I was touched this week to read a story where a young girl had picked up a smart cellphone and handed it to the police who traced the owner. A rare ‘good news’ story in a country where wastage and theft is the order of the day and integrity an increasingly rare commodity, and where most would have pocketed the phone and thought nothing of it. Worst of all, few seem to be overly concerned about a rapid decline at just about every level of the economy that could lead very quickly to a state of near-anarchy, when most people are only worried about getting what they can while the going is good.
WHILE I would like to be able to turn things around and infuse readers with writings of optimism and hope, it seems that my pessimism is not only unavoidable but also totally justified, and one does keep hoping that a realistic look at what is a fairly dire socio-economic situation will spur the authorities into action. And even if they cannot find a solution to everything – after all, there is a global downturn and things look fairly bleak worldwide – then at least get their priorities in order.
I am rebuked because I criticise our ‘gift’ to Cuba of scores of our wildlife. One of my reasons for doing so is that we clearly cannot afford such extravagant gestures at this point in time, and it surely doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.
While the veterans and ‘struggle’ offspring continue to multiply in great numbers, and registration continues apace, causing additional stress on a treasury which already can’t cope; cases of corruption continue to spiral resulting in further huge losses; as millions in debt also mounts up at local government level as unpaid water and electricity fees accumulate to scary heights countrywide; we are at risk of the entire system collapsing. And worst of all, old age pensions apparently have not been paid. These are people who’ve worked a lifetime for that money and who more than deserve these paltry amounts, but in our country it seems, we have to look after the less-deserving before those who’ve earned their keep.
And while people cry for land, in some cases in my view unjustifiably so, for not everyone can or should own a farm, our political elite see nothing wrong with some of their number, including the President, having more than their fair share and mostly at zero cost too.
The monies that are still accruing to the state include the hard-earned tax dollars of working men and women in all walks, and one wonders what the outcome will be when such people refuse to pay up, like the thousands of residents countrywide who either can’t or won’t pay their municipal dues. What then will become of us? In short, we will be reduced to a state that is nothing short of anarchy.
So the last thing we should be doing at a time like this, is to make generous gifts worth untold millions to foreign governments, whether or not they deserve such payback for loyalty during the struggle years.
We have seen no tangible evidence of Government cutbacks or any form of sacrifice in the upper echelons: neither in containing the amount of foreign travel nor in rationalising and curtailing the grossly-abused S&T system; or forcing State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to get their houses in order and denying them bailouts and golden handshakes. This, while the ordinary man or woman, working or not, has to battle to make ends meet.
While we are still part of the world and have to bring our part accordingly, I also wonder whether state visits shouldn’t be reduced to the most essential, again, to save on costs and put our money where it is most necessary. I have no idea of the cost of a visit by, for example, King Mswati III of Swaziland, who comes next week, and what the returns may be in terms of trade with that country, but I would advise circumspection and prudence in costly matters of this kind.
In the meantime the depressing litany of media reports about much of what has been mentioned in this piece, will continue to unfold. If only there was real political will to stop the rot and get us back on the road to sanity. I am ambivalent about the ongoing debate on the next President, for example, because I just don’t think its going to change much unless we are open to finding answers in terms of candidates who can take the reins and get our country out of the quicksand of imminent bankruptcy.
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