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risk management

NZ Cannabis Reform

Things are looking up for cannabis users in New Zealand as the country's recently elected prime minister has openly stated that she wants to initiate a national discussion surrounding the legalization of cannabis. Jacinda Ardern, who became the 40th prime minister in October 2017, has declared her intentions to work in conjunction with her Cabinet to take advice on the subject before making a final decision on a date for a referendum. 

As the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, she is currently governing the nation as part of a Coalition government with the NZ First Party and supported by the Green Party of New Zealand. Although the proposed changes to legislation regarding cannabis use are driven by a Green Party manifesto stating the drug should be legalized for personal use, including its cultivation and possession, during her election campaign, Ardern was very frank about her opinion that people should not be imprisoned for using cannabis. However, she also expressed her concerns about young people having access to a potentially harmful product. As part of the Green Party manifesto, an age limit was proposed to be introduced for personal use, and proposals for the removal of penalties for people who were growing their own marijuana for medicinal use.

Ross Bell, the New Zealand Drug Foundation's Executive Director agrees with the Prime Minister that a new look at the nation's drug policy is long overdue. In polls carried out by his organization, he has seen that 65% of respondents are keen to change the law as it currently stands, which is more than four decades old.

However, while he is in favour of the Green Party's interest in opening discussions into the subject, he also cautioned that it was necessary to acknowledge that cannabis can have a harmful effect on society, and that a wholesale move to a free-market arena, in his opinion, would be a negative step.

The Canadian government has taken steps to legalize the use of cannabis in their country by 1st July 2018, however at the present time they are still struggling to satisfy their legal obligations internationally. Canada has already legalized the use of medicinal cannabis, but strict guidelines are being put in place, with cannabis oil, fresh and dried flower being initially available with edibles set to follow. Canada has also stated that they will be putting clear guidelines into practice regarding the marketing of marijuana products, although as yet there have been no final decisions about whether plain and child-proof packaging will be used and whether endorsements will be banned. Whatever the final decision on that matter, there will be strong prohibitions on marketing which could prove to be appealing to young people, and there will be no selling through vending machines or self-service display cases permitted. There will also be limits set for those who want to cultivate their own cannabis plants, with a maximum of 4 plants per household implemented, and only 30g of dried cannabis solely for personal use will be permitted to be carried. Anyone found selling or giving cannabis to a minor or who drives under the influence of the drug will face a stiff penalty.

Although the timing of any referendum has not been determined, it has been suggested that the vote will take place before 2020 if at all possible. The changes that the public will be voting on include:

  • Legalization of cannabis for personal use, including its cultivation and possession – at the present time, it is still unclear whether or not the selling of cannabis would be made legal.
  • Age restrictions on the use of cannabis, with a legal age limit being introduced for personal cannabis usage. That age, however, has not yet been agreed on or set.
  • Driving after using cannabis – the existing law about driving under the influence of marijuana would be replaced, and a new law which is based on the correlation of cannabinoid levels and impairment would be introduced

Should Kiwis vote yes on the legalization of cannabis, the following changes would be put in place.

 

·         Medical cannabis would be legalized, with penalties being removed for anybody suffering from a debilitating, chronic or terminal condition who possesses, grows or uses marijuana products for a therapeutic purpose, so long as they are supported by their medical practitioner.

·         Licensed medicinal cannabis products will become more accessible, with the process through which medicinal cannabis products are licensed being accelerated and the barriers being lowered for manufacturers to submit their new cannabis-based products to Pharmac for funding so evidence can be gathered rapidly and then more speedily distributed when approved.

 

However, before taking any decisions with regard to a referendum date, the New Zealand government want to assess the evidence provided from overseas jurisdictions which have already legalized the sale of cannabis in order to determine the right model for their own country.

 

The policy would remove penalties for medicinal use while broader changes in legislation for cannabis use were still in the pipeline, however there would be other steps taken under the terms of the policy to help avoid the problems associated with drug use, including free counselling to be introduced for people under the age of 25, greater access to mental health support and services across the entire community, welfare system overhauls and increased access to drug and alcohol services for all.

Although no final decisions have been made yet about a referendum date or the final details of the policies being voted on, it seems clear that there has been a shift in both public and political opinion around the use of cannabis, and certainly for medicinal purposes, which will serve to benefit existing users before the end of the decade.

This also creates an amazing opportunity for people wanting to invest in New Zealand who want to be a part of what will become a boom industry. If New Zealand gets to the front of the queue, this will be a major economic boom for New Zealand.

