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To loan or not to loan, is that really the question?

25 September 2012, 09:50

So the Finance Ministers of South Africa and Zimbabwe, Pravin Gordhan and Tendai Biti are set to meet in order to discuss a further loan to Zimbabwe.

On the surface, there is nothing unusual in two countries discussing assistance one to the other, monetary or otherwise. However, in this instance, no matter how much spin doctoring is applied to convey the impression that this loan could be a means of applying pressure to resolve the horrendous political issues in our neighbour to the north, should South Africa even be considering such a huge loan, rumoured to be in the region of R1 billion? There have been at least two other large loans made to Zimbabwe by South Africa in recent years, of R300 million each, which seem to have been merely swallowed up by an out-of-control government beset by political infighting and ongoing disastrous economic policies. Is that really South Africa’s issue to resolve, no matter how many SADC resolutions and promises have been uttered in the name of African unity?

A quick glance at our own financial issues provides an emphatic negative. Millions still live in poverty and squalor in South Africa, without access to basic facilities, despite the numerous promises from the government that progress takes time and that change is imminent. It has been imminent for 18 years – maybe it is time to change the word to pending? Service delivery protests notwithstanding, the state of public hospitals in several provinces is quite simply appalling, and worsening, and the crime rate, spin doctoring aside, again, is little short of scandalous. The police force too clearly needs a severe overhaul, which will also require funding. All of these issues affect us, the South African taxpayer, more particularly because we are supposedly funding these services, which currently are so glaringly lacking, with the taxes which we pay, on pain of prosecution for non-payment ( are you listening Julius?).

Then of course there are the infamous toll roads, the Gauteng Freeway Project. With the ongoing legal battles, with all sides screaming outrage and necessity, alternately, surely that large sum of money contemplated as a loan to another country could go some way towards easing the financial constraints within our own country? Sanral would be more inclined to apply reason and thought to the implementation of the tolls with the possibility of a reduction in its huge deficit by means of an injection of funds from government, surely?

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