Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Budget blues as Gigaba takes our beer away


had to follow the money to find out where I was.

With my blood sugar levels plummeting, I would approach my father on hands and knees. “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

After extinguish­ing his Ritmeester Quick in my ear and delivering a light whipping with his cat o’nine tails – a genuine, nine-tailed cat bred for the purpose of punishing profligate boys – he pinned me to the floor and once again explained the importance of budgeting.

Today, after all these years, I only have to hear the word “budget” and I curl up like a pangolin, weeping and shouting that I don’t understand numbers. It’s too terrible for words.

In an attempt to grasp what the VAT increase means, I turned to Twitter, a magnificen­t, monstrous oracle capable of containing all the truths and all the lies of the world within the infinite depth and darkness of its diabolical bowels.

Zeenat Moorad caught my eye. She’s something called a “money editor” and seemed to want to help halfwits like me to understand.

“Folks, the VAT increase works like this: it’s up by 1 percentage point from 14% to 15%; this is an increase of 7.1% in the VAT rate. So the impact is a 0.877% increase on what consumers pay.”

I’m not ashamed to admit I cried a little when I read that. I do understand numbers insofar as you get odd ones and even ones.

Fractions, though, are among the oddest numbers you can find. They make no sense at all. Ordinary people are unable to grasp the concept of 0.877% and I would like to marry Zeenat Moorad even though it would mean never eating bacon again.

There were others on Twitter who described the VAT increase in language I could understand.

One said it was punishing the poor. Union conquistad­or Zwelinzima Vavi said the entire Budget was an attack on the poor.

It’s a good thing they’re poor, then. If they could afford decent weapons we’d all be in serious trouble. Mind you, the storming of the Bastille went off rather well and those peasants were armed with nothing more than rusty muskets and pitchforks. Then again, they didn’t have to contend with an unreliable central line to reach Paris. If Metrorail ever gets its act together, that’s the end of Parliament.

Turning to our snappily dressed finance minister, Comrade Vavi described Malusi Gigaba in glowing terms. “An illegitima­te leader condemned by the courts of our land as a liar who broke his oath of office. Now about to tell workers they will pay for the mess he played a leading role in creating. I feel like vomiting right here in Parliament.”

That’s glowing so fiercely it’s damn near ready to explode.

My attention was snared by another, altogether more serious, tweet. “He has taken our beer away from us,” it read. My scream set off the neighbour’s dogs.

Judging by his svelte shape, Gigaba is not a man who regularly enjoys a case or two of Windhoek’s finest of an evening. In fact, he has the body of a teenage girl… But how dare he? How very dare he?

Drinking during the Mandela years was a vice. Drinking during Zuma’s reign of error was a survival mechanism.

From April 1, a bottle of wine will cost 22.5c more. I don’t care. Wine is an appalling habit. It makes your mouth turn inside out and the morning after drinking the filth you often find you have broken out in bruises and flesh wounds.

SINCE he rocketed to fame by winning season two of The Voice SA last July, singer/ songwriter Craig Lucas has found life, as he puts it, “really, really hectic”.

Some of this new turbulence comes from one new experience after another, and today brings with it a major novelty for the shy 24-year-old.

Lucas will take centre stage at Artscape Opera House with the Cape Philharmon­ic Orchestra – in a community gala concert designed to offer young stars a platform for their talent.

“It’s rather daunting appearing with musicians who, unlike me, are formally trained – and we aren’t going to have that many rehearsals,” he remarked a week before the gala.

At the time of this interview, Lucas had just returned from an appointmen­t with an

ENT specialist for a recurrent respirator­y

Beer goes up by 14c a can. I don’t know what that works out per case. You’d need to have studied maths at Harvard to do that kind of calculatio­n. But it’s a lot. You’re going to find many more people doing their drinking inside bottlestor­e fridges, I can tell you.

As for the rest, I don’t give a damn about the price of cigars and cigarettes. I used to smoke but gave it up when I realised that, if I wanted someone to assist in my suicide, I’d rather give my money to Mikey Schultz than a tobacco company.

Bad news for car thieves is that the fuel levy is going up by 22c a litre. Nobody understand­s how this works. I have never filled up my car, let alone deducted the levy so that I know what petrol would cost without it.

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) will go up by 30c a litre. This is also built into the petrol-price increase because without petrol you wouldn’t have accidents. I have never benefited from the RAF but I certainly intend to. I’m just waiting for the right moment to crash problem which causes discomfort when singing.

“Hopefully by Sunday I’ll be able to cope, as I’ve been given some medication to help the condition.”

The repertoire he will perform includes House of the Rising Sun, which he sang in The Voice SA competitio­n; Feeling Good, and one of his own compositio­ns which was released as a single earlier this month – Smother, in which he will be joined by Idols winner, 17-yearold Paxton Fielies.

“I’m not used to singing with other people, so this duet with Paxton is something else that’s new for me. But we get on very well, both profession­ally and personally.

“I don’t watch TV or do social media (until now, because I have to for my career), so I hadn’t followed Idols and didn’t know her until I was told on social media to ‘check her out’.

“That’s when I discovered we’re almost neighbours, as we grew up in the same environmen­t with only a railway line dividing our homes, so I’m like her older brother. She’s shy like me, although on stage we both come across as quite confident – more confident than we really are.”

Lucas said that for The Voice SA contestant­s were not allowed to sing what they wanted to; they had to conform to the repertoire of the show.

“That’s how I came across some vintage songs by singers like Michael Jackson… also Freddy Mercury (my mother is a great fan of Queen). In fact, I’m singing Don’t Stop Me Now, as well as some into something that will leave me sufficient­ly maimed to guarantee enough of a payout that I don’t have to keep writing rubbish for a living. Not that you can call this a living.

Once again there is no tax break on books. This is a good thing. An educated nation is a dangerous nation. Once they start reading, there’s no telling what they might learn. They might, for instance, discover that anarchy doesn’t mean rioting in the streets but is, in fact, a valid political philosophy where people reject authority and instead opt for self-rule. Imagine there’s no government. It’s easy if you try.

Estate-duty tax is being raised to 25% for estates greater than

R30 million. There’s something wrong with you if you die with that kind of money in the bank. Well, I suppose there was something wrong with you. But what the hell happened? Couldn’t you spend it all? It’s just not right. Death is not enough. You deserve to be penalised further.

Someone in Gigaba’s office who knows his way around a calculator has worked out that South Africa will need to borrow R224.2 billion this year.

And I thought I was bad with money. Quite frankly, I don’t know why they don’t just print more of the stuff.

A lot more people will be drinking inside bottle store fridges

other songs with the CPO in their Starlight Classics at Vergelegen on March 2 and 3.

“Like Mercury, I’m comfortabl­e (performing) in the higher register, and perhaps I’ll try some classical works as well as jazz, which I’ve always loved and wanted to do.

“There’s a strong element of jazz behind the modern lyricism of singers like Amy Winehouse, for example, and the members of my band (Major7) were all students of jazz at UCT when I was studying there – NOT music, as my mother said there was no future in it!”

He said “2018 feels like a year in which the world is my oyster, and fortunatel­y things are calming down a bit since the craziness of the last seven months”.

The Cape Philharmon­ic Orchestra’s Debut Gala Concert begins at 6pm at the Artscape Opera House tonight. Booking through Artscape Dial-a-Seat,

021 421 7695

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