Wine Tasting Podcast: Delaire Graff Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Classic elegance

By John Fraser

We made a classy choice for our latest wine tasting: the Delaire Graff Sauvignon Blanc 2019.

Uncorked with a flourish (OK, it was unscrewed) by food and wine legend Michael Olivier, it was presented to a discerning tasting panel of Brand Finance’s Jeremy Sampson, Cova Advisory’s Duane Newman, Ian Cruickshanks from the SA Institute of Race Relations and Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald.

There was also a chat about foreign investment in SA wine.  Good or bad?

Click below for tasting thrills:

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Political correctness has gone haywire. Book Review: The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray

The Madness of Crowds. A fine book by a fine writer

By John Fraser

This is an intelligent, exhaustively researched and superbly written book,  and it took some courage to write it.   For Douglas Murray has laid bare some of the most ludicrous inequalities in our society, resulting from an over-correction of past injustices.

Written with some wit, in a style far too clear and comprehensible to be categorised as an academic work, this book also contains an underlying streak of anger.  It agonises over the mess we have made – the crowd madness – when we have gone so far to right wrongs that the pendulum has swung off again – in the opposite direction.

The author concentrates on four areas of what can be called identity politics – all four of which are potential minefields – for discussion, illustration and analysis.

These are gay rights, feminism, racism, and (the most complicated minefield of all) the trans issue.

For each of these, he looks at the discrimination which the group has had to endure, the mainly-successful efforts to right the wrongs of the past, and the extent to which we have now careered so far in addressing one type of vile discrimination that we have introduced another, illogically etching a fresh and damaging scar on society.

A topic which does strike a chord here in South Africa is that of racism. Although he does not directly discuss the South African example in the book in any detail, there is much of relevance to our country as we head into a new decade.

He is a courageous writer, but maybe not sufficiently courageous to open up this country’s can of worms.  (I am being unfair to him.  I know he would do a superb job and hope he will extend his current speaking tour of the UK to this former colony.   The Q&A sessions alone would be unmissable.)

Murray does an excellent job in illustrating that while in the past it was a struggle to be a woman, gay, a black person, a transsexual – these days there are bizarre examples of the straight white male being at a disadvantage.   The equality train has drawn into the terminus, started accelerating again, crashed through and is now headed for new dangers.

The most difficult issue which he tackles is that of trans, and he is doing us all a favour by stepping into this uncomfortable area about which we know far less than we pretend to.  To his credit, he does it with compassion and integrity, rigour and a no-nonsense approach.

This is an issue where understanding and tolerance are really needed, and Murray is up to the job.  However, he is also unafraid to cite examples of where we have moved too fast, too far.

The prescription of chemical and surgical procedures to allow someone to begin a transition to a different, chosen gender is discussed.   The question is asked, though, whether it is sound to start such radical and irreversible treatment on children and teenagers, and Murray fears that some medical professionals may be too eager to jump to extreme conclusions without objectively and exhaustively examining those who are entrusted to them for diagnosis.

He warns that looking back as an adult, a tomboy girl or an effeminate boy may realise – too late – that they may not have truly wanted or needed gender reassignment.  It will have taken place when they were probably too young and confused to truly make a wise decision.

He also tackles the quandry of people competing in women’s sports who have some male characteristics, even some who were born as men, and who thus enjoy an advantage which many consider unfair.

It is hard to read this section of the book without thinking of South Africa’s own Caster Semenya, opinions on whom have become so interlinked with racial tension that I fear an objective debate on this talented sports personality may forever prove impossible.

You may not agree with everything which Murray puts forward in The Madness of Crowds, but you will learn a lot, think a lot.   Certainly, I found it a compelling read.

It is a book which needed to be written, and we are very lucky to have had a writer of Murray’s integrity,  intelligence, humour and talent to have tackled this Herculean task.

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Xmas Feast to Cheer 600 Homeless Pretoria People on December 25th


While so many of us will stuff ourselves and our families as well as the turkey on Christmas Day, a new initiative by two leading Pretoria food entrepreneurs will ensure many homeless people are also provided with a hearty meal.

