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Keeping Doors 0pen During Covid-19

It has become increasingly obvious over the last few months that one of the most important things, when dealing with Covid-19, is to ensure fresh circulation of air.  The virus floats in the air, and people who work, or congregate in a closed area, such as a nightclub, are the most at risk.  Open air, or creating a flow of air in and out of a building, is obviously the best place to find oneself. 

In that regard, all of my staff are encouraged to keep all of their windows and the doors of the offices open.  It may not seem convenient during the colder months, although truthfully Johannesburg and Pretoria have wonderful weather in the late morning and early afternoon on any given day, but it's the right thing to do.  One can always dress for the weather, and if it means that the offices are colder than normal, but safe, that's clearly the most sensible option.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 05-Aug-20   |  Permalink   |  14 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Universal income grant

The government is suggesting a universal basic income grant from October.  It will be R1,270 (if they are targeting South Africa’s poverty line) a month and target about 33 million people.   I actually like the idea of that as an experiment because I think it could get spending going again in the economy.  A lot of countries do it in a different way – largely by printing money and I don’t think many people appreciate just how much money the American government has basically printed and given to all of those who have lost their jobs during this time.  All those who have lost their jobs have been given an extra Covid-19 grant of $600 a week on top of the basic income grant and close to 30 million people have received it.  That is something quite large and a lot of that money is spent back into the economy. 

I am not sure whether that type of thing works on a long-term basis, but this would be a good chance to try it as an experiment and then after a 6 month period reassess it.  The other side though of course is once people benefit from it, they very seldom are prepared to see that it is taken away from them.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 28-Jul-20   |  Permalink   |  34 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Zimbabwean farmers to be paid

It appears that Zimbabwe’s white commercial farmers, who were all thrown off their land years ago, are finally going to actually get some compensation.  The seizure of their land and just handing it out to all sorts of politically connected people, not to mention alleged former freedom fighters, etc, is what really destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy.  Almost 90% of the population does not actually have formal employment, inflation is at 800% and there are shortages of all sorts of basics such as food and petrol.  The deal has not been agreed to yet, but the Zimbabwean government is apparently offering now to pay the farmers $3,5 billion.  Where exactly Zimbabwe is going to obtain that money is another question altogether and for many whose lives have been ruined it is too little too late.  On the other hand, I had a terribly unpleasant experience at the hands, and on the farm, of a white Zimbabwean farmer, so I do certainly hope that he, who probably also had his farm confiscated some time after us stayed there, was not representative of the farming community as a whole.   Ultimately, it is an admission by the Zimbabwean government that confiscating the lands was not a good idea and that also sends the signal to the South African government and South African farmers where this topic is still discussed from time to time.  It certainly did not work out for the Zimbabwean government and then years later for agreeing to pay out the farmers, even if it is not the $10 billion they have claimed, shows you how desperate they must be to bring this dispute to an end. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 21-Jul-20   |  Permalink   |  36 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Covid-19 now

As we know, from State President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech, we now get 12,000 new cases everyday or about 500 new infections every hour.  Covid-19 is really spreading very fast through South Africa and all of those who had theories, some of which sounded great, about not temperatures not allowing Covid-19 to spread or the BCG vaccinations we were all given, have obviously seen those theories shot to pieces.  South Africa is not special in terms of avoiding Covid-19 and all the theories that were circulated have all turned out to be absolute nonsense. 

Part of the problem in South Africa is that a lot of people have been ignoring the social distancing rules and congregating in big groups even when they are collecting food supplies.  People continued to attend funerals and as the State President mentioned some funerals have more than 1,000 people in attendance. As long as this continues and as long as people continue to ignore basics such as washing their hands and wearing masks, the virus will continue to spread.

Sadly South Africa, according to the State President, has a shortage of more than 12,000 health workers, mostly nurses but also doctors and physiotherapists.  Some of them of course have left South Africa to go overseas where they get better opportunities and again, they don’t have to deal with CCMA regulations and some of the nonsense that one has to deal with in South Africa.  At least now there is some sense and instead of going to a higher alert level the President said, “… that taking the step now would not necessarily achieve a significant reduction in the rate of transmission and would come at an extraordinary economic cost, putting more livelihoods at risk and potentially causing long-lasting social harm.”  Is that not exactly what I said when we got the most ridiculous lockdown in the world?  Did it achieve anything?  Less than 1,000 cases became how many cases?  People could not get food and started standing in long lines, close to each other, singing and dancing and spreading the disease further.  We achieved absolutely nothing with that lockdown and it is a good thing that we are not doing things that way, but a curfew is important. 

