg has been hard at work reading Finance Minister’s Twitter feed (794 000 followers) and Facebook pages.

Reporters Antony Sguazzin and Prinesha Naidoo said Tito Mboweni had made a presentation to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) on Friday. They quoted the minister’s social media posts, which showed that gross government debt would climb to 80.5 percent of gross domestic product in this fiscal year. That’s up from a pre-Covid projection of 65.6 percent. 

But wait, there’s more gloom. By 2028-29 the figure should reach 114%, says Bloomberg citing the same source.

Animal capers

A screen-grab of Mboweni’s Twitter post shows, presumably, the figures – accompanied by a picture of a hippo with jaws wide open, and the message,”The Herculean task of closing the hippopotamus’ mouth.”

The post, it appears, has since been deleted and a Treasury spokesman declined to comment to Bloomberg on “unverified leaks” ahead of a 24 June special supplementary budget presentation.

The government has already gone cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund, seeking emergency Covid-19 funding, Bloomberg noted. 

Would it have to call on the IMF again and be forced to swallow unpalatable (and politically ruinous) public service and state pension cuts? 

Something has to be done about that hungry hippo.

Lockdown hair
BAD HAIR DAZE: Finally an easing of lockdown restrictions means we can get professionals to help with our hair.

Shaggy dog story 

Business Day used to have a snappy little slogan – News You Can Use. 

Quite how the mythical reader on the Umbilo bus was supposed to use the latest on bond yields was never explained. But perhaps that was the point. BD readers found value in such financial arcana, or at least enjoyed pretending to. 

Which all provides a long-winded introduction to a piece of long-overdue news that, for once, just about anyone can use. 

We are talking here of President Cyrll Ramaphosa’s announcement last week that hair salons could finally reopen. Apart from relief for struggling small businesses the shaggy among us now have an alternative to DIY barbering. 

As ever, the new regulations under Lockdown Level 3 Reloaded™ include a lot of make-it-up-as-you-go-along stuff.

Follicle follies

The lawmakers have made use of the handy phrase “wherever possible”, as Business Insider explains.

“Salons must ‘encourage’ pre-booking, but it is not mandatory. Likewise, employees older than 60 or with co-morbidities ‘must be discouraged from working’, but are not banned from doing so.” 

Bad news for the purple rinse brigade and diabetics, then (or is it)?

More worryingly (or is it?), is the ban on “beverage or food amenities” at salons. 

Does this mean an end to complimentary glasses of Champagne™ while your hairdresser snips away?

We hope not.

tatooing allowed as lockdwon eased
INK STAINED DRUDGE: The easing of lockdown restrictions mean Safreans are finally free to get that longed-for tattoo done. Picture: Pxhere

Sin on skin

Many Safreans have probably spent lockdown dreaming of having a Maori tattoo done on their beefy torsos. 

‘Would it be cultural misappropriation?’ our woke members would have been asking themselves. 

And what would be better for decorating the cleavage? 

A snake or a dolphin? Sexy or sluttish?

Finally the wait is over!

The same excellent Business Insider story also reports that tattoo and piercing parlors may also reopen.

Safety fast

Again the lawmakers are taking no chances. 

There will be “no unnecessary touching and no scalp, neck, shoulders and arms massages at the basin”.

And no hanging about or chit-chat either.

“There must also be ‘set time limits for each treatment to minimise unnecessary interactions with customers’,” Business Insider reports.

So don’t be surprised if the parlor staff seem more brusque than usual or if those cute overlapping triangles you had inked into your forearm to celebrate, say, your new polyamorous relationship, look a little wonky.

The artist with the needle is under the whip, after all.

Jude Law
HEY JUDE, DON’T MAKE IT BAD: The minute you let her under your skin/ Then you begin to make it better… Actor Jude Law has gone to some lengths to hide a few ill-chosen words. Safrean hacks can only sympathise. Picture: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Something fishy

And in more top tat news, the Daily Mail brings us word that aging matinée idol Jude Law has been back to the parlour himself.

“Jude the obscured! Law finally covers his ‘Sexy Sadie’ tattoo tribute to his ex-wife with a blue fish inking 17 years after split,” reads the online headline.

No need for further elaboration here.

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