One man, one helipad

2009-12-08 00:00

POOR Jacob Zuma. Why can’t he even have a builder at his home without the taxpayers having collective hysterics?

Mention taxpayers’ money and there’s an automatic knee-jerk reaction that goes something like this: here we are, working ourselves to death for a mere pittance, taxed to death, and then we have to watch the government fat cats leading a life of indescribable luxury, while millions starve.

The reaction is as predictable as the outcome of walking through the Johannesburg CBD with R200 notes sticking out of your pocket.

I mean, why can’t the man have a helipad? And staff quarters? And a clinic? He is the president after all. Okay, I draw the line at paying for renovating the olive green bathroom and paying for kitchen cupboards. The rest of us have learnt that if you just wait long enough, whatever you have will become retro, so why can’t the president do the same?

Right, so what’s my point? I feel that he’s worked hard and suffered a lot to become the president. So far he doesn’t seem to have done too shabby a job. I don’t expect him to go on state visits in charity shop suits, or to drive around in a battered Beetle. There is something about pomp and ceremony, and we South Africans actually quite like it, even though it costs. Maybe everyone likes it. I’m actually even okay with contributing a few rands towards his bathroom.

But I am not okay with endless self-important minor minions of state (mayors and MPs that no one has ever heard of, least of all the voters) drowning in lard while millions starve. Taxpayers have a knee-jerk reaction, simply because they have seen so much money going down the gullets of seemingly insatiable politicians.

There seems to be very little correlation in this country between the effort someone puts in, the results they achieve and their pay packet. In fact, the more of an embarrassment you are, the more they’ll pay you to leave.

There are too many people who treat state and municipal coffers like a personal lotto cash payout. And they get away with it again and again.

This would not have attracted so much attention if the majority of our population weren’t in such dire straits. Housing, health, education: they all need billions to be thrown at them. Millions of people live lives of indescribable poverty, filth and misery. The contrast between that and a life of marble and champagne is grimly vast.

And here’s the thing: we’re not a poor country. We have many poor citizens, but we also have many rich ones. We have large industries. Our food production is high. Our tax collection system is efficient. We’ve got cash, but it’s just not being spent in the right way.

I am not asking a lot of people in public office: take your salary by all means (unless it’s three times the amount you would have earned on the open market — is the mayor of Plett listening?), pay your taxes like everyone else, fly economy class, don’t rent limousines ever, don’t spend money on bling more than once a year and keep your hands out of the till. It’s not your money.

Maybe I am asking a lot. I have not reckoned with the nasty human traits of greed and self-importance.

And hell, who doesn’t want a helipad? - Health24.

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