Yes, we waste 294 Nkandlas annually

2013-11-24 10:00

We sure waste a lot of money.

Outgoing Auditor-General Terence Nombembe says we waste about R30?billion a year as a result of bad spending.

The Treasury has estimated corruption at about R30?billion a year.

That’s R60?billion a year we waste.

This is either through self-enrichment, padded procurement deals or inefficient and unbudgeted expenditure.

Anyway you cut it, it’s bad.

Thing is, we’re getting used to it.

Flip through newspapers, surf websites or watch television and you’ll see that levels of impunity are growing.

In the early days of our democracy, the attitude towards corruption was so intolerant that even R500 000 was a big story.

The amount was the bribe request President Jacob Zuma’s then financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, allegedly made to arms merchants on behalf of his client.

Now, it’s small compared with the real money being corrupted and wasted. We are growing immune to the corruption. We complain and hate it, but don’t really do anything about it.

Last week, Nombembe told City Press that the fuss over Nkandla obscured the big waste. This week, we take his advice to heart and show that the amounts of public money frittered every year could build 294 presidential estates like Nkandla.

It can also do a lot of other things. This week, we worked with the talented young people of the SA Institute of Race Relations to work out exactly how our wasted billions could be put to national service.

It is instructive. The money could make a sizeable dent in our current account deficit. It could be used to employ young people, put many of them through university and so be invested in tomorrow rather than feathering today’s nests.

If we want to spend socially, why not put up the old age pension grant? Our old folks’ money works hard to support many generations, as research continues to show. Or supplement the employment incentive idea (now before Parliament) with a jobseeker’s grant. Often, young people do not have transport money to get to a city or town centre to send a CV.

It could buy 5 million (yes, million) laptops to wire up the next generation of young people, build 670 000 RDP houses and generally give millions of compatriots a leg-up to a better life for more. So, don’t get tired of complaining about corruption. Your voice must be heard and this needless waste must stop.

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