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SAA Will Soon Be Rewarded With R10 Billion For Mismanagement And Failure

Why is it in the public interest to syphon billions of limited rands to save this train wreck that is SAA?

19/09/2017 03:59 SAST | Updated 19/09/2017 03:59 SAST
Waldo Swiegers/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images

In his essay "Why Government Is The Problem", Milton Friedman teaches us that there is a reverse invisible hand: "People who intend to serve only the public interest are led by an invisible hand to serve private interests which were no part of their intention." He's on the mark.

If you're in doubt, take a look at government dealings be it at Transnet, SABC, Eskom or SAA. People that are appointed to serve in these entities get into their positions with no intention other than to serve the public interest.

But once they are there, they are led by an invisible hand to serve private interests which were never part of their original intention. At Transnet, we have seen how contracts to procure locomotives to service the public have been twisted to profit the Guptas and their associates.

At the SABC, we have seen how broadcasting decisions have been twisted to serve President Zuma, the Guptas and their associates. At Eskom, we have seen how coal deals and other decisions have been polluted to reward the Guptas and their ANC associates.

Now we have SAA which will soon be rewarded with R10 billion for mismanagement and failure. No doubt the ANC was driven by noble intentions to serve the public when it was first elected into government in 1994. But is it possible to say today that the ANC is still in government with those original intentions to serve the public? Why is it in the public interest to syphon billions of limited Rands to save this train wreck that is SAA?

Thomas Sowell may just have the answer. I stumbled upon this quote of his: "It is too easy to be wrong -– and to persist in being wrong –- when the costs of being wrong are paid by others." The reason our government leaders persist in their wrong and reckless decisions of throwing limited public money in the air is that they personally do not have to pay any price for being wrong. Someone else always pays for their mistakes –- the taxpayer.

In a country that is waist-deep in unemployment and poverty, the Zuma government has a disdainful attitude towards the taxpaying public.

It is my argument that in addition to the general power citizens have in a democracy to vote out politicians when they make mistakes, the time also has come for South Africans to stop paying taxes when the government brazenly misuses taxpayers' money and rewards them with a cavalier attitude when they complain.

The scandalous reward to SAA while retaining Dudu Myeni as the chairperson and the dramatic admission by President Zuma at the Supreme Court of Appeal after eight years of fruitless litigation with taxpayers' money should be triggers for this kind of civic resistance.

In a country that is waist-deep in unemployment and poverty, the Zuma government has a disdainful attitude towards the taxpaying public. While everyone will be required to make a small sacrifice for the farce that is SAA either through higher taxes or reduced public services due to dwindling tax revenues, he and his cabinet carry on as bloated and expensive as they were in 2009.

There is no attempt at all by this government to make its own small sacrifice by reducing the number of ministers in the cabinet and try to do more with less. There is generally no justification for a cabinet of close to hundred people and there is even less justification for it during times of lower growth and dwindling tax revenues unless you are indifferent because someone else is paying for it while you pay no price for being wrong.

This is plain and simple. We have seen it in practice recently. Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his cabal at the SABC know today that wherever they are deployed in the future, harassing people and attracting fruitless litigation is risky should they be proven wrong.

In such a tax rebellion, arrangements could always be made to channel funds only required for these essential services directly to the relevant agencies.

The Constitutional Court has adopted the same attitude with Bathabile Dlamini over her skulduggery at SASSA. She will pay the price for being wrong. It is time South African taxpayers made their government pay for mismanaging their money by shutting down the government through lack of funding from their taxes.

There is one caveat. The elderly, children and patients should not be prejudiced for government's sins. To this, we may also add certain essential services such as hospitals, courts, prisons and the police.

In such a tax rebellion, arrangements could always be made to channel funds only required for these essential services directly to the relevant agencies. But ministries and the non-essential bureaucracy would have to shut down until the rebellion is over.