You Face More Compliance and More Threats…

More panic looms on the horizon. Here is the easy answer to the latest SA Govt small-business nonsense.

At issue is the Promotion of Access to Information Act. (PAIA)

It is the wrong name because Govt is actively using it to Prevent Access to Their Info. Most of the time they just ignore your request.

If you persist they claim that they do not have the info you want. And then ignore you.

If you show them where they have printed bits of that info on their official organs they tell you that they will dig into it. And then ignore you.

Bottom line, you get to take them to court, and lose.

Be that as it may, by midnight on 31 December 2015 you must produce a Section 51 manual, lodge it at the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) via email, mail them a paper copy, and keep a version of it on your website for the world to see.

The fines for not doing this range from zero to R10 million. The penalty stated depends who is trying to sell you their solution.

When this first broke wind in 2005 the incoming emailed manuals seized up all the SAHRC email servers.

Back then every manual was also to be printed in the Govt Gazette. It did not take long for someone to point out that the Govt Gazette was not able to print and deliver 100 million pages in September 2006.

That was about 5 pages for each of the 20 million businesses they said should do this. Neatly stacked that would be a pile of manuals 10km high. Maybe that’s why they need an entire village in KwaZulu Natal? The new manual needs at least six pages.

Folk who responded to that first deadline were still getting acknowledgements from the SAHRC seven months later.

Govt tried again in December 2011. Most folk ignored it so they extended the deadline at the last minute. Again.

Lawyers made oodles both times.

It’s back. This is the last, final, never to be repeated deadline. Or else…

I suggest that you deal with it now. You can invest R199 to answer a few questions and sort it out in 30 minutes. Contrast that with the hassle of waiting until the last minute.

Your Govt expects you to comply if you trade as a sole prop, a trust, a company, a partnership, an Inc, and anything in between. Or have ever done so.

Just to be clear, the site I suggest you use is not mine. Nor do I get paid in any way for recommending you use it. But I have referred a few clients to them, and those clients have come away happy.

Go here to sort it out. Then you can ignore the noise as it rises to its predictable crescendo towards the end of the year.

As a form of passive resistance, you might want to email to them a second copy of your Section 51 manual between Christmas and New Year. Just in case. If they query why you may have done this ask them to complete the now-needed paperwork, as well as submit the now-needed payment of R60 for you to process their request.

And then ignore them.

Solving SA Revenue and Unemployment Challenges…

The government has a new plan to undo unemployment as well as to rocket revenues. I’d like to share it with you.

The Film and Publications Board, (FPB), those fine people who forced Scope magazine to put stars on top of anyone brave enough to wave their assets about back in the seventies, have decided that they should do something about all these unregulated videos and pictures online.

I don’t know about how you feel about the FPB but I think they are as useful in today’s world as blacksmiths two decades after cars replaced horses.

However, this time they have come up with a winner. Their plan is simple. Regulate any video or publication that may be seen online in SA. As you and I know, everything online can be seen in SA.

I quote: This includes self-generated content uploaded on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, feature films, television programs and certain computer games which are distributed online by streaming through the internet.

So, what exactly does it mean to regulate all the videos on the web? I don’t know, but let’s look at just one facet of the web – Youtube – so that we can see the genius in this idea.

Youtube is the gorilla of web video repositories. They receive 300 hours of video uploads every minute.

That’s 110% up on last year. This is growing much faster even than the cost of gardening in KwaZulu-Natal.

This year alone Youtube will receive:
365 days in a year
x 24 hours in a day
x 60 minutes in an hour
x 300 hours of video/minute
= (drumroll)
= 157,680,000 hours of video.

One government employee, working full-time with no interruptions, with time off for sick-leave and holidays, will work 221 days each year.

(365 days – 52 weekends – 2 weeks ill – 4 weeks leave – 10 public holidays)

At 8 hours worked each day, that is 1768 hours each year. Assuming, of course, there is enough electricity.

Just watching the flood of videos, on Youtube alone, would gainfully occupy 89,186 people. (157680000 hours ÷ 1768 hours/person)

That’s without the supporting infrastructure to hire them, train them, manage them, pay them, and so on. Say 110,000 additional jobs. (A bonus for local recruiting firms as well.)

That’s genius.