The event will be held at the Sunnyside Catholic Church and has been sponsored by the Embassy of the UAE.

The catering will be done by the founding owner of mobile pizza firm Pizza Pilgrims, Nicky Geerts, and by the owner of Pretoria’s Harlequin Restaurant and Baracas Wine and Beer Bar, Frits Brune.

Nicky is one of the founding partners of the Alfie’s group of restaurants, was born and raised in Italy, and has trained in pizza restaurants in Naples.

It is all being put together by festive-spirited Leandre Nozipho Chulu.

“For their Xmas meal, these needy folks will be offered beef, chicken, rice, potatoes, veggies and desserts,” said Geerts.

“It is hard for those of us with a comfortable lifestyle to realise how miserable and lonely the festive season can be for the homeless.

“Our aim is to offer them a few hours of enjoyment, a filling meal, and the assurance that they are not unloved or forgotten at this special time of year.”

Among the 600 guests will be 150 homeless kids, who will be offered pizzas crafted by Nicky and his team in a mobile oven-on-wheels.



Why Such High Inequality? It’s a Family Matter.


By Mike Schussler

We see a lot of grandstanding on inequality.   But this is useless and misleading when the wrong reasons are given for such high disparities.

So what are the facts, and how do they differ from the rhetoric?

The biggest reason for the inequality we see in South Africa is the very high proportion of households without both parents.

The facts speak for themselves:

Of the thirty-six countries in the world which have one third or more households with a single parent, some thirty (or eighty-three percent) also have a Gini Coefficient of over forty.     (The Gini coefficient is the most widely-used measure of inequality)

All of these thirty countries have measured a Gini in the last two decades.

Meanwhile, look at the forty most unequal countries in the world.  You will discover that an overwhelming thirty-nine of them have above the global average for the proportion of single-parent households!

If we look at this another way round, the numbers tell another dramatic story.

In thirty-one of the forty most unequal countries, we see over thirty percent of all children aged under fifteen living in single-parent homes.

This incredible fact is never really written about, or discussed, very much.

However, if you look at the rich countries – which also tend to be more equal – they have about seventeen per cent of children staying in single-parent households. Of these, eighty-eight percent are female-headed.

In the rest of the world, we see that, on average, thirty percent of children live in single-parent households.

The average for Southern Africa is forty-five percent, while the average for the five SACU countries is sixty-three percent!

All five SACU countries are included in the list of the ten most unequal countries in the world, as can be seen in the table below:

Table 1.  The 10 most unequal countries in the world!
1 South Africa 63
2 Namibia 59,1
3 Zambia 57,1
4 The central African Republic 56,2
5 Lesotho 54,2
6 Mozambique 54
7 Botswana 53,3
8 Brazil 53,3
9 Eswatini 51,5
10 St Lucia 51,2
Source: World Bank. Data from 2003-2018

No SACU country has more than 42% of children living in a two-parent household!

Some fourteen of the sixteen countries in the Southern African Development Community, (SADC) are included in the forty-six most unequal countries in the world. Mauritius and Tanzania are the only ones in SADC which are not to considered very unequal!

This is rarely discussed in the public domain, but it is a fact.

Table 2. Percentage of families with children under 15 years which are missing at least 1 parent.
1 Eswatini 70
2 Botswana 65
3 Namibia 63
4 South Africa 59
5 Lesotho 58
6 Jamaica 52
7 Saint Lucia 50
8 Gabon 49
9 Haiti 49
10 Zimbabwe 48
Source: UN household size and Composition Around the World 2017, Data mainly from census data and ranges from the years 2003 to 2005.

Judgemental observers, who may often have a hidden agenda, fail to realise a major cause of poverty and inequality in the SADC countries is the high numbers of children living in single-parent – or even in no-parent – households.  Often this is from the impact of HIV.

Even though almost one-third of children in many countries are raised by a single mother, it is relatively difficult to find detailed data on single-parent trends and statistics, whether worldwide or nationally.