In particular, people need to understand that the days of going to nightclubs and bars are absolutely over until there is a vaccine and those types of businesses should not and cannot be allowed to reopen.  Should you be able to drink at home – yes, but there is no basis to go and stand together at a bar and meet new people.  Let’s be honest, a lot of the young people we are hearing about catching the disease are not just getting it from breathing too closely to somebody else – they are actually kissing somebody else because it is very hard to lock up young people for a long time, and they do want to get out, meet each other and have a good time and that is precisely what is spreading the disease now so quickly between young people.

On the other hand, it is true that South Africa has a terrible problem with alcohol and that the vast majority of deaths do, as the State President said, happen at night after people have been drinking.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 16-Jul-20   |  Permalink   |  43 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Pilots getting retrenched

It is amazing that only few years ago we are hearing that the huge shortages that we are about to face with pilots.  Many around the world are retiring and it is expensive to become a pilot, so they were struggling to recruit new young pilots.  Of course, that situation will turn around later, but one of the world’s biggest airlines, and I am not going to talk about all the problems that South African Airways always have, because that is just a never-ending drama, has just notified their pilots that retrenchments are  coming. Delta Airlines have encouraged 7,900 of their older pilots to accept an early retirement package, and then have notified another 2,600 pilots that depending on how many of the 7,900 accept the early retirement package, some of them may need to be laid off.  It is important to understand, in a country like America, when you are laid off there is not really any payment.  They just lay you off and that’s that – there is no system of one month plus one week’s notice per year that you worked, etc – another area where South African businesses struggle to compete on an international basis because of our laws.  Employees might like them, but it keeps a large percentage of the country unemployed and that then has its impact on crime.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 07-Jul-20   |  Permalink   |  45 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
The electric revolution continues - airplanes now

While we in South Africa have still not got Teslas, despite the fact that it is now the biggest company in the world by market capitalisation, the electric revolution continues.   Recently in America a company, Magnix, entered the history books with the first electric flight of a modified Cessna airplane.  I am always thinking about buying a boat and it is very frustrating that all of them at the moment are diesel run – you can rest assured in 10 or 15 years’ time there are going to be lots of electric options and we need to start making those types of choices for our environment.  It is obviously a long way before there will be lots of aeroplanes that are flying with electric engines, but it is certainly the way of the future and I very much doubt, apart from Africa, and other developing economies, that there will be that many gasoline cars around by 2030.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 30-Jun-20   |  Permalink   |  39 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Taxi's want R4 billion

I am shocked that the taxi bosses were even offered R1,1 billion in Covid-19 relief by the Government, let alone that they rejected it.  They are apparently demanding R20,000 per taxi per month of the lockdown - and with 200,000 taxis in SA this will total approximately R4 billion.

My problem is not that industries should not get help, but my problem is that I don’t think that the taxi business is very regulated or paying very much tax in the first place. Strangely enough, none of the write-ups on the taxi industry even refer to that at all. The taxi industry has always been the one industry in South Africa that people are terrified to challenge because we know exactly how they have sorted out disputes over routes in the past – with guns and just killing people.  The taxi industry has also announced increases on taxi fares between 10% and 25% nationwide, but already many of us have seen taxi drivers flouting the rules on fewer passengers and just totally disregarding them. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 24-Jun-20   |  Permalink   |  47 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Transport Department asks for extra funds

The Transport Department has asked for additional funding for a number of the entities that it is in charge of.  Those include the Road Accident Fund – for whom they have asked for R17,2 billion.  I am not sure if that full amount will be given, but the Road Accident Fund is not being well-run now, and the cash flow situation there is obviously, as we all know, not going well – to put it mildly. 

Apparently, the head of the department, Alec Moemi, said they were negotiating with the National Treasury not just for the Road Accident Fund but also for ACSA, SACCA and SANRAL.  The Road Accident Fund suffered a massive loss in fuel levy during the lockdown and had a financial shortage before that in any event.  Moemi also said that the Road Accident Fund posed a threat to the national fiscus.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 19-Jun-20   |  Permalink   |  41 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Can South Africa afford another shut down?

