SA Launched Investor Conference with a Red Flag and Red Faces

Investors beware

By John Fraser

It was a classic ‘Send in the Clowns’ scenario when the SA government hosted a series of sessions for investors this Tuesday.

Coming at the start of Cyril Ramaphosa’s two-day (actually two-half-days) Investment Conference, the afternoon panel discussion sessions, each headed by a relevant minister, were meant to inform and entice potential investors.

However it was more red flag than red carpet.

The Energy session, the first one I planned to follow, was due to kick-off at 2pm and I logged in. The discussions were all online due to COVID concerns.

I was told I was the only participant. So I tried again, and again……..

Eventually, with my blood pressure at boiling point, I received an e-mail telling me there were problems, giving me links from which I could access the discussions.

Now, had I been a mildly interested investor, I would have run a mile. As it was, the discussion was polluted by technological glitches – for instance the Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had trouble hearing what was going on. And he mumbled as usual, making him hard to follow.

It was a mess. No sale.

But it didn’t improve much.

I next listened-in to the Infrastructure session.

The link was opened-up prematurely and for several minutes I – and anyone else who was tuned in – could follow a lengthy load of twaddle as they prepared to go live. Not realising they were already live.

Ouch!

Finally, it was the turn of Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel to chair a session on Manufacturing in Africa.

Due to the initial mess-up, this started very late.

Unlike the lady chairman of the earlier infrastructure session, he did not send everyone to sleep by laboriously reading out the CVs of participants. If you only have an hour, you should forgo some of the foreplay. He knew that. She didn’t.

Once again, this session was beset by technical difficulties. It, too, went live prematurely.

Initially, Patel could not be seen as his signal was weak.

The chairman of the IDC – arguably an important panelist – never showed. Technology is clearly not her strong-point.

If I understood him properly, Patel justified the technical carnage by saying it is always useful to give some local bunch a chance to shine. Sadly, this lot shone like a black hole.

Content wise, this was an excellent, informative, impressive session.

It is just a shame that by failing to meet the technology challenge, they reached for the stars.

And shot themselves in the foot.

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A Pinotage Podcast: Beyerskloof in a Box.

A box wine upgrade

By John Fraser

Typical. I chair a podcast where I rant about brainless lockdown restrictions on booze sales. Then Cyril rushes onto national TV to relax the restrictions.

So ignore that bit.

But do please listen in to our thoughts on an excellent wine in a Woolworths box – the Beyerskloof pinotage.

Wine writer Michael Olivier joins former café owner Duane Newman and former restaurateur Mike Schussler (both now have proper jobs) for our tasting.

Those with intelligence and refinement may listen in by clicking below:

If you enjoyed this discussion, do subscribe to ZA Confidential:   http://www.zaconfidential.com

Do also check out:  http://www.michaelolivier.co.za

We taste a Woolworths white wine in a (leaking) box

The box? I would rather take the money.

by John Fraser

The wine was great, but the post-tasting was a disaster.

Soon after we finished recording a podcast discussion on a premium wine in a box from Woolworths, it became clear my box was not premium. It was crap. It started leaking.

Bear this in mind when you hear the doubts raised in the discussion about the whole concept.

The lovely wine was the Pierre Jourdan Tranquille Blush. The tasters were Michael Olivier, Duane Newman and Mike Schussler.

While you click below to give it a listen, I must head off to Woolworths to get my money back….

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SA treading water on Cyril’s investment drive

Minister Ebrahim Patel. Unmasked at last.

By John Fraser

It won’t be a non-event, but ‘SA Investment Conference 3’ – with a masked hero in the form of our beloved President – will see little fresh flow of dosh into Cyril’s begging bowl.

Through no fault of our government – although I still have my doubts about their bosom buddies in Beijing – the world is a very different place with the Covid-19 epidemic sweeping through global boardrooms.   More cash for a new factory in SA may not be front of mind of many CEOs at the moment.   

Despite this, the Minister for Conferences Ebrahim Patel gave a performance which was more plucky than plucked when this Covid veteran met the media in the flesh today for the first time in many, many months.  Many, many, many, many months.

Ok, there were only about three of we hacks in the room with him, with most following it from their bedrooms, bureaux or brothels – but at least he was there.  I was able to go up to him and shout for a while afterwards about his department’s communications failings.  It felt good.  And we both practiced safe Covid.

His message is that with a cumulative R664bn having been pledged at the previous two conferences, out of a total target to R1.2trillion, we have been ahead of target.  So less pressure this time, and expectations can be lowered without the whole project being derailed.

There will be some fresh pledges this time round, the President can rub elbows with some corporate fat cats.  But the main focus will be on moving previous pledges into actual projects. 

Patel said R170bn of the already-pledged investment is already “flowing through the pipeline”.   The main task this month is to ensure the investment tide does not go out again.    Not allowing all the other precious pledges to vanish down the Presidential plug-hole.

Patel says there have been no cancellations – and we must take him at his word – that the imminent AfCFTA continental clone of the EU will bring wealth and investment opportunities, and that the 2-day Investment Conference will allow SA to show the world that the door is open.  We want your investment.  A lot.

Just wash your hands, wear a mask, and give your cheques a good spray of sanitiser before you hand them over.   

Patel and Cyril will be gratefully, gleefully grinning behind their masks.   We promise.

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Mini budget unpacked

By John Fraser

Join legendary economist Mike Schussler from economists.co.za and tax specialist Duane Newman from Cova Advisory for an expert analysis of the mini-budget.

Watch us on YouTube here.

If you enjoyed this article, do subscribe to ZA Confidential.   It will cost you far less than the mini budget.  In fact, it will cost you nothing as long as you sign up before or during the Apocalypse.