It is obvious, though, that it is far harder for single parents to make ends meet. They have to divide just one parent’s time and effort between bringing in an income and raising their children.   This is never easy.

In my opinion, the data is clear in demonstrating that the major cause of inequality is a high proportion of children living with a single parent. Unemployment, of course, is another major factor, and I will return to this in a later article.

I am amazed that so little research has been dedicated to the role of those families which are not headed by both parents.

A consequence is that when inequality is discussed, it often tends to be wrongly blamed on high earners, or on the colour of one’s skin

If we do not address the number of families without two parents, we could change every pay structure by 180 percent – and South Africa will still be one of the most unequal countries in the world!

Talk about myths and slogans.   This is the worst grandstanding we have done in South Africa and it has wronged both the citizen and the debate!

Mike Schussler is a leading economist and number cruncher.  He heads

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Can we Toque? Restaurant review. Paul, Morningside.

Even the cups are called Paul

By John Fraser

For moi, the most creative and wondrous nosh to be found in any restaurant will emanate from the pastry section.

And, certainly, any attempt to recreate/franchise/imitate/syndicate/clone the glory of Parisian patisseries in sunny SA must be welcomed.

Never having ventured into its sister Melrose Arch establishment (if a place also called Paul can be described in the feminine) I was delighted to see that a new Paul bakery has popped up in the highly-poncy Morningside mall.

Fortunately, my favourite PR lady in all the world suggested we give it a try, although we had earlier arranged to meet in the neighbouring Tashas, and I had already been seated there when she arrived, only slightly late.   Without ordering, we crossed the House to the opposition benches.

As we approached Paul, we were greeted by the allure of a glass-fronted display cabinet of pastries, and a few smiling staff, many of whom seemed to have been christened Paul, as they had that actual name on their aprons.   Impressive recruiting, mes braves.

The pastry display was attractive, yes. But lacking that extra wow-factor.  The same day I visited Spar and Checkers outlets, and neither had a pastry choice that looked too shabby compared to that of Paul.  As they should have done.

The service was very welcoming, but notre garçon seemed a bit slow in producing our simple order.

It wasn’t yet lunchtime, so Mademoiselle opted for what I assumed was a Croque Monsieur, but which looked over-bready and heavy to me.  I was told it was OK.  No need for lunch.

I opted for a chocolate éclair, the stuffing of which was over-sweet and which had a topping layer of chocolate which looked as if it had been applied by a kindergarten finger-painting class.

It was certainly edible and was certainly eaten.   But elegant Parisian patisserie perfection?  Non.

As I was leaving, I ordered a takeaway of two pains au chocolat (pronounced “chocolate cross-aunts” by the locals).    Both were excellent.   However, they were entombed in a cardboard box, itself inside an enormous paper bag.  Several forests had died so I could walk away with my twin patisseries.   This probably means that the doggy bags from Paul are large enough to accommodate an actual Alsatian.

The coffees – filter and cappuccino –  were excellent, each coming with a minute biscuit. And for some reason, we were also given some delish bread rolls and butter.   I didn’t see the bill, but I assume they were free.

I did glance at the rest of the menu, which elevates the place from a bakery to a restaurant, and I will certainly pop in again to sample a more substantial meal.  Pasta, burgers, sandwiches, a cheese board and even more hearty fare are on offer.

Looking at the wine list, the mark-ups seemed very high, but they are not unusual for the neighbourhood.     Shame that a bottle of wine of reasonable quality would force a diner at Paul to rob Peter so they could, er, pay Paul.

With a thoroughfare truncating the place, it is not quite as warm and welcoming as I would have liked, and I suspect there may be heating challenges when winter approaches.   The tables are a bit close together, as we discovered when a toddler at the next table decided to break the sound barrier.

However, I understand it was the first day the place had been open, and ours was an enjoyable visit.  (Maybe the three small bread rolls with butter had been an opening-day gift?)

Add a bit of polish to the paltry pastries at Paul, and I suspect that neighbouring Tashas (where I find the coffee much, much less enjoyable) could find itself in serious trouble.