 

Liberian Election (and what comes next)

The Liberian elections have been one of the hotly contested elections this year ending in a runoff between  Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Vice President Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party, (UP).  Winning an election is not always a rosy affair as seen by the recent happenings in Liberia. In the previous poll, George Weah led by a small margin but unfortunately failed to hit the 50% of votes cast mark. This scenario automatically triggered off a runoff. The runoff was almost a foregone certainty as it is difficult to win 50% of the first ballots cast when there are over twenty candidates in the first round of elections. 

There has been no peaceful transfer of power from a sign president to the next in Liberian since 1944. However, 2017 will most likely see this happen as the outgoing president, Sirleaf will peacefully hand over power to either Boakai or Weah.  

We contest that this will be Weah. 

Weah enjoys broad support among people from divergent social, political and ethnic groups in Liberia. Winning an election requires a contestant to consolidate his or her support from all sections of the society. In Liberia, the support of the youth is most important. George Weah attributes a large number of his supporters from youth to the endorsement and support he received from Doe at the star of his football career. Weah is no doubt considered a football legend and god in Liberia. This fact and the huge number of youths in the country will most likely propel him towards the election win. He will, however, need a cross-party support and validation in order to fulfil the coveted 50% plus one vote requirement. 

This is shown not only by the massive number of new votes the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has won in the first round of the election but the number of new counties that the CDC was unable to penetrate in 2011 or 2014 which it has won (and in some cases convincingly) but also since the runoff, the number of losing parties that have endorsed the CDC for the December 26 runoff election.

A review of the current happenings in Liberian indicates that CDC has all of these winning qualities. For instance, CDC enjoys support from the largest county, Montserrado. George Weah himself is a senior Senator from the largest county.  Secondly, CDC has a large youth support and is very active in youth mobilization. Between the ballot rounds, Weah has secured the endorsements of many youth wings of different political parties that did not make it to the second round. This kind of political mobilization if intensified will most likely see George Weah win the election.

A review of the Liberian election landscape reveals that a total of 15 counties are present.  The largest of these counties in terms of population is Montserrado. A party with the largest number of voters from the largest county as well as support from a significant number of the smaller ones is most likely to win the elections. Additionally, the country has 60% of its registered voters as youths.  This shows that the party that is more oriented and that will manage to mobilize the youth vote will most likely carry the day. Cross-party support will also be important since a runoff is a unique voting experience requiring vote consolidation from across the board. 

The fact that Liberians are yearning for change from the status quo implies that a majority will not vote in the current Vice President who is viewed by many as a poster child of Liberian’s arrogant elitism. Instead, they would vote in George Weah, an anti-elitist campaigner hoping to devolve power back to the people.  Perhaps one of the recent legal boost to Weah’s camp was the dismissal of Charles Brumskine’s appeal against Weah’s first-round win. The political implication of the dismissal is great since it confirms to the entire world that the appeal, which was supported by the ruling party, was defective and hence politically vindicated Weah and CDC from any wrongdoing,  

One of the most important implications of George Weah’s win is that incumbency can indeed be lodged in present-day Africa. It’s quite surprising that a candidate who lacks proper formal education like Weah enjoys a huge national following and thwarts the popularity of highly educated contenders.  This would mean that the level of democratization in Liberia has grown and liberalism is highly practiced in the nation. Perhaps the negative political implications of George Weah’s win would be the return to the national politics of Charles Taylor’s family through his wife, Jewel Taylor.  Jewel Taylor’s party National Patriotic Party (NPP) formed a coalition agreement with the George Weah’s CDC to the dismay of the international community.

George Weah will no doubt win the upcoming runoff elections due to his political machinations and posturing.  The ability of his CDC party to lure in likeminded parties to face the incumbency will no doubt play a significant role in creating a huge voting bloc that is capable of dislodging the incumbent authority. 

However, the biggest challenge for the CDC in our view is not just winning, but governing. We have seen recent examples in Europe where new parties (eg. En Marche) where they have won elections on massive margins then seen popular swings against them as they prove that they are unable to make the lofty promises and imagery of campaigning turn into the content of actual governing. 

This has seen in those countries massive falls in popularity of the new government, in a quick period of time (in France its been a record). The CDC needs to learn from this and get control of the apparatus of government quickly in order to survive. 

The governing element of a country like Liberia is something that the Sirleaf/Boakai administration has failed to accomplish. The country will need to build a budget, with new revenue sources going into a Treasury that allows the Weah agenda of economic development to come to fruition. The revenue will also need a new economic compliance and regulatory system and the development of a whole new set of public service agencies in order to implement it all. 