And that’s lowballing because they haven’t yet done anything useful. We have not yet added the time needed certify each video into its age-appropriate bracket. Nor to advise each producer of their decision. Nor to confirm that each video has subsequently been stamped with our government’s approval.

But how to pay for these extra jobs? I am glad you asked. The only rate I could find on the FPB site for new movies is R1959.

So let’s redo those calcs. Since the average Youtube video is 4.33 minutes, there are about 13 of these in an hour up an hour.

The government could expect annual income starting at R 4,015,636,560,000 per year. In English that is a lot of money. And all this just from Youtube. (157,680,000 hours * 13 videos/hour * R1,959/certificate)

It’s also good for the US economy. Just think of all the people that Youtube will need to employ to process these invoices and deal with the fallout when a spider falls off the raft.

But what about Twitter where a 140 character tweet is much easier to classify? There were 200 billion tweets last year, and at R19 – the board’s lowest fee – that is another 3,3800,000,000,000 – and heck that’s going to need a few more workers.

At a minute a tweet – without stopping to send the invoice, they’re going to need another 35,822,021 workers, more than we have, even including illegal immigrants.

This year, Twitter is set to reach about 350 billion tweets. We could employ everyone south of the Sahara. Woot!

The more I think about this, the more excited I get. Add iTunes, Facebook, and the like, and we will be able to gainfully employ the entire indigent population of Africa, paid for by overseas firms.

Of course, it might just be easier to switch off the web and go back to Riaan Cruywagen on SABC1 News broadcasting the party line while Mark Saxon entertained us on Springbok Radio.

* I derive no income for advertising these splendid efforts by the government.
* You can download the Draft Bill here:
* I am as concerned as you about the wellbeing of children, especially my own. Spending a smidgeon of this kind of money on building better filters would seem an easier route to test first.
* There are 11.2 million children of schoolgoing age in SA. Just the Youtube contribution to our national coffers would be about 358,000 per child per year.
* The numbers quoted are as accurate as I could extract from the FPB site but the Minister has not yet determined what s/he expects to charge per certified tweet, or per certified video featuring naked cats.
* This article is intended to be tongue in cheek.

I have one last question. How do you stick your certificate on your tweet?

Warm regards

A Web of Different Cultural Styles

Last year I arrived at Oslo airport late one evening. My luggage did not. A lot of fellow passengers had the same problem. It was late. We were tired. The last train loomed before long hours of no transport from midnight to 5AM. Other than a taxi, of course, but that would cost more than the flight from Johannesburg.

I was still in “SA mode”. No matter how I tried to catch the eye of the lady explaining the problem she avoided me as she spoke to the crowd in Norwegian. When she stopped I had a head of steam brewing. Whatever I said so upset her that she told me that she would not speak to me and then left.

When I went to the counter to speak to her superior, she gently told me much the same. And, no, she would not fire her colleague. I felt that I had handled the request in a somewhat restrained manner.

In Norway, as it is in much of northern Europe, it is not polite to lose your temper or even to show vexation.

It matters not that you are late. You should have left earlier.

It matters not that you feel you have wasted your money. You should have worked out the costs before buying the service.

The more you start to steam the less respect or response you will get. If you persist they will just turn their back on you.

They do not care that this is not the way we do it in SA. They prefer their way and you are a visitor, even if you have lived here for two generations.

I raise this point as I am guiding a bunch of fine people into online adventures that use foreign services for payment processing, webinar services for broadcasting, accounting services…

When something does not quite meet our needs our standard SA approach is to make a list of each tiny facet that we feel has gone wrong. Then we detail each before we demand rapid resolution. We want the darn thing to work at the price we want to pay as well as an apology for having our time wasted on top of a guarantee that no such thing will ever happen again. As we get into the debate our voice rises, even it is on email.

My point: The web brings us all close together enough for this to matter a lot.

When dealing with anyone outside SA simply ask for help. Detail the problem as you see it. Not the fallout in your life. Not how you feel about it. Not what it has cost you so far.

The person you are talking to usually has no control over any of that. The person you are talking is not the reason you are angry. But he (or she) is the first step towards solving your problem. Make it easy for that person to help you by keeping your overload to yourself. Fix the problem first, then feel free to let your hidden “SA” out.

And then, if you feel so strongly about the issue, use another supplier next time.

This approach might also work when dealing with SA suppliers.