Just comments on the things I find interesting in life

Friday, May 9, 2014

Some comments on the election a la South Africa

As they say : You can prove anything with statistics. The past election however has some very interesting stats and the most relevant are the following: Agang has gone (hopefully for ever) Cope is a lost case (definitely forever) The EFF still have to prove something -what ever. The IFP will never be a factor again -lost nearly half of their voters from 5 years ago. VF+ is not plussing anymore. ACDP is a total lost case - going back at the rate of around 25% just the last 5 years showing maybe you should decide to either go into politics or preach.The NFP (who the hell they may be) is riding on confusion of the masses. The UDM is just putting along at their own pace. The rest is totally lost for all generations

That is apart from the ANC DA and now the EFF which in all probability play the leading roles for the next 5 years. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

The idiots guide to sidestepping debt collection

Applicable to South Africa only...............

I know, I know.........you should never do this (Unless you really need to sidestep some debt for a while )

Although this might sound like tongue in cheek advice I assure you it is very effective and will buy you at least 3 to 4 weeks in most situations.   (I have proof where this worked for a client for more than a year)
Remember: Debt collection is a call center driven system. When confronted by a witty/resisting client that client's file end up in file 13 for quite a while !

The misfortunes of life befall ordinary people all the time. They fall ill, their children fall ill, they lose jobs, they have accidents and they lose the ability to maintain payments to whoever they are indebted to. 

Once you are in the position that your really cannot pay your debts anymore or maybe you just need some breathing space here are some tried and tested ideas on how to ............well you know ............not pay NOW !  There is NOTHING illegal about any of this !

Disclaimer :   Anything in this blockpost is not offered as financial advice and cannot be seen as financial advice of any sort.   If it is financial advice you need or seek see your financial adviser.

1.  Debt collectors interaction and  phone calls :

      a.  If the number shows save the number as "Do not answer"
      b.  Do not answer calls showing it is from"Do not answer"
      c.  If the number does not show do not answer the phone.
      d.  If you did answer the phone ask the person on the other side to supply you with
           his debt collectors registration number as well as that of his company.
      e. Should he by some fluke be able to supply you with the required details ask
          him to send you an email with his gripe.
      f.  Should he not be able to give you the required details ask him to get it and
          then to phone you back.
      g.  Should he phone you back follow one of the first 5 steps above.
      h. Should you get an email from him reply in after 7 days and ask him for a copy
          of his mandate to be mailed to you to collect on behalf of whoever he is collecting.
      i   should you get all the details so far via email query the fact that you are in
           arrears - never be helpful.
      j   Never offer to go into a shop or branch of the creditor to do anything.
      k  Never make specific arrangements : Say something like : I should in all probability
          be able to get the account up to date by the end of the month. Be as vague as possible !
      l   Should you wish to make an arrangement to pay an arrears amount do it on your terms.
      m  Make sure that your emails have the wording : "Without prejudice and with
           all rights reserved" either in the beginning or ending of your text.
      n   NEVER sign anything especially not an arrangement or Acknowledgement of debt.
      o   If you ever find yourself in the position of being pressurized into
           signing something see the previous point
      p.   Obtain a copy of the debt collectors act 114 of 98 and study it thoroughly
            to understand all of your   rights !
      q.   Some more very interesting acts to study : Protection of harassment act
            117 /2011, the consumer protection act 68 of  2008 and the prescription
            act 68 of 1969 ( Yes certain debts prescribe after 3 years ! - including tv licenses !

  To Be continued.........................

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why can I not get up again ? The Maths do not work out !

