Pravin should take some of his own medicine

2014-03-23 10:00

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, in an interview with City Press this week, warned of a growing culture in the public service that fuels the view that “if the man upstairs wants it, it must be done; what the costs are or what the law says does not matter”.

Madonsela’s words resonate in light of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s announcement this week that the cost of staging the inauguration of the country’s fifth democratically elected president in a few months’ time would escalate to R120?million, a steep increase from the R75?million spent in 2009.

The justification for this is that the number of heads of state attending has increased to 40. It is ironic that Gordhan was the one making the case for this unnecessarily lavish spending.

It is important that South Africa celebrates democracy and an inauguration ceremony is an affirmation that our democracy is still intact.

But R120 million veers towards excessive.

Particularly coming from Gordhan, who in October last year warned that “in these difficult times, there are many opportunities to cut or minimise costs, and stop abuse”.

Then, Gordhan was hailed for cutting perks to Cabinet ministers and other government officials on cars, accommodation and credit cards. Even Parliament heeded his call – and spending for the state of the nation address in February was reduced by R2 million from last year.

It is hard to believe it is the same man.

Given the opportunity, public representatives would love grand, lavish affairs, but the lessons of Nkandla should be heeded immediately.

Government needs to be more circumspect in spending taxpayers’ money on self-serving, elitist ceremonies that reinforce the gap between our leaders and the majority of citizens.

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