Our targets for them would be a multinational diverted profits tax or a ‘google tax’ in the same way that the UK and Australia have cracked down on multinational profit shifting. There have been many reports from entities such as the Tax Justice Network about Liberia “ a little-known offshore business registry that has created tens of thousands of anonymous companies and registered them to a non-existent address in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

Although these companies are technically a creation of Liberian law, management of the registry is based in the United States and appears to have the support of the US government.
The companies, which can be purchased online, offer near-total anonymity to their clients, allowing them to hide assets without fear of being caught by law enforcement or revenue authorities.”

Furthermore, the use of non-resident corporations in Liberia allows billions of dollars be hid in Liberia by foreign corporations, without the Liberian Treasury seeing a cent of it in taxation. 
Finally, there is the revenue from shipping flags. During the Ebola crisis, the US$20 Million in revenue was all the Treasury was getting from these registrations which made up 6% of the total revenue intake for the government. This is despite that these companies only take the Liberian flag (and Panama flag) in order to dodge international regulations in relation to a host of things, such as the environment, labour law and the state of the ships themselves. 
In a new administration, there is no reason why the government can see this as a potential new stable revenue source for the budget.

Overseeing this, the government will also need to deliver a new, tough corruption enforcement agency. This needs to not just be for multinational companies dealing in the country but for public officials as well. New people dealing in the country need to be reassured of their legal standing in dealings and the public needs to learn as economic evolution comes to the country; that this is not being done with public officials being enriched along the way. 

Liberia will also need personal income tax reform along the way as incomes rise. For the economy to grow in the short to medium term, the emphasis should be on corporate tax revenue and allow personal and consumption taxes to be as low as possible. This can then change as economic growth comes in and incomes start to rise.

The development of the middle class should be priority one economic policy.

The country needs new foreign direct investment badly. Whether it be in the commercial space, major infrastructure or in new residential sector investment. Currently, many investors are put off by the concept as many have faced legal uncertainty, the need for ‘commissions’ or ‘bribes’ to make business happen or other unscrupulous business practices by either private sector entities or public-sector figures. 

This needs to change for Liberia to change. The challenge for the new CDC government won’t be winning this Boxing Day, it will be understanding the size of what comes next.

SA No Confidence: Where to from here?

Tuesday 8th August 2017 is a day that will go down in history in the young democracy of South Africa.  A vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma as president of the country was allowed to be cast in private and the result was closer than expected and whether this or the fact thevote was in private was most surprising is still open for debate.

However, what was the vote of no confidence really for?  Was the only the fact that South Africans and a growing number of MPs were unhappy about the way Jacob Zuma was running the country? The fact is that the vote of no confidence was a vote of no confidence in many areas of the turbulent and sometimes violent world of South African Politics.

The opposition lost the vote, one cannot truly say that Jacob Zuma won because a number of his own party members turned their backs on him and did not tow the party line. The vote demonstrated a healthy democracy but also highlighted the fact that some MPs and Ministers are so “captured” that it is a case of better the devil you know than to lose a job with good pay given as a reward for loyalty to one man and a family.

The anger towards those who voted to remove the beloved leader is, in the days after the vote, is beginning to surface. The ANC is a divided party, the tripartite alliance is under more strain the than ever before but the weakness or fear of those such as the SA Communist party who have been outspoken about Mr Zuma has become blatantly obvious. Inside ANC structures there is turmoil, vows to oust out or seek revenge against the twenty something ANC members who broke rank is starting to surface, this despite the vote being secret. The ANC, for these members has become a power hungry monster that has lost the moral high ground serving the few not the many like something from an Orwellian Animal Farm nighmare.

Opposition parties have concluded that while the vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma may have been a win for the president is it a loss for a dying or maybe even now dead ANC. The broken and divided ANC along with its alliance partners is fighting for its life, clambering to find its identity. This leads to desperate measures and the prospect of impossible to honour promises in the run up to the 2019 elections.

A lot of trust in the ANC has been lost; the once loved struggle party is losing its lustre in an ever more educated and now less trusting citizenship of its country. The debate who should be the next ANC party leader is not an easy one and ames put forward are names that are popular only in certain enclaves of the party showing not just a divide but multiple, perhaps fatal, fractures. 