A lot of middle class families all over the world will be able to relate to this. The article is written from a South African perspective.  I do believe that the scenario is not very different in any other country anywhere in the world.
I recently read an article entitled falling down the ladder.  It is about a middle class American family in a middle class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This family climbed the economic ladder and due to it being the economic ladder they were victims of changes in the economy.
This is a quote from that article :
"Their home, with its kitchen gadgets, flat-screen TV, newer computer and other trappings of a middle-class life, is only a couple of miles away from where she was raised, in nearby Wilkinsburg. But it’s a world away from the dilapidated neighborhood where she remembers her mother struggling to make ends meet on a string of minimum wage jobs.“I didn't want to live there. I didn't want to live like that. It’s hard. It’s hard to be poor,” she said.
That’s one reason she became the first person in her family to go to college. It was among a series of steps she and her husband, Rich, took to try to ensure a financially stable, middle-class life for their own daughters, who are now 5 and 8.
But after five difficult years, Rich, 40, and Mary, 41, are grappling with a fearful situation that many Americans have faced since the nation went into recession in late 2007: The prospect of falling back down the economic ladder.
A string of layoffs has left the Contis preparing for the possibility of living on around $27,000 a year, down from about $75,000 they were earning before Rich was laid off for the second time in five years. "
Why did I named the post "Why can I not get up again"?   I also gave you the answer:   The problem lies in the Maths !   For the simple reason that probably 99% of people in a similar scenario has this in common : They live on credit.  And the Credit providers have no answer but to say to them " We are not interested in your problem - shut up and PAY UP !" 
No matter what your currency is trying to keep up with your commitments of 100% before the crunch with only 40% of the income from that period is just no possible.  The maths do not work out.   
In South Africa we had a barrage of new laws and systems introduced lately that are looking to help address the problems.  The problem is that the financiers use all sorts of crafty tricks to keep their clients in the dark. A good description of this phenomenon could be called "LETS KEEP THEM IN THE DARK AND FEED THEM HORSE MANURE" This by the way is how you grow mushrooms. 
I am going to discuss a few of these laws and systems and how it could help you.
1. NCA ( National credit act)  The rights of everyone involved in credit is spelled out very clearly in this law.   A credit provider has to be able to demonstrate that he has applied the letter of this law by determining your ability to pay beyond any reason of a doubt. If he does not do this the "loan" given to you could be classified as reckless lending and he could be required to write the debt off and he will never be able to recoup his losses. Unfortunately this is the law, but their is no easy way for any debtor to apply it apart from utilizing the services of a knowledgeable lawyer who wants to be paid up front for his services.
2. The consumer affairs act.   A proper study of this act can save a consumer a lot of money when it comes to what his rights are - I am not going to discuss this in any detail - Get hold of the act and read it with a highlighter !
3.  Debt review and debt counseling.    This sounds like a life savor when in effect it is most cases not. It is not available to entrepreneurs and business owners. Should you default on the payments as agreed upon the system bombs out and you are left further back than ever. When this happens the creditors really go for you.  Creditors do not like this system and they will do everything in their power to sink it !
4. Council for debt collectors.  The law requires that all debt collectors be properly registered with this council including the actual person that phones a debtor. The council have a code of conduct that has to be adhered to. Most agents phoning is not registered although the company might be. This is illegal. Most debt collectors also do not adhere to the code of conduct as far as harassment is  concerned.
Here are the reasons why I content it is difficult or near impossible to get up once one has fallen down financially:
First let's look at the main reasons for financial failure:
1.     Lack of discipline by the individuals. It does not make provision for a possible layoff.
2.    Lack of skills to be re-hired when someone loses his job.
3.    Downsizing and other economic reasons for layoffs 
4.    Small businesses closing down for various reasons - mainly a change in the economy and a decline for their products. 
Financiers have based their decision for finance on a persons' financial ability linked to his work profile. 
Should that persons' financial position change due to circumstances out of his control the commitments to pay does not change.   The affected person has to change his priorities and unfortunately the first priority would and should always be survival of himself and his family and there after repayments of debt.  The irony is that the same persons doing the collecting might be in exactly the same position but due to the corporate policy has to do his job. 
Now the maths do not work out.
Look at this example : Take home pay R 50 000 before job loss. Monthly living expenses rent,telephone food etc R 20 000. Debt repayment  R 15 000 car furniture, credit cards, loans etc.)    Savings for holidays, entertainment R5000  per month . Insurance R3000 Savings R 7000
First 3 months of layoff this person would be living on his savings which (hopefully) could be around R100 000.  Already there is a R50 000 shortfall after 3 months - Already that person would probably not be paying all of his debts and not be saving anymore Without the holidays and entertainment and after insurance he could only budget to pay around R10 000 on his debt.
Now he gets a new job. it only pays R 30 000 per month - Living expenses is a fixed amount - say |R18000 ( after cutting back a bit) Insurance is still R 3000.  No entertainment or saving for holdays or saving at all - leaves R 9000 per month for debt payment. 
What did I say ?  THE MATHS DO NOT WORK OUT.
Most banks and other financiers immediately hike their interest rate on defaulters adding to the misery. 
I will be posting some ideas on how to handle this situation in a follow up post shortly 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Weskaap Tuis onderrig riglyne ?


