First the bad news: the Zuma presidency is a national catastrophe. Starting with that R70 million-odd private palace compound in the hills of Nkandla, the half-dozen wives (and another two wives-in-waiting) and the 22-and-rising number of children. Why should we complain – if he’s paying, it’s his private business. There’s the rub. He’s not paying; we know what he earns, so we know he can’t be paying. We’re paying – and we can’t even afford the basics: schools, clean water – and sewage works. If we’re not paying for Zuma’s pleasures, someone else that we need to know a lot more about is paying for them.
A delusional hard-core of tribal traditionalists who still live in another age might tolerate the idea of a chief surrounding himself with wives – and the requisite loyal spies – and then regarding himself as entitled to tribute from all in the tribe.
But Zuma is supposed to be the president of a modern democracy, where the overwhelming majority of citizens don’t subscribe to those values.
He symbolises all that is wrong with this administration, from top to bottom, from beginning to end: the arrogant, stupid, gross misallocation of national resources.
Over the past two months, parliamentary portfolio committees have been receiving financial reports and interrogating senior officials of one government department and agency after another. As varied as they might be, one boring theme emerges, unfailingly, in all of them: they have grossly misspent their budgets and they want more money if we expect them to do the job they were appointed to do. But there is no more money. The defence force is a disaster, thanks to the arms deal; social services is a disaster, with hundreds of young social workers, trained at taxpayers’ vast expense, unable to serve the taxpayers’ needs – because the funds needed to employ them have been misappropriated; education has declined to the point where it could spark a revolution any day now – because a quarter of the budget has been stolen, or should we be saying “taken as tribute by our tribal leaders”? Police are an embarrassment; Health, Mines, Water Affairs, Fisheries, Local Government, Eskom, the SABC – you name it, the story’s the same.
In a flyer that recently went viral on the internet, Johannesburg attorney Deon Botha warned those who intend signing up as registered E Tag users on Gauteng’s toll roads hoping to benefit from the promised discounts, that they are also signing up to be entrapped in a spider’s web of legal restraints and concessions in Sanral’s favour that could cost them dearly – and leave them defenceless – come the day of reckoning.
Mr Botha ought to know: quite apart from being expert in the provisions of the new Consumer Protection Act, his own speciality is “corporate debt recovery”.
Before he gets around to revealing some of the really nasty clauses in the contract, he points out that it states only that those who sign up may qualify for discounts, not that they will qualify. In case the implications of that are unclear, Sanral also gives itself the right to change the terms of the contract at will, without so much as a by-your-leave.
Botha lists no less than 26 disadvantages for motorists who elect to sign up. Here’s the one that fits our theme best: “Motorists are given three payment options for topping up their E Toll accounts namely, pre-paid accounts, manual top-up payments, and automatic top-up payments; all are risky, taking into account that you are contracting with a wholly owned state company where corruption is the order of the day.”
Is it possible to resist the flood? With the help of a press free to blow the cover on a corrupt state’s dirty secrets, yes. The gatvol factor is growing by the day, both without and within ANC ranks. Our first hope is that Mangaung will see Zuma and his corrupt cohorts packing. Failing that, sooner rather than later, the electorate will reckon with the ANC.
Meanwhile, in or story Graft Busters in this issue (with the permission of the South African Medical Journal) you will learn how a man of courage, conviction and enterprise is able to turn the tide. – The Editor
In nose150 we promised an update on Noseweek’s court encounter with fashionista Inge Peacock. We are glad to note that Stuttafords has done the right thing and placed an order for their 2012 winter collection directly with R&R Anonymous Knitwear, bypassing questionable brokers. Zainab Bohardien and her staff are overjoyed.
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