Rating:  I give it 4*

Key to the Ratings:

1*    Dog food is nicer

2*.  Cat food is nicer

3*.  Not bad if Woolworths is sold out of ready meals.

4*.  I like it

5*.  I love it.  Not to be missed.

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Wine tasting podcast: Avondale Qvevri 2018

A luscious red

No pretension with this podcast. A group of wine enthusiasts pores over a poured glass of Cape Red, the Avondale Qvevri.

Michael Olivier introduces the wine to Cova Advisory’s Duane Newman, economist and investor Chris Hart and Clientele’s Malcolm Macdonald.

The ZA Confidential panel also discusses the joy of experimenting with new varieties of grape and the need for restaurants to be more imaginative and informative with their wine lists.

Click below and join the fun!

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Eskom: Infested with Parasites


By Anthony Turton

We have just hit Stage 6 load shedding. This is uncharted territory so let’s unpack it a little.

Some years ago, I wrote about a startling fact that few people were interested in. That simple fact was that Eskom, our national energy utility company, was running on standby generators.

Nobody responded, so I shut up and moved on, but I never stopped thinking about this simple, startling fact.

Why is our national power utility running on standby generators?

The answer is complex, but one element of that answer involves diesel fuel. You see, a lucrative contract was given to a politically connected person to supply diesel.

That diesel wasn’t the cheapest, because the ‘supplier’ never personally manufactured the diesel. They merely bought it from a real diesel supplier who wasn’t allowed to enter the game because of the rules of that game.

That game is called BEE and it has deindustrialised a country that once produced 40% of all the gold ever mined, in all of recorded history, from the Incas to modernity.

That country once pioneered the production of oil from coal. That country once pioneered the first human heart transplant and gave us the first base-bleed artillery capable of firing a tactical nuclear weapon. That country pioneered water treatment technologies that recovered safe drinking water from sewage and it produced sophisticated steels used in highly-specialised engineering processes. The list goes on, but you hopefully get the point.

South Africa used to punch above its weight and was a genuine participant in the global economy. We produced things of value. Sophisticated things. Technologically-advanced things.

Then came BEE, and it changed the rules of the game, by skewing the playing field in favour of those whose only attribute was that they were politically connected.

It actively discriminated against anyone that was creative and nimble in the field of science, engineering and technology. It incentivised the out-migration of those people, merely because the rules of the game deliberately discriminated against excellence, and rewarded those whose sole attribute was their ability to extract money without creating value. This is called rent-seeking behaviour.

The sale of diesel to run the standby generators in the national energy utility enables the extraction of money, but it creates no enduring value, so it’s inherently parasitic. It’s a textbook example of rent-seeking behaviour.

Any organism infested with parasites slowly succumbs to their voracious presence, and eventually, they become so sick that they die a miserable, lingering death.

The collapse of Eskom is imminent for all the reasons noted above. It’s deeply infested with parasites extracting money without creating value.

It’s unsustainable for the same reasons that SAA has collapsed. It, too, had the game being played about the supply of fuel at an inflated cost. But it also had the other games – of supplying toothpicks, serviettes, cookies, butter and buns – all at an inflated cost.

It, too, has separated the right of remuneration from the responsibility of productivity.

South Africa no longer produces anything of value to the world. The mining industry has collapsed, leaving a toxic landscape of hazardous waste that will poison society for the next century.

Denel, that once played at a global level in the field of sophisticated weapons systems, is collapsing after the theft of the intellectual property that used to fuel its engine.

We have become a society that creates, rewards and protects thieves. Parasitic thieves. Ambitious thieves. Greedy thieves, with an insatiable lust for money, and an aversion to honest work and creativity.

South Africa is that animal infested by parasites that extract money without creating value. That poor animal is now emaciated and sick.  Not yet dead, but feeble and suffering.

It will die, for that is inevitable, but before that, a predictable series of things will happen. Those things are inevitable, logical and therefore predictable.

