Monthly Archives: March 2016

Thoughts on the Belgian Attacks and on Chris Hart

Belgian Attacks

I have been working from home a lot.   This basically means drinking a lot of tea and watching a lot of telly.  So I was able to follow the Brussels bombings for several hours yesterday, on Sky, Belgian TV and French TV.

Having worked in some of the buildings near the Metro station which was hit, and seeing them on the TV screen, it brought home to me how these attacks were so close to my old haunts.   And Zaventem airport is a place from which I departed on many memorable trips while I was based in Brussels.

I am not shocked by the reports of dissent and the fostering of terrorists in the immigrant neighbourhoods of Brussels, having lived in such a neighbourhood myself.   And from my own observations, I have noticed that many Belgians are not always benign about their North African neighbours, or their descendants.  Or very welcoming.

However, I was rather disturbed by attitude of the Sky TV vultures who descended on Brussels, as they had done upon Paris after the attacks there.    Maybe I was just being hyper-sensitive, but the tone of some of the coverage suggested that the Belgians had brought this upon themselves.  Belgian and French TV coverage was a lot more objective.,

Now, I may be wrong, but I have always believed that the terrorists and not the targets are the ones we should blame for the atrocities.   Maybe the Belgian security services were a bit lax, but remember that they have just captured the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, so they can’t be all that useless.

Of course, a good response to all of my moaning is that if the Sky TV coverage annoyed me, I should have just turned it off.   And after a while I did.    Bloody Belgians.

Chris Hart

I haven’t seen the very impressive Chris Hart since he left Standard Bank, after much excitement over a tweet which some believed was racist, although it clearly wasn’t.

However, I see that now he has resigned he is out and about again, and we must all welcome the return to the public stage of one of our finest commentators on economics and on the way this country is being (badly) run.

The best news is that now he has escaped the Standard Bank shackles, Chris is now free to speak freely, and anyone with a love of South Africa should take advantage of this.   If he does not soon embark on a crowded schedule of speaking engagements, there will be something very wrong with those responsible for hiring worthwhile speakers.    I know I cannot wait to attend his next presentation, however disturbing his analysis may be.

 

Tweet of the Day:

Shit Jokes (@ShitJokes):  My Mrs reckons she can tell how good a film is by how many tissues she goes through when watching it. Funnily enough, I have a similar system!

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Die Vine intervention: Baleia Sauvignon Blanc and Tempanillo

The man with the golden corkscrew Michael Olivier presents two wines from Baleia on our latest podcast tasting.  They are the Baleia Sauvignon Blanc and Tempranillo

On the Jo’burg tasting panel we are once again joined by Cape wine Master Debi van Flymen, Economist Ian Cruickshanks, Barclays’ Chris Gilmour and the godfather of branding Jeremy Sampson.

Once again, Malcolm MacDonald provides the technical wizardry.

Check out the podcast:


Die Vine Intervention: Villiera Tradition

With the pop of a cork, Michael Olivier presents another Cape bubbly to an eager tasting panel.  It is the Villiera Tradition.

On the Jo’burg tasting panel we are joined by Cape wine Master Debi van Flymen, Economist Ian Cruickshanks, Barclays’ Chris Gilmour and the godfather of branding Jeremy Sampson.

Once again, Malcolm MacDonald provides the technical wizardry.

Check out the podcast:


Le Lude Sparkling Wine

The ever-sparking Michael Olivier presents two classy Cape bubblies for our latest tasting podcast – the Le Lude Brut and Rose.

On the Jo’burg tasting panel we are joined by Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen, Economist Ian Cruickshanks, Barclays’ Chris Gilmour and the godfather of branding Jeremy Sampson.

Once again, Malcolm MacDonald provides the technical wizardry.

Check out the podcast:


Should CEO Succession be a Black AND White Issue?

It was notable that as Sasol’s outgoing CEO David Constable wound up his latest results presentation, the last slide referred to succession.

He must be a­­­­­­ hard worker, because his top job is to be taken over not by one man, but by two.  The incoming joint-CEOs Bongani Nqwababa (who is black) and Stephen Cornell (who is not black) were there to bid farewell to the man with two jobs as they prepare for one each.