I have always said that until a vaccine is found, its going to get down to a choice between saving lives and jobs.  South Africa is one of those countries where no jobs could mean more people dying than from a coronavirus.  I am not surprised that people are getting tired of some of the strictest quarantine conditions in the world.
I think most people know that until a vaccine is found there is very little we can do to guarantee we won’t get the disease other than stay at home and not allow anyone we live with in or out.  Most people do not want to live that way and many cannot afford to live that way.  Our economy and resources are not big enough to carry on like we have been, or for another shut down at a later stage.
Many have lost their jobs, many more are not being paid or will continue to not earn anything and that is going to stop them being able to feed their families or get appropriate healthcare when they need it.  We cannot bring our economy and our country to its knees, for months on end, in order to save those that may die otherwise.  It’s a terrible choice to have to make but by re-opening that is the decision that is effectively being made.  People who are most at risk can’t rely on everyone else to stay inside to keep them safe – they themselves need to stay indoors and not venture out and take risks.
We need to be careful, we need to try and live more healthily and to take steps ourselves to protect our families but a shutdown hasn’t achieved much and I don’t think we can afford it again.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 09-Jun-20   |  Permalink   |  51 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
What next for Airbnb?

I have friends who are professional hosts on Airbnb.  Managing a number of properties and renting them out – and you can just imagine how that business is doing now.  Cancellations and refunds and nobody travelling.  The people they employ have been laid off and they are sustaining massive losses.  Many people rent properties and then put them on Airbnb at a mark up for a few days at a time and all of them are stuck paying their leases.  If they don’t pay their rent the landlords who own the properties won’t be able to pay their mortgages and one cant imagine what that will do to the banks.

For businesses like that, a “return to work” doesn’t change things for them at all.  Until people start traveling again – and decide they want to live in other people’s houses in some cases or share accommodation the Airbnb model is going to be a disaster.  Airbnb was meant to list on the stock exchange later this year – that’s unlikely now and the company itself has had to borrow money.

I give this just as an example of just one business – and the many people around the world who make money out of it – that has been severely damaged by the shutdown.  There are going to be many companies around the world that are not going to make it through this. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 04-Jun-20   |  Permalink   |  54 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
The end of cheques

I don’t think cheques are going to last much longer in South Africa. Strangely enough, in many countries around the world, they are not associated with fraud and are a perfectly acceptable means of payment.  However, when the banks announced, as they did at the beginning of May, that they will no longer accept a cheque for more than R50,000, they made it quite impossible to use a cheque to pay 

for any substantial purchase or even a deposit on a house.  Cheques certainly have their good points and it is really easy to prove a payment by getting a copy of a cheque.  For some reason a proof of payment printed out from a bank account never really looks the same, but there has been so much fraud involving cheques in South Africa that it is not a surprise that the banks really want to minimise their involvement with them. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 01-Jun-20   |  Permalink   |  55 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Anti-vaxxers starting again

It is amazing, with no actual vaccine even in sight for Covid-19, how the anti-vaccination forces are already starting.  There have been a lot of people over the years who have tried to discredit vaccinations and complain that they lead to autism and all sorts of other things when there is absolutely no scientific proof at all.  Unfortunately we are living in a world now where people believe that they are entitled to their opinions, regardless of the facts. 

Amongst the latest conspiracy theories is that Bill Gates and others planned for this virus and other ridiculous stories led to people in the UK burning down 5G cell phone towers believing that they cause coronavirus!  It is sad that we live in a world like that and that some people, for  whatever reasons, are going to make sure that by the time we do have a vaccine for Covid-19 that some people will not want to take it, because they would have been told some stories.  Lets all remember – at that time – that the stories against “it” started now - long before there was a vaccine – so people are already opposed to something that does not exist and whose ingredients or formula we do not even know!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 28-May-20   |  Permalink   |  35 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
Have you been injured in a motor accident?
Recent Settlements
Lumbar spine compression fractures R2 500 000.00
Severe hip fracture requiring total hip replacements R3 305 000.00
Head injury with disfiguring facial scaring of a young female R4 000 000.00
Whiplash and compression fracture of the spine R4 000 000.00
Broken Femora R1 914 416.00
Broken Femur and Patella R770 881.15
Loss of Support for two minor children R2 649 968.00
Fracture of the right Humerus, fracture of the pubi rami, abdominal injuries, head injury R4 613 352.95
Fracture of the right femur, Fracture of the right tibia-fibula R1 200 000.00
Broken Jaw, Right Shoulder Injury, Mild head injury R1 100 000.00
Degloving injuries to the hips, legs and ankle R877 773.00
Head injury R 2 734 295.12
Fractured pelvis R1 355 881.53
Damaged tendons in left arm R679 688.03
Fractured left hand R692 164.48
Amputated right lower leg with loss of income R3 921 000.00
Fractured left foot R600 000.00
Head injury and multiple facial fractures R5 000 000.00
Head injury, compound fracture right femur, right tib and fib fracture, and injury to the spleen R4 529 672.06
Head injury, multiple facial fractures, collapsed lung and a fracture to the right frontal bone R2 890 592.77
Loss of support R5 144 000.00


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