I have seen them before, first-hand when other parasite-infested countries died. I saw it in the Romanian revolution that overthrew the tyranny of Nicolae Ceausescu. I saw it in the Leipzig Option that created rolling mass action to depose Erich Honecker in East Germany. I saw it in the Velvet Revolution of Czechoslovakia.

In all cases, a revolution deposed the parasitic class that had been extracting money, earned by the sweat of the people, without creating value for the nation.

I also saw it in the lingering demise of Robert Mugabe, who destroyed a proud nation because of his ruthless control over the extraction of money without the creation of value.

This is what I believe the inevitable implosion of Eskom, SAA, PRASA and every other SOE is all about.

We are witnessing the death of a destructive system called BEE, that has sucked the lifeblood from a once vibrant economy and replaced it with a new breed of oppressor, that preys on the poor and vulnerable portion of society that they once claimed to have liberated.

The oppressed have become the oppressors, and technological advancement is no longer possible as we enter the New Sanitation Dark Age, where raw sewage flows freely in many towns and cities of South Africa, and where pumps have ground to a halt because electricity production has been compromised by a class of parasite that is encouraged to supply diesel at inflated value, but is protected because of patronage.

Professor Anthony Turton is an environmental advisor, speaker and author.   This article is based on a Facebook post composed by him.

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Taxing pressure from inflation on the Suburbanites


By Mike Schussler

11th December 2019

Today, we were told SA inflation had come out at 3,6% – the lowest rate since December 2010!

But what if I were to tell you that, for a suburban dweller, inflation remains very high, and is essentially a tax on the suburban lifestyle?

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 16.27.20
Necessity Inflation: More than doubles the inflation rate in the suburbs

For our suburbanites, the basket of goods and services on which their inflation rate is calculated is made up of some things over which a parent in the suburb has no real choice – which I term necessity inflation.

It is comprised of school fees, petrol taxes, armed response, electricity, water, healthcare and medical insurance, and so on.

However, tertiary education fees and boarding fees are excluded, as these are not a necessity for most.

For petrol, this inflation includes only the South African components – such as taxes, levies and margins on fuel that the government directly controls. I accept that the actual basic fuel prices are not something that the government can control.

Generally, necessity inflation can be summed up as a measure of the price which is required to have your kids in reasonable education, your health security and the cost of getting to work.

Then it includes the basics of life – such as water and power, which are needed to survive – and property taxes we have to pay.  I have left out tobacco and alcohol as those incur taxes on indulgences that one can do without. Or so I am told.

I also left out VAT, personal income tax, and so on.

Anyway, necessity inflation is nothing but a tax on people for maintaining their standard of living, for wanting the right to quality education and health care – avoiding the death traps that are ironically called ‘public health’ facilities.

This part of the inflation mix has never been inside the inflation targets since the current calculation method started in 2009.

It is a screaming indictment of the failure of government, with people frightened by low standards and poor service delivery by the state.

Globally, education, security and health care are generally considered essential services that most countries try to excel at.

Not so in South Africa, where the body count from murder is extreme, while women dare not go out at night due to fear of attack.

Our fee-free schools have bad reputations, and SA’s results in international comparisons show outcomes that are so poor that most governments would react by resigning in disgust. Not ours.

Public health is a lottery, as admitted publicly by health department officials. Privately, some have whispered it could even be a crime against humanity.

Water and power are no longer of the same quality as before – but in price terms, they have increased far above most things (See 10-year graph below).

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 16.29.53
Massive jumps in the prices of suburban necessities

I also assume the suburban consumer is honest and pays for her water and lights, and needs a car – as safe and reliable public transport is often not available to the suburban public.

The simple truth is that it is expensive to live in the suburbs and to want a reasonable quality of education, health and security. I certainly define ‘reasonable’ as just average, or even just fairly close to a liveable standard of living.

This is not a matter of race. My black suburban neighbours all want the same basic standards for their families.

So suburban South Africans who want even mildly reasonable security, schooling and health find themselves in an effective tax trap – having to pay again for the things they should normally expect to be provided by the state.  These prices increase far above other components of inflation further enslaving the working middle class.

