As money flows from the coffers

2014-10-15 00:00

THE good news first — ahead of his maiden speech on October 22, the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, promises to cut public expenditure quite drastically.

Cuts in ministerial perks, public-sector wages, and limited bailouts for state enterprises seem to be on the cards and should be welcomed as money flows from our coffers into the pockets of politicians and civil servants largely unrestrained.

The bad news — the budget cuts are allegedly being made to make way for the Russian-acquired nuclear reactors.

I sincerely hope that this is not the case.

The waste of public funds continues unabated.

The claim that the ANC’s Tshwane regional secretary benefited from contracts to the value of R75 million from that same municipality over two years is as common as media reports that bombard us daily of crony capitalism, from the President’s Office down to municipal level.

Corruption is as incestuous as it is constant and this deluge of taxpayers’ money to enrich the ruling elite is unsustainable and will backfire sooner rather than later.

So when the Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula admits that Armscor is experimenting with a R1,6 million budget to find the perfect shoe for women in the defence force because defence force women have “weirdly shaped” feet, I wondered who got the tender this time.

This Cinderella’s ugly sister project has apparently taken six years to perfect and needs another year for Armscor to come up with the definitive female defence force shoe.

To quote the minister: “Due to the diversity in shape, variability in foot sizes and specific foot characteristics identified in the SANDF population, commercially available uniform footwear does not accommodate the full spectrum of the female SANDF population.”

So they had to do substantial research to characterise the South African female foot.

When I sent this newspaper article to a friend, she cracked up, asking: “Has the minister ever heard of Crocs?”

Who, might I ask, came up with this phenomenally stupid idea in a country where shoe factories and shoe stores abound?

This exercise demonstrates, indeed, how crazy our ministers have become about prioritising what is essential and what is not.

The famous Christian Louboutin, in his first year of sales, sold 200 shoes; today he sells 700 000 per year.

Given that each Louboutin shoe is individually crafted, it makes a joke of Armscor’s efforts to find the definitive shape for SANDF women.

This brings me to the topic of how the public feels about this relentless pursuit of wealth at our expense.

A few months ago, I was interviewed on a radio station on the topic of whether or not education is important for public servants, apropos Pallo Jordan’s fraudulent Ph.D.

It was a great show, led by John Perlman, with 99% of the callers demanding that public servants be suitably educated and qualified for their jobs.

The callers were predominantly black, who, at the receiving end of municipal corruption and incompetence resulting in power outages, potholes, inferior schooling, and rat plagues, unequivocally insisted upon the need for officials to be trained and competent so that they are able to address basic services effectively.

Instead, the ANC is so focused on controlling and owning the economy that it has lost sight of what democratic and clean governance intrinsically means.

What does the ANC see when it sees the conditions under which people live in this country?

Or does the ANC, with all its misappropriation of funds in every department and municipality, also live by the mantra of African Bank’s former chief risk officer Tami Sokutu: “F*** the poor”.

I am afraid that any minister who sets aside R1,6 million for the design of the perfect shoe for women in the military needs her head examined.

• Rhoda Kadalie is the executive director of Impumelelo.

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