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No returns allowed

19 June 2014, 12:56

Please consider the following scenario:

You walk into your favourite shop to buy a new radio. You take the model you want, pay for it and go home. Once you get home you find after unpacking the radio that it does not work… only plays Five FM and plays only the fourth track on every CD you own. You go back to the shop, speak to the shopkeeper who takes back the radio and gives you a new one or gives you a refund. You will agree that this is a scenario, which occurs quite regularly and would be considered as the obvious thing to do when the radio does not work.

Now lets take this scenario a step further. You get home with your brand new radio only to find that it is not working. You go back to the store to return it and the Shopkeeper simply refuses, stating that you paid for the radio, it is now yours and you should be satisfied with it. You merrily go on your way and for a while afterwards you listen only to Five FM and the fourth track of every CD you own. You will agree that this sounds extraordinary…..but strangely familiar. It sounds a lot like Government doesn’t it.

Taxes are paid to the Government, be it Local, Provincial or National, and, in return for the taxes, they have to render a service to the public. One does not have to look very far to realize that Government is failing dismally in this regard. During April it was reported that there had already been 48 service delivery protests to date this year and that was two months ago. People don’t have proper housing, sanitation and water and Government is not able to deliver same. People simply have to make do with the broken radio.

Returning to the radio scenario, imagine that when you buy the radio the shopkeeper takes R 100 of the price and puts in into his pocket and not in the till. Sooner or later the shop will start running at a loss, buy less stock and make less money. Also sounds familiar doesn’t it. Corruption is a huge problem in South Africa and the problem is only getting bigger. In fact, the problem has grown exponentially in the past few years. A recent report, based on documented fraud and malfeasance cases presented to parliament, found that the amount involved increased from R 130 million in 2006/07 to over R 1 billion in 2011/12.

Only recently we found ourselves in the midst of the Nkandla debacle, which is similar to the Shopkeeper selling you a broken radio, but he himself has the top of the range model installed at his home, all paid for by the R 100 of the sale of each radio being donated to the Shopkeeper’s home technology upgrade fund.

We are currently in the midst of another ESKOM load shedding cycle where, from time to time we hark back to the past and enjoy each other’s company by candlelight. The load shedding comes as a result of poor planning, poor maintenance and skills shortages. Maybe the ESKOM big wigs should take a pay cut and try to solve the mentioned problems. The load shedding equates to the Shopkeeper selling you a radio at an exorbitant price and telling you that you can’t use it between 7 and 10 at night. Quite strange.

Now the strangest thing of all is that, if you bought a broken radio, the Shopkeeper refuses to return it and shoves R 100 in his pocket from each sale of a broken radio, why would you go back tomorrow to buy another one.

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