Suburbanites are thus prisoners of a failed regime, deprived of the human right to fair standards of health, education and freedom from fear.

In contrast to necessary inflation, demand-side inflation – the upward price pressure on goods and services – is now in free-fall due to near-zero GDP growth.

Indeed, it is pretty evident that deflation is happening in the demand side of the economy, whose weighting is nearly 80% of the national inflation basket.

Demand-side inflation has been below 6% since April 2009, and is not the problem! The demand inflation of people living in SA’s suburbs is lower than the inflation rates in the EU, the US or Japan.

It is the other 20% of inflation, the necessity inflation, which pushes the headline inflation far higher.

From the demand side – the choice side – consumers generally get great value for money, with very reasonable food and clothing prices.

Freedom of choice has led to lower prices, but fears have increased the overall inflation level for many – due to their need for essential services.

This is the unfortunate situation the suburbanites are in. The headline inflation rate is far lower than the actual inflation they suffer (see the first chart), because of all the extras they need to compensate for the state’s failed delivery.

Inflation at 3,6%?  Pull the other one!

Mike Schussler is a leading South African economist and data analyst.

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South African Airways saga puts a spotlight on the role of directors


Maleka Femida Cassim, University of Pretoria

The board of South Africa’s national airlines recently took a unanimous decision to go into voluntary business rescue. The step removes the threat of the directors being sued by creditors for reckless trading – for now, at least.

The airline told its staff two weeks ago that it wouldn’t be able to pay staff salaries. It had become increasingly clear that the airline was in deep financial trouble. From available evidence – including information passed to the parliament’s standing committee on public accounts – the airline continued to trade even though it was technically insolvent and unable to pay its creditors.

If it is found that the airline continued to trade in insolvent circumstances, South African Airways could be guilty of reckless or fraudulent trading under the Companies Act. Fraudulent trading is when a company continues to trade and incurs debts when its directors know there is no chance of it ever being able to pay its debts. This is both a criminal offence and a civil matter.

Reckless trading is where the directors do not know, but should reasonably have known, that the company was unable to pay its creditors. Reckless trading is a civil offence.

These laws apply to state-owned enterprises too. Even though the government, as the shareholder of the airline, would have had a say over the board, it is the board that is legally accountable for the solvency of the company.

Breaches of company law have potentially serious legal consequences for the board of directors. Trading in insolvent circumstances means that the directors could be personally liable for the losses sustained by the airline. They could also, at worst, find themselves behind bars if they are found by a court to have traded fraudulently.

But there could perhaps be mitigating factors for the South African Airways board. For instance, there was some uncertainty about whether loan guarantees and additional financial support from the government would be made available to the airline.

Nevertheless, the Companies Act stipulates that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that a company is solvent falls squarely on the directors – regardless of whether it is state-owned.

The South African Airways saga serves as a warning to directors of other state-owned entities, such as the power utility Eskom and the South African Broadcasting Corporation, to be as mindful as directors of private companies or public companies of their fiduciary responsibilities.

There are four ways in which directors can be held responsible for reckless or fraudulent trading.

Four ways directors can be held liable

First, the directors can be held personally liable for any losses or debts sustained by a company as a consequence of their reckless trading. This means that they are at risk of having to compensate the company out of their own pockets.

In my book on company law remedies, I explained that the directors could be sued for this compensation by trade unions, or by other stakeholders. They could do this by using what is called the derivative action on the company’s behalf. This a powerful weapon for stakeholders. It empowers them to sue the directors on behalf of the company to recover compensation for the company itself.

Stakeholders may, for example, use the derivative action when the directors are not complying with their legal duties to the company.

For example, the Lewis Group, a large South African furniture retailer, was recently subjected to derivative proceedings brought against it by a shareholder, David Woollam. He sought to bring the derivative action to hold the Lewis directors accountable for lack of corporate governance and various other matters. He was unsuccessful in his efforts, but the case underscored the potential use of the mechanism.

