The F-word: Rulers who don’t play by their rules

2013-05-06 10:00

If ever we were in doubt, we should not be any more. The art of doublespeak has become official state policy.

The state is forever saying something and doing the direct opposite. They ask one thing of the citizen and don’t take their own advice.

The latest Gupta embarrassment is a case in point.

Our political leaders are forever telling us nobody is above the rule of law, yet guests of a politically connected family are able to circumvent the most basic of rules when entering a foreign country: that of presenting a passport at customs and, if you have anything to declare, doing so there.

In effect, the Gupta guests were no different to those who crawl under a fence, except that they were brazen enough to do this in full view of the authorities.

Instead of what correctly should have been called illegal immigrants being rounded up and sent back to where they came from – as happened with some Nigerians arriving here with alleged fake yellow fever certificates – they stayed on and enjoyed what their hosts’ money was able to buy.

At every given opportunity, the state appeals to the rule of law, divine teachings or that all-embracing “it is unAfrican” to appeal to a sense of right or wrong. Yet when faced with the same situations, they hide behind opaque rules and documents such as the presidential or ministerial handbooks.

Members of Parliament also keep their business interests safe from the public eye through their own confidential register.

The special dispensation given to the Guptas is starkly different to what small subsistence businesses are faced with. While the Guptas literally have a free ride and the likes of BHP Billiton enjoy subsidised electricity rates, small businesses are now faced with a myriad laws intending to make their already hard lives even more difficult.

Not content with wanting those who sell liquor on Sunday to stop, it now wants everyone who sells anything to register and have a permit.

As the state argues, with its envisaged ban on selling alcohol on Sunday, this is for our own good.

While there is every reason to believe there will be those whom the state successfully flushes out, the majority of its victims will be those caught in the crossfire of a gun battle they did not even know was happening.

It is the classic case of those who have a hammer as the only tool in their box seeing every problem as a nail.

It seems, for the state, the only way to deal with the social problems affecting the majority is to legislate. For the elite minority, the rules are, however, negotiable.

Small businesses, including taverns, are a direct outcome of a socially engineered project.

According to the state’s own numbers, there are 4.5?million jobless South Africans, excluding the 2.3?million who have given up the search for jobs.

So, with about 7?million people unemployed, it is a no-brainer that many will attempt to find ways of making a living.

The majority will try to do this legally by trying their hand at selling goods like loose cigarettes at street intersections or services such as hairdressing from their shacks. The state now wants to enact a law, the Licensing of Businesses Bill, to make life that little bit harder for them.

One is tempted to suspect the state wants a reason to criminalise its own citizens.

As is the case with the liquor laws, the state says this is for these businesses’ own good.

But it is getting ridiculous. The state cannot on the one hand say it encourages entrepreneurship and do whatever it can to kill it. It cannot celebrate April 27 as the day South Africa became free, yet continue treating citizens as children who need the state to nanny them.

The nation-building project demands that leaders lead by example. They must not make laws that are nothing but a burden to citizens, especially if they and their friends have no intention of following them.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.