Cyril Ramaphosa, the struggle icon, wealthy businessman and trade unionist missed a golden opportunity to stand up for what is right in the no confidence vote and in the eyes of the people has lost some favour. He had the chance to do what the people wanted and didn’t choosing to stand by his party not his country.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former wife of Jacob Zuma, could be the first woman president of South Africa. The very fact she is or was related to Jacob Zuma is perhaps a bridge to far for South African Voters and many are asking, “What has she really done?” The family ties to corruption are just too strong for many voters to think about with the name sending shivers down the spines of people throughout the country.

Other names in the hat include Former ANC Treasurer-General Matthews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, current ANC Treasurer-General and ANC National Chairperson and Speaker of the house Baleka Mbete.

Every single name has in some way been tainted with the same brush that has painted the ANC corrupt, incompetent and untrusted, each has had a chance to stand up and be the change but are either captured, afraid or just weak. This says a lot about the ANC, it shows how people get to where they are. It shows how favour and loyalty to a man or promise rather than being wiling and competent to perform and serve their country has become the norm, shedding light on a once glorious ANC that people had hope in that now shows how a few have benefitted over the many.

The successes of the ANC in improved education and placing some business in black hands have perhaps become the things that ultimately destroy the party, voting them out of power or barely hanging in there in some form of delicate coalition. Better-educated people, people who have waited too long for broken promises and the very fact that opposition parties have made massive changes in a number of major metros they won in local elections, mean the ANC is exposed. The Gupta emails, evidence of mass corruption and in recent days the stance on a senior minister accused of assaulting two women in a nightclub have shown the true colours of the current party.  These true colours clearly show how the party has become a dark, untrusted and distant shadow of the party that once fought and won the fight for freedom two decades ago.

Where can South Africa go? Who will win the next election?  It is difficult to say, party politics can get dirty and the ANC has its back to the wall. What is known is that the people of SA are unhappy and that can only mean two things, a low voter turnout that would favour the ANC or change of political direction that leads to unchartered territory. 

What the A-League Expansion Process can learn from the MLS

With the botched and stalled A-League expansion process currently going nowhere and with a lot of expansion bids seemingly in limbo watching potential capital investment into the game fly elsewhere; it is worth looking at the MLS Expansion Process for some blue Sky potential. 

Undoubtedly, the A-League could learn from the American process as could the local bids (and potential bids) learn from the expansion entries in the MLS.

For the A-League bids that don't currently have identified capital partners (eg. those bids that aren't the Sunshine Coast, Southern NSW, Canberra, Tasmania and Brisbane City); it's more than clear that certain disclosures around capital would have to be met in order to be considered real by any serious football board.

However, without the FFA willing to get their house in order, this is difficult. We know as advisory consultants in this space that potential investors will not invest without a clear pathway and some confidence set by the governing officials. 

We have seen from the MLS the benefits of a clear expansion platform to attract new investment into the league. There have seen a number of expansions with the MLS over the years.

Yet, in this round the MLS Commissioner has confirmed that teams 25 and 26 will be announced during the second or third quarter of 2017, at an expansion fee of $150 million each, and will begin MLS play by 2020. Teams 27 and 28 will be announced at a later date, at a price delivered in conjunction with the timeline. 

The league acknowledged ownership groups from 10 markets that have publicly expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Three key aspects are considered top priorities when reviewing candidates: 

  • A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market.
  • A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.
  • A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community

The Stadium proposition has already been passed with the bid from the Tampa Bay Rowdies via a public referendum. On the other hand, St. Louis will remain a two-sport town after voters defeated a measure that would have helped pay for a stadium as part of an effort to lure a Major League Soccer franchise. City voters turned down Proposition 2 on Tuesday by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote. It would have provided $60 million from a business use tax to help fund a soccer stadium.

The MLS effort in Charlotte, which was among the favourite thanks to the city’s size and importance in a growing area of the country, is on life support after the city declined to approve the funneling of tax revenue earmarked for tourism toward a portion of a stadium.

In Indianapolis, an effort to get the state legislature to pass a bill allowing taxes generated at and adjacent to a new soccer stadium to be spent on its construction has gone nowhere. 

The first teams to enter the MLS in the 21st Century were Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA for which they paid $7.5 Million to enter. These bids will be paying $150 Million entry fee.

In the A-League, there are no local ownership requirements. This means that any serious capital investor and those seeking to bring a bid together really need to be a homogenous working unit. This is required in terms of PR, engaging with the three tiers of government and with the FFA authorities. 

The importance of a quality investor group has already been shown in the MLS expansion bid process. On the one hand, we see the Nashville bid bringing in the owners of the Minnesota Vikings into their bid consortium. Mark Wilf, his brother Zygi, and cousin Leonard, in their 13th season as majority owners and of the Minnesota Vikings, has signed on as a minority owner of Nashville Soccer Holdings, the business enterprise led by billionaire Nashville businessman John Ingram.