Contents Page

1. Definitions 2

2. Introduction 3

3. Purpose and scope 3

4. Legislative framework 3

5. Criteria for registration 3

6. Registration process 4

7. Conditions for education at home 5

8. Prohibitions 5

9. Record keeping, monitoring and evaluation of progress 6

10. Withdrawal of registration 7

11. Appeal 7

12. Review 7


Annexure A: Registration of a learner for education at home (WCED 087)
Annexure B: Checklist for visitation and assessment of learners receiving education at home

1. Definitions

In this policy, unless the context indicates otherwise,

“education at home” means a purposeful programme of education that a parent of a learner, alternative to compulsory school attendance, which –
(a) is provided under the direction of the learner’s parent mainly in the environment of the learner’s;
(b) may include tutorial or other educational support services secured by the parent; and
(c) meets the requirements for registration of a learner for home education contemplated in section 51(2);

‘‘parent’’ means
(a) the parent or guardian of a learner;
(b) the person legally entitled to custody of a learner; or
(c) the person who undertakes to fulfil the obligations of a person
referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) towards the learner’s education
at the school;

“the Act” means the South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996); and

“competent assessor” means a qualified educator registered with the South African of Educators or a person registered as an assessor with the South African Qualifications Authority.

2. Introduction

The Western Cape Education Department is responsible for the administration of the registration of learners to receive education at home, the assessment of the learner and for the monitoring of compliance with the stipulations of this policy.

3. Purpose and scope

3.1 The purpose of this policy is to

(a) set out the process for a parent of a learner to apply to the Head of Department for the registration of a learner to receive education at the learner’s home;
(b) lay down procedures for the administration of registration for a learner to receive education at home; and
(c) develop a checklist for visitation and assessment for a learner who receives education at home.

3.2 The scope of this policy applies uniformly to all applicants who apply for education at home, as well as registered learners receiving education at the learner’s home, in the Western Cape Province.

4. Legislative framework

South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996)
National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act 27 of 1996)
Policy for the Registration of Learners for Home Education – Government Gazette 20659 of 23 November 1999 (Government Notice 1411 of 1999)

5. Criteria for registration

5.1 A parent of a learner of compulsory school-going age must apply to the Head of Department, in the prescribed manner for the registration of the learner to receive education at home, such application must be submitted to the Head of Department not later than 30 September of the year preceding the beginning of the school year in which a learner wishes to start education at home.

5.2 The following compulsory phases of education, for which registration by the Western Cape Education Department is required, can be offered for education at home:

5.2.1 Foundation Phase (Grade 1-3)
5.2.2 Intermediate Phase (Grade 4-6)
5.2.3 Senior Phase (Grade 7-9)

5.3 A learner who is no longer of compulsory school-going age need not apply for registration for education at home.

5.4 A learner who wishes to continue with the senior phase (Grade 10-12) after he or she has completed Grade 9, must either enrol at a public school, a registered independent school or employ the services of a registered private service provider to enter for the National Senior Certificate Examinations.

5.5 A learner who is registered for home education is not exempted from compulsory school attendance.

6. Registration process

6.1 The parent of a learner must apply for registration for education at home for each of the phases referred to in paragraph 5.2. on the prescribed application form, Annexure A (WCED 085).