In a phrase which belongs more in an employment contract than in a media briefing, Constable said his twin successors would be jointly and severally accountable.   Whatever that means.

Now it is about time that Sasol had a black CEO, partly because this is a new South Africa, and partly because it has had a stormy relationship with government – and black CEOs are perceived to be better at oiling the wheels in Pretoria than we pale-faces.

But why does any black CEO need an equal-in-status side-kick/partner-in-crime?   Don’t get me wrong.  There is no suggestion that either new Sasol boss will be first among equals, or that Bongani is not up to the job and needs a bit of hand-holding.

But this is South Africa, where racists lurk behind every bush and perceptions can sometimes be more important than reality.

There is a similar relationship up the Rosebank hill from Sasol HQ – at Standard Bank, where again there is a joint-CEO structure with (black) Sim Tshabalala being in charge alongside (white) Ben Kruger.

Now Sim has undoubted qualities – which help to explain his leading position in the current dialogue between the business community and President Zuma.

But might he not command even more respect if he were doing the CEO job all on his own?

Certainly, any company which has two equal-in-status, of-any-colour, joint-CEOs will be faced with a higher executive wage bill, as neither would wish to be seen to be paid any less than their predecessor or their boardroom equal.   And maybe there is indeed twice the value for twice the money?

However, returning to the issue of perceptions, and without any suggestion that either black joint-CEO is in any way under-qualified, it might have been better if these two giants of the business community, Sasol and Standard, had taken a slightly bolder step and had just appointed a stand-alone black CEO.

It would have saved a few rand, and given the racists less ammunition for their vile theories.

Tweet of the Day:

Mark Twain (@TheMarkTwain):  Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.   

ZA Confidential is a subscription newsletter.   To join the elite, to invite us to events with edible food and drinkable wine, for sponsorship discussions or any other communication, please contact:    zaconfidential@gmail.com    

Follow us on twitter:  @zaconfidential @dievinein @clasfras1    


Die Vine Intervention: Innis & Gunn Bourbon Pale Ale and T’is the Season to be Hoppy

Stumbling in and out of a few breweries is second nature for our booze guru Michael Olivier, who has selected two beers for our latest podcast tasting: the Innis & Gunn Bourbon Pale Ale and T’is the Saison to be Hoppy.

John Fraser dispenses a dose of each to our Johannesburg tasting panel of  crusading Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen, economist Mike Schussler, Barclays’ Chris Gilmour and hop hip Jeremy Sampson.

Check out the podcast:  


Devil’s Peak Pale Ale and La Trappe

Another beery tasting for Die Vine Intervention.  This week Michael Olivier has chosen a pair to taste – the Devil’s Peak Pale Ale and La Trappe.

A few regulars propping up the bar at the Johannesburg tasting are Cape wine Master Debi van Flymen, economist Mike Schussler, Barclays’ Chris Gilmour and boozy brander Jeremy Sampson.

Check out the podcast: 


Die Vine Intervention: Welmoed Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir

Our food and wine expert Michael Olivier presents two summery wines from Welmoed – a 2015 Pinot Grigio and a 2014 Pinot Noir.

The Johannesburg tasting panel has the seasoned palates of Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen, the ever-eager Jeremy Sampson, the sage Barclays bloke Chris Gilmour and much-loved economist Mike Schussler.

Check out the podcast:


Three Ships Bourbon Cask Whisky

Wee Michael Olivier has selected a wee dram of local whisky for our latest wee podcast – the Bourbon Cask Whisky from Three Ships.

John Fraser anchors the tasting in Johannesburg with Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen, branding superstar Jeremy Sampson, Barclays Chris Gilmour and master economist Ian Cruickshanks.

There is also a chat about the challenge of training waiters and others who sell wine and spirits in bars and restaurants.

Check out the podcast:


Die Vine Intervention:  Asara’s Bell Tower and vine-dried Sauvignon Blanc

After another good meander through the Cape vineyards, the incomparable Michael Olivier has unearthed two wines from Asara – a red blend called the Bell Tower and a sweet Sauvignon Blanc.

John Fraser keeps order with the Johannesburg tasting panel of brander Jeremy Sampson, award-winning economist Mike Schussler, Barclays’ Chris Gilmour and Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen.

Check out the podcast: 


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