This is not to say any expansion process is smooth sailing.

The Sacramento bid, which had been considered a slam dunk for entry, have fallen into disarray with the addition of Meg Whitman (Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Mitt Romney Presidential Backer) into the ownership group.

One would have thought a press release would have been forthcoming from the club, but one never appeared, even on the club's website. A press release instead emerged from an entity calling itself Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings. Now there are disputes about whether or not the bid will be the Sacramento Republic or not.

We would also note that the right ownership group should not be a substitute for a corporate partner structure that works. Any bid that can show good governmental and corporate buy-in to the bid, will have a leg up in this process. The A-League simply can not afford another team that has a revenue base that is too narrow without local corporate buy-in to the brand. 

If we look at the FC Cinncinati bid for the MLS expansion, a year before they played their first game in the USL (the American 2nd tier), the club had 17 corporate sponsors signed up. Toyota is the USL jersey sponsor. 

The fact is, the expansion process in the A-League will need some components which the FFA will have to include when they finally get the house in order. These are:

  • Stadium
  • Catchment Area
  • Capital Requirement
  • Local Talent Depth
  • Support History

Therefore, there are a lot that bids, or potential bids, can do to prepare to enter the FFA process in a serious way.

Firstly, there is the private sector capital backer. The backers will need to be somewhat flexible with the components they will need to invest in, the total sum of the capital investment and be prepared to invest long term in the bid as there is no 'end date' for this process as such. Sports investment exit strategies are not comparable to almost any other investment.

This is shown by the divisions with the Sacramento MLS bid intrigue around their ownership structure and whether or not the Republic name will be used if granted one of the spots in the MLS when the MLS goes to 28 franchises. For more information about this, click here

  • Stadium: There are many bid proposals that have been declared/are being contemplated that will need an agreement on a stadium. This could require receiving funding commitments from a local council, state or territory government or getting an agreement with the owning level of government to receive private sector investment. 
  • Catchment Area: If you don't have a catchment area of around 500,000 the bid won't be commercially viable. Now, there are some bids that are pushing the limits to make their bid catchment areas appear bigger. The catchment area also needs to be around the 500,000 mark to ensure that the bid can prove localised support for the game.
  • Local Talent Depth: This is a subjective criterium. However, the bid needs to have a real and in deep pitch in this space. This also needs to be about ensuring that the bid is backed by the State FA and the junior clubs in the region. 
  • Support History: This all comes back to community engagement. If the bid is based off an existing team, the figures from that team come into figuring. However, as a bid, you need to engage in a solid community engagement campaign to engage your catchment in the bid and bring a level of 'hype' behind your bid. 

Don't underestimate the value of bringing a derby to the table as well. If we look at what makes the A-League sizzle, look at the Sydney derbies, Melbourne derbies and Central Coast-Newcastle rivalries. Even the rivalries that Brisbane Roar have had with the now defunct Gold Coast and Northern Fury sides were commercial gold for the league. This immediately brings into focus the prospects from Southern Syndey, Woollongong, South Melbourne, Brisbane City, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. 

This is actually one of the big drawcards for bringing St. Louis into the MLS. St. Louis also helps MLS fill out the midwest U.S.—the league cares about geographic coverage—and instantly creates a couple of promising potential rivalries. An I-70 derby with Sporting Kansas City could become one of the league’s premier showdowns, while the enmity Blues and Cardinals fans traditionally have for their rivals in Chicago could form the basis of another run rivalry. 

The geographic coverage argument from St. Louis also provides the basis for arguments for bids from places such as Tasmania and Canberra.

However, for any prospective bid, the best thing we could do is show a living exemplar of a side to model a bid on: Atlanta United FC. 

Before they started, they had 24,000 season tickets sold; outdoing the top attendance rates of the MLS. 

Atlanta United's inaugural season may still be far from over, but already the club is on the road to becoming MLS's most successful expansion team.

The team is performing well in their first season, reaching for the playoff stages. The average attendance for the team is around 44.000 spectators, which are more than good numbers. If we look at how the first squad was built, we won’t find stellar European signings, like most of the franchises, do as a marketing tool in their first years. The squad is built around young players with some experienced ones from the MLS and some interesting young foreigners. 

They hired Gerardo Martino as their first manager (originally from Barcelona) and are also heavily invested in the youth development in their catchment area.

All of this is part of a long-term project, and it’s exactly what the A-League should be seeking for the new teams. For a franchise to be successful (and in the end, the league depends on the success of the franchises), it needs to be self-sustainable for the most part.