6.2 The Head of Department, must make available an application form (WCED 085) to any parent who wishes to apply for approval to educate his or her child at home, together with the following documents or information:

6.2.1 Information pertaining to the national curriculum of the school phase of the learner.

6.2.2 Minimum standards relating to assessment within the school phase of the learner.

6.3 A parent must complete the prescribed application form (WCED 085) for education at home and include the following documents or information:

6.3.1 A certified copy of the birth certificate or identification document of the learner.
6.3.2 A transfer certificate from the school, if the learner was educated at a public school or independent school prior to being educated at home
(The learner will retain his or her Central Education Management Information System number).

6.4 If the Head of Department is satisfied that the application meets the requirements and that all the conditions in paragraph 7 below have been complied with, the Head of Department must, approve the application and register the learner for education at home and provide the parent with a certificate of registration within 30 days after receipt of the application on the prescribed form.

6.5 Registration under sub-paragraph 6.4 remains in force until the learner reaches the end of each phase, or until it is revoked.

6.6 If the application is declined, the Head of Education must inform the parent, within 30 days, in writing of the reasons for the decision.

7. Conditions for education at home

7.1 The registration of a learner for education at home is subject to the

7.1.1 submission, with the application, of supporting arguments to justify that education at home will be in the interest of the learner and that the learner will benefit from it;

7.1.2 learner receiving at least 3 hours contact teaching time per school day;

7.1.3 parent understanding of, acceptance of and is equipped to fulfil the responsibility of education at home for the learner; or

7.1.4 taking into account the circumstances of the learner or parent;

7.1.5 character of education at home as an alternative to compulsory school attendance; and

7.1.6 monitoring of education at home by the Department at any stage.

7.2 To determine what would be in the best interest of the learner, the parent must provide information about the programme that will be followed and learning resources that will be available.

7.3 The parent of a learner must submit the proposed curriculum to be used for education at home for approval by the Head of Department, which curriculum complies with the minimum requirements of the curriculum in public schools of the province.

7.4 The learning programme must suit the age and ability of the learner in such a manner that it

7.4.1 is not inferior to the standard of education provided at public schools; and

7.4.2 complies with the language policy and the outcomes specified for each of the phases.

7.5 The education provided at home must be consistent with the values contained in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the Act.

7.6 Parents who choose education at home for reasons related to curriculum, philosophy and pedagogy must not instil unfair discrimination, racism or religious intolerance in learners.

8. Prohibitions

8.1 It is prohibited for a parent of a learner, who is registered to receive education at home, to

8.1.1 provide education for that learner at a home other than the learner’s own home; and

8.1.2 form tutorial groups or clusters with other learners.

9. Record keeping, monitoring and evaluation of progress

9.1 After the learner has been registered for education at home, it is the parent’s responsibility to

9.1.1 keep record of attendance;
9.1.2 keep a portfolio of the work of a learner;
9.1.3 maintain up-to-date records of progression of the learner;
9.1.4 maintain a portfolio of work of the learner with evidence of interventions and other educational support provided;
9.1.5 keep evidence of continual assessment of the learner’s work, by a competent assessor, which reflects the learner’s progress towards achieving the outcomes of the learning programme;
9.1.6 keep evidence of assessment at the end of each year of education at home and at the end of Grades 3, 6 and 9 stating whether or not the outcomes for these grades have been achieved; and
9.1.7 keep all relevant assessment results for a period of three years for monitoring by the Head of Department.

9.2 At the end of every phase, the parent should appoint an independent, qualified person(s) approved by the Head of Department at the parents own expense for the assessment of the learner’s progress at the end of the phase that the learner is completing.

9.3 A parent may approach a public school for assistance or to obtain such services.

9.4 The person(s) appointed by the parent in sub-paragraph 9.2 or the principal of the public school in sub-paragraph 9.3 must submit a statement to the Head of Department, confirming that the learner so assessed has indeed reached the required level.