The derivative action is available in a wide range of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The second way in which directors can be held accountable is by having criminal charges laid against them for fraudulent trading under the Companies Act. The act makes provision for directors to be fined or imprisoned for as long as ten years if they are found to have traded fraudulently.

Thirdly, the Companies Act requires the court to declare directors delinquent if they trade recklessly or fraudulently. A delinquency order has severe consequences. It bars a person from being a director for at least seven years, or even for a lifetime.

Fourthly, creditors can hold the board of directors personally responsible for the company’s debts. They could claim the amounts that the company owes to them from the directors personally.

Business rescue

The board of South African Airways has gained some valuable breathing space by passing a resolution to put the airline under business rescue. This could serve to protect the directors from being sued for reckless or fraudulent trading. And it will protect the airline from any attempts by creditors to liquidate the company.

But the initiation of business rescue does not necessarily mean that the airline’s board is free of the consequences if it is found to have violated the Companies Act. This will only become clear as the business rescue attempt unfolds.

If the business rescue is successful, the directors are likely to avoid personal responsibility for trading recklessly or fraudulently. But if the attempts at rescuing the business fail, and the airline has to be put into liquidation, there is a risk that the directors would be held personally liable for the airline’s debts.

Likewise, resignation does not free directors from liability for any reckless trading that took place while they were on the board.

This all shows that the boards of all companies – including state-owned entities – must be careful, and must not allow the company to trade in insolvent circumstances.The Conversation

Maleka Femida Cassim, Professor of Company Law, University of Pretoria

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Can we Toque? Restaurant review: Dosa Hut, Fourways.

A dose-a deliciousness

By John Fraser

I have never been to India, apart from a refuelling stop (the plane, not me) at what was then Bombay airport.  So what do I know about Indian food?

Well, I do know it is complex, incredibly varied and often magnificent.

Fortunately, my sari-swinging Indian chum had spotted that an offshoot of the Fordsburg-based Dosa Hut had opened in Fourways, and she was determined to force-feed me my first-ever dose-a dosa.  (A dosa is a crispy pancake-like wrap).

She knows her Indian food and had chosen well.  This was the real thing.

The place displayed a few teething pains, but the food was brill.

I had a chicken dosa, which was a bit lacking in chicken, but which had all the right flavours, with three dipping sauces and a fiery kick.  A baptism of fire, but in a nice, lip-smacking way.

Our group also tried a masala dosa, a superb bean curry, and an excellent veggie biriani. We each finished with a very small but very, very enjoyable kulfi.

The next table was devouring a bunny-chow each, the Durban delight which consists of half a loaf, hollowed out and filled with curry (which is what we ignorant westerners call an Indian dish with a gravy).

And then I ordered another six dishes to take-away.    With rotis, which were superb.

The food, then, was authentic, excellent, and it was superb value for money.   Five out of five on the yum scale.

What wasn’t great?    The waiter was slow, unanimated, unwelcoming and awful.  Not that I blamed him.   He had clearly received little training, and the management seemed to be so obsessed with fitting out the new vast restaurant that they had given scant attention to trivial things…like customer satisfaction.

Of great personal sadness, however, was the inadequacy of the wine list.   When I say inadequate, it is an understatement.  There was no wine list.

The place is halaal.    Booze-free.    No wine, no beer.  The waiter mumbled something about the place next door selling alcohol, but I decided that as I was driving anyway,  I would opt for water.

For me, this is a big failing.  I have no wish to force anyone to partake of the nectar of the Gods (my God anyway), but I resent their insistence that their prophet should dictate whether or not I enjoy a beer with my curry.

When I return – and I shall – I will order a massive tonic water, with ice and lemon.

You may already have guessed what I will be carrying in the flask in my top pocket.

Rating:  I give it 4*

Key to the Ratings….

1*    Dog food is nicer

2*.  Cat food is nicer

3*.  Not bad if Woolworths is sold out of ready meals.

4*.  I like it

5*.  I love it.  Not to be missed.

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