The main difference between traditional clubs and franchises is that sentiment of 'belongingness' that a club has: people will always belong to their club, no matter who’s the newest signing or in which position or division they’re in. 

The A-League are still a long way off creating any environment of belongingness for new entrants. The wait continues.

 

Kenyan Election Update: Extra Ballots

Thirdway Party Presidential candidate, Dr. Ekuru Aukot, accompanied by his running mate, Emmanuel Nzia, addressed the media at Ridgeways Baptist Church, Kiambu County on Sunday 30th of July 2017. The candidate accused the IEBC of printing extra ballot papers beyond the 1% contingency provision made for spoilt votes. 

Dr. Aukot added that the 5.7% extra ballots should be a cause for concern. 


"IEBC must now turn its attention to the KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Elections Management System) to ensure that voting is credible. Used, unused and spoilt ballot papers must be reconciled properly and results tallied transparently and transmitted without any hitches," he said. 

The electoral commission said the one per cent additional ballot papers were meant to cater for ballots that were reported as spoilt before they are cast. The commission explained that the ballot papers are bound in booklets, each booklet having 50 papers, hence the commission's decision to round off the number to 50. 

The IEBC communication manager, Andrew Limo said that for uniformity purposes, the commission had to round off to 50 because there was no way to print unmatched numbers for different counties. 

Via Twitter on Saturday, the electoral agency said they had printed 416,360 booklets of 50 ballot papers each, thus totalling 20,818,000 papers. This is to cater for 19,687,563 registered voters, meaning there is an extra 1,130,437 papers.

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders on Monday 31st July claimed that the printing of additional papers could be another plan to rig the General Election. 

The Orange Democratic Movement's National Chairman, John Mbadi, the Secretary General, Agnes Zani, and the Wiper Vice Chairman, Mutula Kilonzo Jr, asked the IEBC to explain the extra ballot papers and warned that this could affect the credibility of the polls. 
"Does this then mean ballots for the other positions will not be spoilt? Why only the extra for the presidential (ballot papers)?" asked Dr Zani. She faulted the electoral body for not involving all stakeholders before deciding to print extra ballot papers. 

The electoral commission on that Monday released a document detailing the packaging of the presidential ballot papers. The document lists each of the 290 constituencies, their respective total number of registered voters, and number of ballot papers to be delivered. It further detailed the number of ballot booklets to be delivered to all the polling stations spread across the country and how the commission reached the rounded off figures.

Commissioner Roselyn Akombe said the ballot papers and result forms have been customised for each polling station, making it impossible to use those not meant for a particular polling station.
 

The Future of South Africa

Open any South African newspaper or visit any South African news website and things do not look good.  On every page, there is something depressing and with an initial glance, one would assume things are getting worse.

But, are things getting worse in South Africa?

The answer is “yes” but it will not stay that way.

The Guptavisation of South Africa

Perhaps the most prominent name in South Africa today is that of Gupta. The Gupta’s are a family who arrived in SA in the late 1990’s with nothing, made friends in the right places and rose to become one of the most influential business families in the country.  For many years their business efforts and now exposed, alleged dodgy dealings were of little concern, until a Gupta owned Jet landed at the Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria full of guests for a wedding, a wedding too that has since come under the spotlight funded by corrupt, government money.

A flurry of media activity around the jet soon began to unearth the shadier side of the Guptas, President Jacob Zuma and a gravy train of ANC Politicians and heads of state owned enterprises. In recent weeks the so-called #GuptaLeaks emails have shed further light on the shady dealings of the Gupta Family and their associates of influence in Government and cast a shadow over the once valiant, now deemed corrupt, ANC.

The political space in SA is alive and a young democracy is showing it can work. However, weak leadership in the ruling party and mounting allegations of corruption are putting the democracy to the test. Recent downgrades in the South African currency, the Rand, are in many ways a result of the now political infighting and the results of poor decisions, lack of investment partly due to corruption and the lack growth that stem from this.

President Jacob Zuma is considered to be at the very heart of problems South Africa is facing, and his party, the ANC, is divided over his role as president and this too is beginning cause challenges in the country. There are calls for Zuma to fall with a growing list of over 700 accusations of fraud that the president and his cronies are fighting to keep out of court to enable corrupt gains to continue, and yet time and time again the “Teflon President” still remains in his seat.

Things will get better

Despite the political turmoil and the ever-deepening piles of emails and documents that sway the argument that corruption is rife and state capture has happened, there is hope. This hope is what makes South Africa the country it is and it is this hope that any investor in SA needs to appreciate.