9.5 If a learner, of compulsory school going age, is admitted to a public school or registered independent school, the parent must request the Head of Department in writing, accompanied by documentary proof of admission of the learner to a public school or registered independent school, to terminate the learner’s registration for education at home.

10. Withdrawal of registration

10.1 The Head of Department may withdraw the registration of a learner who is receiving education at home if,

10.1.1 after investigation, the Head of Department is satisfied that education at home is no longer in the interest of the learner;

10.1.2 having made a reasonable effort to obtain or verify relevant information

(a) any information contained in the application is false; or
(b) any criteria or conditions in paragraph 5 or 7 are not complied with.

10.2 The Head of Department may not withdraw a learner’s registration for education at home before –

(a) informing the parent in writing of his or her intention to take such action and the reasons thereof;
(b) granting the parent an opportunity to make representations to him or her in relation to such action; and
(c) giving due consideration of any such representations received.

10.3 If a learner falls within the compulsory school-going age category when the registration is withdrawn in terms of sub-paragraph 10.1, such a learner must either attend a public or registered independent school.

11. Appeal

11.1 A learner or the parent of a learner may, within 14 days of receiving notification of the withdrawal of registration, appeal to the Provincial Minister against the withdrawal of a registration or a refusal to register a learner in terms of section 51(5) of the Act.

11.2 The Provincial Minister must respond to the appeal within 21 days of receiving it.

12. Review

This policy must be reviewed when the need arises or in the case of changed circumstances, including changes to legislation and/or regulations and budgetary.

Signed at ……………………………………this……….day of ………………..2014


Monday, November 11, 2013

Applying the methodology of Bullying(BBBP)

BBBP stands for Big Brother's Bullying Practices(s)

What I am referring to here is not the everyday bully that is described in Wikipedia as being the one that bully your child at school.  Everyone knows someone who knows someone that has either been physically or mentally bullied at school or work.  There are all sorts of suggestions out there that will give you indications of how to handle these situations. This is not the place for that.

Today I am on about a much more sinister and methodically planned and executed bullying tactic being applied by South African Banks.  When I make the statement  of whether they have a formal or informal division that devise and execute these actions it begins to sound like an exercise in conspiracy theories, doesn't it.

Look at the following scenario and decide for yourself :
In South Africa we have various acts of parliament that was recently promulgated and are in full force.  I refer to the National credit act that prescribe to banks ,among'st others,   how to interact with consumers and what is allowed and what is not.

The other major breakthrough was the enactment of the Consumer affairs act which again prescribe the relationship between supplier and customer (provider and consumer) and the rights of both parties are firmly entrenched.

The last act that needs to be mentioned here is the Financial intelligence act or FICA for short. This act has only two major issues at hand. The first is to force credit providers and banks to "know their client" Know who he is, and where he lives and what he does with his money.  The second is to curb money laundering.  It has thus nothing to do with a clients' chosen domicilium address which can be changed at will by the client and there is no obligation on the side of the client to prove anything about this address - he merely has to choose it and of course tell the financial institution involved that he has chosen this address.

Any law or act is only effective if is policed and applied by all parties concerned.  Corporate South Africa will always see how far they can push the boundaries to suit their causes and if this pushing of boundaries is not regulated properly that law will become useless at the end of the day (or sooner ) (This is where the bullying starts)

Take for instance the process a credit provider must follow if a debtor defaults on his commitments.  Please note that this process is prescribed irrespective of the reasons for the default. Amongst others it prescribes a notice to be delivered to the distressed debtor (preferably at his domicilium address ) giving him options as to how to handle the situation (It does not prescribe to the creditor that he merely send a notice via any means to the debtor in the hope that the debtor actually receive the notice.)    The act of actually receiving such a notice (or any legal document for that matter )by the debtor has been confirmed in no uncertain terms by various court judgments against creditors.

This action is then also a prerequisite for any court action that might be instituted against the said debtor. However in the past contracts contained clauses like " It will be assumed to have been delivered within X days of posting"  The NCA now effectively outlaws this principle.  

