Land of plenty hobbled by the incompetence

Johannesburg – Where else in the world would an informal settlement develop in a month with hundreds, sometimes thousands of occupants, yet a parastatal with an annual budget of tens of billions of rand and an even bigger debt fails to oversee the construction of a mere block of flats that was supposed to costs R160-million?

It is an accepted fact that not only is Eskom unable to keep the lights on, but it also failed to ensure the building of a block of flats comprising just 336 units, which was supposed to house its employees who work at Kusile power station in Mpumalanga.

R804-million and eight years later, the flats are not complete nor safe enough for occupation, yet the power utility is not able to provide answers to the public even after an investigation, which sure cost more millions of rand, was conducted.

All Eskom could tell the public through parliament’s standing committee on public accounts was that it will conduct further investigations.

I tell you the truth: the informal settlement will be upgraded with basic services – or the residents moved to an alternative and suitable area long before Eskom is able to provide answers for the failed housing project and its bloated costs.

And because we are a country that is not loath to spending a fortune procuring coal from icemakers; buy face masks from ITC experts; pay a welder to supply water and award tenders for the building of RDP houses to companies that have been in existence for all of two minutes, we are only too happy to put in place a commission of inquiry to probe all the wrongs that were committed.

While the students are protesting against the financial exclusion of some who have debt and therefore cannot register until the outstanding fees have been settled, insane amounts of money are being spent at government departments and state-owned entities in a last-minute scramble to spend the funds to beat financial year end.

Yes, it is the season for government departments and entities to take taxpayers’ money and shred it to bits in an effort to use whatever has been allocated to them as they try to get more money for the new financial year.

Yes, it is the season for public servants who have been protesting after the government reneged on its wage agreement to be booked in expensive hotels to attend courses they did not even know they needed until this month.

It is that time of the year for fiscal dumping.

It is not easy for anyone to believe that there’s no money to scrap the debt of students, buy Covid-19 vaccines, honour public servants’ wage agreement, and build schools when later in the year the government’s annual reports will be riddled with evidence of last-minute dashes to spend money on programmes that have little to do with improving our quality of life.

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