In the middle of the 1980’s the escape out of Apartheid seemed impossible; in 1994, the dream came true. The people rose up and made South Africa new, or as new as they could. This fighting spirit remains in South Africa today, 2019 sees a general election and recent politics and the truth coming out about corruption are reasons for a change in SA.

The ANC, as it stands at this moment, has little chance of securing a majority and should corruption charges against many ANC Members be proven people should think twice about their vote. The rhetoric from other parties is becoming a powerful “don’t vote ANC” with both the DA, the official opposition and EFF, a breakaway from the ANC each gaining significant ground in recent municipal elections with major cities changing hands. These changes have unearthed appalling levels of mismanagement that are being put right, this is something any investor must acknowledge as a sign of things to come.

The view of SA for investors is clouded by smoke from the political situation. However, SA is a place where long term investment will yield good returns and shrewd investors will reap a just return with the right financial, social and humanitarian strategy behind their investment. The Rand, despite plummeting in recent months due to crazy political decisions should not be the deciding factor on investment; it is in fact fairly stable despite its value. One needs to look at the stability of the country outside the world of politics and that there is a nation hungry for jobs and a better country.

A change of government may not necessarily be the panacea investors are seeking to the problems in SA, nor is it something that can be assured of, and one needs to consider much more. The corruption in South Africa is now known to exist and people are aware of it, this will be further addressed as the democracy matures and those at the heart of it are ousted. Right now, is a time where clever money will receive a long-term reward while some of the problems are being fixed, now is the time to get a head start and have some patience.

Structures need to be put in place, the power utility, for example, has to turn itself around along with good governance and either investment or privatisation. South Africa cannot survive at all without this and many other current State Owned Entities that have been milked through corrupt dealings. There comes a point, and many will say it is coming soon, where the people of South Africa will have to rise up, bring the change they want and grow the country again as they did in 1994. Any investment will surely understand the importance of that.

Many lessons have been learnt in the last twenty plus years, these will be used to move forward and that makes South Africa a place that will be hungry for investment especially from investors with a heart for change not just profit.

 

 

Nawaz Gone: What's next for Pakistan?

The morning of July the 28th will be long remembered as a real watershed in the history of Pakistan’s politics. After having kept the country’s Prime minister waiting for months on scaffold, the Supreme Court- country’s apex judicial body- has finally decided to disqualify him on account of corruption. Nawaz Sharif, one of the most powerful premiers ever, was just months away from completing his 5-year tenure to become the first elected Prime Minister ever in the country’s history to serve a complete term in office. The decision was largely hailed by the opposition parties and the people alike. Since the verdict was announced, the country’s atmosphere has been rife with sanguinity that the decision marks the beginning of accountability process for all and sundry, even the oligarchs.

But is it really that simple?

The ruling party has tried to dispel the impression that this move is yet another assault on the nascent democratic process which has been hardly allowed to strike root. Former cabinet colleagues and party loyalists have also recorded strong reservations against the entire investigation process and the judgement itself. The opposition parties, however, are contending amongst themselves to take credit for the decision. Each one of them claims that the movements led by their party culminated into PM’s disqualification. Nevertheless, it’s PTI, led by Nawaz’s arch rival Imran Khan, who bags the maximum credit in terms of popular opinion.

The whole episode started with Panama Papers leaks which stated the Prime Minister’s children held offshore companies and properties in London and British Virgin Islands. Petitions were filed in the apex court demanding probe into the matter which the court rubbished, calling the petition ‘frivolous’. Only two months later, as the momentum against the Premier started to build up, the court decided to take up the case. After listening to the arguments from both sides, the court, in April, decided to order a probe into the matter by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The JIT presented its report three months later, in July, and after a few final hearings, the verdict was announced.

Although a popular one, the verdict still raises serious questions regarding the efficacy of the judicial system.

 The fact of the matter is that the court has not unseated the Prime Minister on account of corruption or money laundering. In fact those cases against the Prime Minister and his children have been transferred to National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which has been advised to file the references in an accountability court. The Premier is disqualified, however, on account of concealment of ‘assets’. The country’s law sanctions the declaration of sources of income and assets of persons who want to run for the parliament. But the law does not define what an ‘asset’ means. In Sharif’s case, the assets turned out to be his unwithdrawn salary of merely AED 10,000 which he had to receive from a Dubai-based company where he had served at a ceremonial post. To fetch this definition of an ‘asset’, the Judges made recourse to Black’s Law Dictionary which said ‘receivables’ also are tantamount to assets. The court even went further to define the terms ‘receivables’ and thus established that an unwithdrawn salary amounts to assets.

