Die Vine Intervention: Spier Chenin Blanc & Creative Block #3

Legendary food and wine expert Michael Olivier has sourced another pair of Cape wines to delight and excite the palate.   They are the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015 and the 2014 Spier Creative Block Number 3.

John Fraser has donned his leathers, unfurled his whip (or is it a Spier?) and us determined to keep order with the Jo’burg studio panel – Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen from Grapslave,  Philippa Rodseth from the Manufacturing Circle, manager and chef from Alfie’s pizzeria Nicky Geerts and Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald.

Uncork the podcast:

Is the dti funding the friends of Zuma?

NB.   Since I wrote this piece, the dti has announced that it will be naming recipients of all incentives in 2016/2017, in a new report.    I salute their change of heart.  

This was the piece I wrote earlier this week…..
One shining beacon in any democracy is the flow of information to the people.  Control of that flow is known as propaganda.

So I was quite frankly astounded by the grumpiness and defensiveness today of Trade and Industry (dti) Minister Rob Davies when he was asked for details of the black industrialists who have been receiving billions in funds under his department’s flagship programme, which is being run in alliance with a number of development funding institutions like the IDC.

He told us that so far 46 black industrialists have received support, and he announced that four of these were being showcased.

However, my colleague Terence Creamer from Engineering News and I asked for the full list.  We were told it is not normal practice for recipients of incentives to all be named, even though Terence was able to detail past instances when such information had been sought and produced.

At one stage dti director general Lionel October said he would provide the information to Engineering News, and to other journalists, but there was a reluctance to go wider.

The Minister eventually agreed to consult the recipients of awards to see if they minded their names being published.  Yep.  You read it correctly.   It is their call.

It turned vile when Minister Davies in effect accused me of racism, for seeking details of benefits to black industrialists.   He equated me to people who call blacks monkeys and baboons.  Incredible.

And Lionel chipped in to suggest this was white prejudice.

Now, Davies said in his budget speech: “I am happy to report that as of now we have approved 46 projects run by black industrialists, with Government agencies – including the dti, IDC, PIC and NEF deploying over R2 billion in financial support on top of R122m in grants from the dti.”

Over R2bn of public money deployed.  And yet it is racist to ask for full details of the recipients?

We are living in a country where corruption is rife, where there are daily allegations that a powerful group of businessmen linked to President Zuma are coining it.

I am not saying that one cent of public money from the dti’s black industrialist programme is falling into the wrong hands.

But unless there is full disclosure, what else are we supposed to think?

What on earth could they be trying to hide?


Tweet of the Day

the dti (@the_dti):  DG October says Black Industrialists Programme is going well and producing the desired effect


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This is life GM. But not as we know it.

It was perhaps naïve to hope that the impact of all the musical chairs at the National Treasury would not spill beyond the bureaucrats and political fat cats.    But then came the ratings downgrades, and yet more political shit with the re-deployment to Eskom of disgraced, tearful CEO Brian Molefe.

And now the news from General Motors.  They are off; leaving SA.


Just as every bit of news of new investment in the auto industry, or in any other branch of manufacturing, should be seen as a vote of confidence in SA, so equally must we worry about withdrawal.

I remember from my time in PE, at school in the late 1960s, that some of my schoolmates were American, their dads working in the auto industry which was even then an important part of the City’s economic infrastructure.   The horrors of apartheid led to some withdrawals from the country, but GM’s return was a blessing.

Is this an isolated problem?   Nope.  Just last month, an important corporate deal involving Pioneer foods collapsed.  And what of the many discussions which take place all the time below the radar, with companies looking at fresh investment in South Africa, or in expansion here?

How many of these investments are turning sour because President Zuma and his cohorts are messing up investor confidence as fast as they mess up the economy.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is due to deliver his Budget Speech next week, when he will, no doubt, give an update on the billions of rand in incentives which are paid each year to anchor global auto firms in South Africa.

He may be reluctant to express concern at this latest GM bad news, but he must be worried.   As should we all be.

Tweets of the Day

Cirha (@MtikiCVU):  General Motors leaving SA is a huge loss for a country plagued with high rates of unemployment and slow economic growth.

Michael Jordaan (@MichaelJordaan):  First Barclays (UK) and now General Motors (USA) decide to leave SA. Sad but as always it creates opportunity for others.


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Die Vine Intervention: Sara & Valentina from Gabrielskloof

Is house wine horrible?    It can be.   But we try two house wines which are really enjoyable.  They come from Alfie’s Pizzeria in Pretoria, which done a great job at sourcing the wines, and they were brought to the tasting by Nicky Geerts, who manages the restaurant.

The first we glugged was the Sara, a Savignon Blanc from the Gabrielskloof Wine Estate: the second is a 2014 Shiraz, the Valentina.  Michael Olivier presented the wines.

Other tasters are Philippa Rodseth from the Manufacturing Circle, Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen from Grapeslave,  and Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald.

Please check out the podcast…..

Die Vine Intervention: Fairview Darling Sauvignon Blanc & Shiraz


We are back with another podcast, with a visit to the ever-popular Fairview Estate.   The always fair and never fierce Michael Olivier introduces the 2016 Darling Sauvignon Blanc and the 2014 Shiraz.

John Fraser is in charge of the Jo’burg rabble, who are Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen from Grapeslave, Nicky Geerts from Pretoria’s Alfie’s Pizzeria and Deli, the Voice of Manufacturing Philippa Rodseth from the Manufacturing Circle and technical wizz Malcolm MacDonald from Clientele, who also hosted the tasting.

Do take a listen….