Looking after number one

Caught snuffling in the trough, our leaders plead ignorance. And they want us to believe them!

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Every time I take out my bank card to buy something, I ask myself if I really need to purchase the item. I’m sure that parents, in particular, can identify with this! Parents are in a position of leadership and our children’s welfare depends on how wisely we spend our money.

It goes without saying that parents need to have their families’ interests at heart when deciding how to spend their money. A father who says that he cannot afford to clothe his children properly yet buys fine clothes for himself is hardly being caring or responsible.

In some respects, our political leaders have the same sort of responsibilities as parents. They have the authority to spend money on our behalf, and to do this, they obviously need to have the public’s interest at heart. In fact, they are in an even greater position of trust than parents because, unlike children, we give them our money to spend!

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Yet recent activities by our most senior politicians suggest that they seem to care little about our interests. There have been several appalling examples where public funds have been squandered on private luxuries. And what has made these even worse is the pathetic excuses given for this expenditure. President Jacob Zuma, for example, claimed that he simply was not aware that R250 million was being spent on Nkandla.

I don’t visit my parents’ home every day, but I’m pretty certain I would notice if their neighbours had relocated. I’d also ask why. If the answer was that they had to leave so that my parents’ property could be extended, the next question would be: how much have you paid them? And if it were R3,5 million, I would undoubtedly remember. I find it difficult to believe that the president was unaware of the costs of Nkandla, considering that everything was apparently reported back to him by the minister of Public Works.

I am no less disturbed by Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who defended her ignorance of the costs of hotel stays. Although I understand that public funds must sometimes be used to foot the bill, it is the ‘blank cheque’ attitude of politicians that is so alarming. I very much doubt whether any reasonable person would have this attitude when spending his or her own money.

Keeping track

When I have builders working on my home, I simply must know what every item will cost me. How could I keep track otherwise? And if the builders want to add extras, I find out their exact cost so that I can work out if I can afford them. If the contractor tells me that a cattle culvert on the property would be a good idea, my first question would be: is it really necessary? Then, how much would it cost? Most importantly, does installing the culvert mean that my family will be short-changed?

It seems that certain politicians are not prepared to ask these questions. In fact, the opposite applies: they appear to regard the public purse as a resource to be raided at will. And while they are using our money to live the high life, the public has to make do with the crumbs that fall from the table.