The Prime Minister was thus found guilty of concealment of assets, but perhaps the most damning thing about the verdict was that the court found the Premier not ‘honest’; Article 62 of the Constitution demands that the parliamentarians shall be ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’. This was the article which was ridiculed by the same court during the hearings of a petition in 2014, citing that ‘honest’ and truthful’ are vague terms and if they are applied in their stringent meanings they could lead to the disqualification of the entire Parliament. Even the PTI leader Imran Khan has said similar things in the past, but he won’t have scruples celebrating the same clause if it serves his own political ambitions.

The kind of love this nation has for conspiracy theories have encouraged some of the politicians and journalists to once again point the fingers towards the Army; the difference between the civilian and military’s outlook on Afghan and Indian policies being the rais onde Tre. It is a fact that the country has a long history of Army rule. It is also true that every putsch was backed by the supreme judiciary. But mere speculations cannot help reach the judiciary’s contention to pass such a stringent verdict.

It is too early to say how significant an impact this decision can cast on the voter base of the party, especially in the bellwether state of Punjab. It will depend largely on how successfully the ruling and the opposition parties can present their case in front of the people. Needless to say, the ruling party’s argument that this decision is a blow to democracy is a bit too overstretched to comprehend; in fact it can be a blow to dynastic politics. Having a majority in both the houses, the ruling party has enough choice to pick the Premier of its choosing, and the democracy can move forwards.

In run-up to the elections which are due next year, it is unlikely that there is a discontinuity in government policies; domestic and foreign. According to one argument, the Punjabi business interests have also grown too strong in recent years to let the ruling party change course abruptly. The military establishment might have a bargaining leverage in foreign policy if the incoming PM failed to assert himself. However, there is no significant change in the domestic policies expected in the foreseeable future.

Whether the judiciary has finally taken a decisive step to hold the political elite accountable or has it proved itself to be a media-courting agency, yet again, which could give in to public pressure? The answer to the question can perhaps be better sought once free trails in relation to graft and money laundering against the accused are conducted and the culprits are brought to the book.

Gravis Risk due diligence...

Due diligence is a phrase that has been traditionally used to reflect the analysis activities that occur during merger and acquisition activities. Recently the due diligence process has been extended to include the evaluation of business affiliation and partnership agreements.

Due Diligence is generally comprised of legal due diligence and financial due diligence. At this time, research into financial assets, articles of incorporation, market share, technology, hardware and business competencies are examined and as a result, there is a need for businesses to engage with Gravis Risk who have vast experience so as to deliver professional due diligence partnerships for businesses making new investments or proposing to merge or buy other companies.

Statistics indicate only 15% to 25% of all mergers and various business combinations live up to expectations. 25% to 30% are reported to be outright failures, with the acquired entity being liquidated at a loss within 3 to 5 years of acquisition. The remaining 45% to 60% result in little or no apparent benefits to the buyer's shareholders to prevent this and similar occurrences, there is need to contact Gravis Risk.

In today's merger activity, we see an alarming trend of companies paying too much for the organisations they are acquiring. Declining equity prices are creating a disconnect between what owners want for their businesses and operating companies will pay. 
 
We help study key cultural and organisation effectiveness domains and they include:

  • Leadership: vision. mission. values, business strategy development, leadership effectiveness and ethics. 
  • Relationships: trust, collaboration, inter/intra group relationship, community and customers.
  • Communication: feedback, information sharing, employee trust in information
  • Infrastructure: formal procedures, processes, system, policies, structure and teams involvement and  
  • Finance: perception of financial health and the role of the employee and the level of financial comprehension and impact on the business. 
  • Cultural Descriptors: a list of predetermined values which can be customised to reflect the organisation's values.
  • General Climate: open-ended questions that capture the stories and suggestions from employees.

The outcome of this is a cultural resume. This document shows that results of a cultural diagnostic and lays out the unique organisational culture of each business unit inside the target entity. The Cultural Resume helps stakeholders going forward and creating the measurable action plans for the cultural integration efforts for those going forward. 

Some of the tips we use to increase the potentials of our success includes:

  • The use of an appreciative inquiry when examining the culture of business units.
  • We use a validated assessment tool that collects both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • We include culture as a part of your due diligence process and be prepared to addresses the issues between business units with action.
  • We involve employees in the integration effort. 
  • We allocate dedicated time and resources for the project.