The beautiful seaside town of Hermanus has not been spared the ravages of land invasions. The accusation is that people have waited for houses for 20 years and are now completely impatient. Having the unrest close to you is nerve-racking and our hearts went out to the peaceful residents who live in Zwelishle. As is so often the case, they bear the brunt of the ire of the crowd and get beaten and even to death [3 cases as we understand] for simply going to work. The local churches have set up Safe Shelters and we are feeding and caring mainly for those who feel completely unsafe going back home. The Housing MEC flew in yesterday to meet with the protesters and things seem quieter [27/3/2018]. Let’s hope that sanity prevails and that justice is served both for criminals who have looted and assaulted, but also for genuine cases of long-delayed housing delivery. Our Municipality has assured us that we are one of the most progressive house-building local governments so we must take them at their word at this stage. What I can say is that in the last three years many homes have been built and many are under construction, but obviously, not enough for the Eastern Cape and foreign people who have semigrated into the Cape in general. The irony of irony is always the burning of buildings – the satellite police station which could have provided protection and investigation and the other, the….wait for it…..the Housing Department. The latter holds the lists of Awaiting Houses people. So let’s hope there’s back-up in this crucial area.

All of this speaks to the Land issue with its component parts:

– Vacant land;

– Services;

– Service delivery of existing housing, and;

– Housing construction and delivery to the properly prioritized people.

To the latter pair, does anyone know if the government has completed the delivery of title deeds to the so-called “matchbox” houses in Soweto? If not, that’s a scandal of immense proportions as long-time residents of those houses could have formed a symbolic body of homeowners able to benefit from the wealth creation of their properties.

God knows, the Land issue is now worldwide. Detaches delivered to the Australian government do not help and the lack of comprehensive, understandable, compelling communication to every global stakeholder is vital. You don’t redistribute land even with compensation, never mind without, by passing a resolution at the ANC Elective Conference and then go quiet on all of our major trading and investment partners. Little wonder that the Australians, who are building a nation of highly skilled and vetted immigrants, have taken the gap of practically inviting our farmers to apply for visas. Sensationalism aside, we have some of the finest agricultural skills and expertise in the world and most certainly in a water-scarce country, which Australia also happens to be. Until we realize in Home Affairs that Skill is a globally competitive commodity, we will not replenish the hundreds of thousands of people who have left for other lands. It is not about race or ethnicity – if you stand on a Vancouver street corner, you will be shocked at the number of Asian folks who have immigrated there. Where did they come from? Hong Kong certainly, and in the face of the uncertainty of the British handover to China. Skills walk and Money talks.

Shew! That was a headful to get on paper. So why do it? Well, the price of property will be linked to the long-term affordability of our population. While everyone will not be rich, everyone can own an home appropriate to their affordability. As is obvious, the home is first of all shelter, second of all family security and sense of being, but thirdly, a source of wealth creation. We can remind ourselves that for most people, their pension and their home are their ability to retire – one or the other missing and the prospects will look bleak. We will never progress our nation until it catches the dream of the likes of Joe Slovo who set the goal to build 1000000 houses by 2000 and succeeded, even posthumously, to beat that goal. The American Dream of home ownership was not motherhood and apple pie, it was about the mighty American Dollar and the profit that could be made. In turn, it worked for all who succeeded to realise “the dream”.

Developers reading this, we salute you. You are building the national housing stock and that is meritorious. Keep it up!

The news did indeed travel fast. From Cape Town, the Vaal, Joburg, and Sydney message after message to find out how we are. So far we are good but every hour a new threat arises from people intent on destruction, another spear of fear penetrates the hearts of the people of this town and its surrounds. Let’s hope the violence dissipates and with things back to normal, houses get delivered as soon as possible.

But, there is other much better news. The Moody’s decision to retain our rating bordered on a miracle. To have held the downgrade off was a gift to South Africa. Remember that their decision would have plunged us into full junk status and to the point that the Citi World Bond Index would not have been included in offshore Bond mandates. In simple terms, $10bn of SA Bonds would have been sold off in no time. They prevented that ignominy and financial destruction just by holding the rating. But then to give us the filip of lifting the negative watch to Stable was amazing! It sets the scene for a few things that should excite us:


  • It gives the new Administration and its decrepit SOE’s a financial space to move on critical initiatives. The cost of funds should not rise and we need every Rand we can spend on turnarounds right now.
  • It gives the SARB the space to manoeuvre interest rates and I for one, am backing a decrease in Bank Rate come the next MPC. Allied to this as we have noted, the strengthened Rand also gives the SARB much-needed headroom for a rate reduction.
  • It may spur the other Rating Agencies to review their stance on South Africa.
  • Finally, it’s just some good news amidst the gloom that has succeeded Ramaphoria.


All of the above said, am I negative? No!

We live in a vibrant country that is grasping the nettle of social inequality. We will make some mistakes in our rollout and even frustrate many with the pace of change. But ultimately, we must survive and even thrive in order for our People to enjoy a developing economy. I can understand people who are cynical about this approach but we have chosen to live positively and faithfully in our beautiful, tortured country. For some there is not an option but to live here but for others, it is a choice. Either way, as in all of life’s challenges, you can be positive or negative. The decision is yours and the way you react to a stimulus will always be your responsibility. I choose to live positively and remind myself of that whenever I need to “hear my own prayers”.

HLJ agrees and we invite you to do the same. It’s not fairyland stuff, just a simple choice to be happily effective in what we CAN DO.

Yours in Property.

Jack Trevena
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