Brewer's Droop #238

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First: A word about research….It’s always wrong. Always.

I looked at the various reports about “most watched” programmes recently and didn’t believe them so I decided to do a poll of my own.

I sent out a questionnaire to all of my friends and these were the answers (broadly in my own LSM group):

1 – QI 1%
2 – Cilla 2%
3 – Naked bowling from Benoni 3%
4 – Can’t remember 95%

(The percentages don’t add up because nobody watches QI except me – and I don’t count).


I’ve made a few predictions in my blogs over the years. Some were more or less right, some were wrong and some were right on the money.

Here are another two.

Number One:

Now that the country is slipping inexorably from democracy into total chaos – following a series of crises including the government’s total disregard for the Rule of Law and Parliament becoming unmanageable, my money’s on a future dictatorship. Zuma will still be in charge 40 years from now.

It’s not as stupid as it sounds (and if I’d said it 20 years ago when South Africa was raising the democracy bar so high that the rest of the world simply applauded Mandela, you’d think I was stupid).

Think about it. He’s had lessons from Bob. He’s got all “his” people in place and there are precedents being set all over the continent (he’s already tossed out the ICC because it keeps “picking on African states” so why not just do it the way his Dictator mates do it?)

Having thought about it, I wonder if you’ll reach the same conclusions?

Number Two:

SAA simply has to be sold – and it has to be sold soon. The country can’t afford it.

18 months ago the bloke in charge of SAA at the time (Monwabisi Kalawe I think it was) promised the airline would be “profitable in four years”. We all laughed again and predicted the airline would HAVE to be sold before then. But they haven’t done that – they just paid off yet another executive and brought a replacement in.

This new one (Nico Bezuidenhout) says SAA will be “profitable within three years.” (Come on now, stop giggling and pay attention.) Sadly, he bases that premise on all conditions remaining equal, which of course they won’t. SAA is not prepared for and does not have enough resources to deal with any “unexpected” crisis.

But wait! Perhaps they do. Of course, their personal bankers – the Cabinet! How foolish of me to forget that. Every year, it seems, you and me and all the other taxpayers hand over our hard earned cash so that several BILLION Rands can be given to SAA as yet another “bail out”. (The irony is that you and I can’t afford to even fly SAA – which we, by rights, own – so we use any one of a number of other airlines who fly South Africans to Europe for half the price of SAA – and BA for that matter).

I’m sure that Nico Bezuidenhout is a clever and confident businessman – but eventually he’ll have to do what the idiots above him tell him to do. At which point he’ll resign, get a golden parachute, and we’ll get another CEO who announces another year of losses (R2.7 Billion this year by the way) and requests another bail out.

This government thinks it can convince the public that SAA is a good business for them to be in – in much the same way as swimming pools are great fire-fighting resources or chicken runs are excellent security devices.

We all know this for certain: Government should never, ever, EVER, be in business.

Check out these numbers. I don’t know if they’re true or not but they look right. Now THIS is the reason SAA is losing money. Nico’s said he’s going to do a “head count reduction” (in English this means people are going to lose jobs). I wonder if he’ll be allowed to do that?

1) QANTAS (Australian) 32 500 employees with a total of 252 aircraft = 129 employees per aircraft

2) American Airlines 87 897 employees with a total of 618 aircraft = 142 employees per aircraft

3) Delta Airlines 106 216 employees with a total of 722 aircraft = 147 employees per aircraft

4) British Airways 36 832 employees with a total of 238 aircraft = 154 employees per aircraft

5) United Airlines 115 149 employees with a total of 710 aircraft = 162 employees per aircraft

6) South African Airways 55 500 employees with a total of 58 aircraft = 957 employees per aircraft

In 2004 Eskom had 28,000 employees and there was power.

In 2014 Eskom had 46,000 employees and there’s not enough power.

If you’ve read this far then you may be thinking that I’m a pessimist but I’m not. Honest. I really do believe in the Rainbow Nation and the willingness of ALL South Africans (except for some politicians of course) to get this country back on to the right track.

We’re all very privileged to share such a beautiful place.

Anyway, Sylvester the Lion is safe and we have the World Cup to look forward to (and win again).

Snuggle up!


Filed as:


  1. Yes I agree that it will all be ok in the end but its painful in the meantime. As for SAA, a hopeless case.

  2. further to above comment …”and if its not alright in the end then its not the end” (With apologies to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

  3. And when Zuma and Malema shake and make up in time for a majority in the next elections …. Not pretty picture …

    • Yeah, now that IS a bit of a worry.

  4. I was always under the impression that Zuma and his-fellow thieves all had their heads, and filthy fingers in the tax payers sand box. But now I am convinced that their heads are all up each others arse, looking for a Verwoed or Van Riebeek look alike to blame.
    Blatter has revealed that he is clean and that he will go to heaven. Well I doubt if he will ever meet any of the present SA Government reps. there!

  5. I am not for a moment justifying SAA’s bloated operation, but the numbers you quote of 55,000 staff are 5 times inflated. Including ground staff and technical is around 11,000. (see
    Let’s knock them for their bad practices and gov’t bail-outs, for sure, but let’s also get our facts straight too and not join the band-waggon of exaggerating paranoias.

    • To quote your own source Steve….”based on the published annual reports; there are gaps and some inconsistencies, largely because the reports vary year by year in the information given, and because figures are frequently restated in subsequent years.” Draw your own conclusions.

  6. You must be a great economist: This morning They sold their Vodacom shares to pay the Eskom excesses.

    • They sold the shares for less than they’re worth – which is why Governments should not be allowed to pretend to be businessmen.

  7. I love Qi: my go-to when I feel glum. I don’t have a TV, but watch it on my PC.
    Agree about the Zuma dictatorship; it’s been heading that way since Andries Titane lost his life.
    SAA: well SAA is the source of radically discounted tickets to the state; its asset is our liability.
    There’s really nothing worth saying about Eskom, other than the state has sold an asset to fund a liability.

    • I like that: “…sold an asset to fund a liability.” Well said.

  8. Research is often like lies and statistics.

    But precedents and trends are something more tangible. The question is, why should SA not follow the autocratic regimes that have happened in just about every other African state after independence?

  9. naked bowling?

    • No little quips about “balls” then Roger? You’re slipping!

  10. I know that this may make me sound like a paranoid old apartheid era scaremonger (pasop vir dir rooi gevaar and all that) but this unholy alliance between the ANC, COSATU and the Communist Party is to blame for our very rapid descent. They will never stop artificially creating “work” in the public sector, nor will they sell off unprofitable SOEs. It is up to the private sector to keep things afloat.
    By the way QI is great.

  11. I thought I’d had so many conversations with you about QI -favourite episodes and so on. Is it my memory… or yours?

    • Mine. Definitely mine.


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