BBBP nr 1 :    Ignore the NCA and send off the notice with no tracing system in place to monitor receipt.
BBBP nr 2 :    Irrespective of the above issue summons on the debtor (Not at his Domicilium address - he
                       might just get the summons in time to defend the action.  Look for the oldest address on
                       record and use that.)
BBBP Nr 3 :   Irrespective of  court judgments against us or similar institutions just go ahead and issue
                       notices and summonses not conforming to the law as the (poor) client will not know the
BBBP nr 4.     Make use of attorneys in far off places so as to confuse the client.
BBBP nr 5.     Irrespective of the fact that a client might have a home loan on a property try and get an
                       attachment order using BBBP nr 2.for some other debt he might have with us.. The client
                       will be none the wiser and we the BBB will have full control over the asset.
BBBP nr 6.     Always keep the client out of the loop - he will not intervene with court proceedings - he
                       does not have the money, the inclination or the savvy to go up against us  BBB's.

SELA  - for and on behalf of all BBBP's out there !

 Stand up to Corporate Bullies 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Human Spirit and growing old(er)

Recently whilst watching a bit of Rugby (which incidentally was a great achievement for me as I view rugby as reasonably monotonous, as is most sport ) some quotes on advertisements by one of the sponsors about the human spirit caught my eye.  The fact that the sponsor is a bank really surprised me as I have never seen a bank align themselves with their quotes.    This one doesn't either. But that is not the reason for this post

The Human spirit. It does not grow old so why should our thinking do ?
When we have no more challenges the human spirit will start decaying - It has nothing to do.  So what am I saying ?  

We have moved into a retirement village recently and somehow suddenly things are starting to change. The way of thinking in the village is different. Everything is happening slower. Ok not everything - I haven't seen more of a hive of activity from workers like over here.  Everyday something is being done somewhere. Roads are cleaned, communal grass is being watered and cut, new trees are being planted all over the village etc.
Come evening ,around 4.30 or so the workers disappear magically and the residents start walking themselves and their dogs. Now suddenly it is time for chatting and if your door is open yesterday's new friend might just pop in.  Got to get used to this !

The point I am getting to : Retirees are not old people - they are just perceived to be so.   They have the knowledge of a lifetime and once one starts to chat with them you find out that all they want is to be acknowledged. And to become a friend or acquire a new one.   You are not here to impress anyone - Should you have a flashy car that is your problem - no one is impressed. I think the fact that every single one of us had to unclutter our lives ( I literally threw away at least 40 years of accumulated junk which is more than what is left ) is a bit of an equalizer.

I will be posting some more on this subject in the coming months - just have to align myself to this new life !

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Some days are diamonds some days are stones

John Denver's words  are so applicable to a day like today.  A bad diamond day - or maybe I should call it a bad doctor day - you know like in a bad hair day - just different.  Hester's mom has to go in for an operation  at the "world renowned" (sic)  Unitas hospital.  The doctor was an hour late for the pre-op interview - no excuses nothing - it is as if that is totally the norm and totally acceptable.  Mom was getting really tired (she is turning 90 this year) sitting in her wheel chair in the reception area where the airconditioner has gone south a few months ago ( my perception).  Then we got stuck on the 4th floor when the only lift going there packed up. Around half an hour later a technician got it fixed.  This optimist was getting warm around the collar.  If the staff wasn't so nice I would have blown my top - Didn't I mention it was a stone day?

I am now sitting in the waiting room writing this piece and waiting for the freakin aneathesist who we have to convince that he has to charge mom medical aid fees - One of the nice things in this process is that the form he had her sign about the extra "out of medical tariffs" does not conform to the law and I just decided there will be no argument there - I will enlighten him about that once the account arrive.  I just don't have the power for an argument this time of the evening.

I am now getting to the point where I am thinking of that nice Whisky I am going to have when I get home and I also getting a bit calmer and probably the stone do have a little bit of a shine to it - maybe , just maybe that is how diamonds are formed - waiting patiently for the stone to show its real colours !

I was just not born for this type of stone days !