News | Opinion
A group of mates and I used to go on an annual fishing trip to Henties Bay in Namibia. It involved weeks of planning and preparation and, of course, budgeting.
None of us had the keys to the National Treasury, so expenses were kept to a minimum while we aimed to take full advantage of the economies of scale.
For us, economies of scale meant that we could save on fuel costs if we were at least five men per vehicle.
And by bunking down three per room, our accommodation expenses were a fraction of what others paid.
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We’d all put money in a kitty. Every few days or so, our official “treasurer” would announce that he had good news and bad news.
The good news was always that the books balanced. The bad news, however, was inevitably that the balance was zero and that the kitty needed feeding.
I’m afraid that tomorrow, when the minister of finance steps up to the podium in parliament to deliver his budget speech, we will not be getting any good news.
The books cannot possibly balance – not after decades of fraud, corruption, wasteful expenditure, graft and looting.
And the days of a zero balance will also not be seen again in our lifetime. The prediction is that South Africa will slide further into record-breaking debt.
Of course, Tito Mboweni will yet again bask in a standing ovation from his colleagues when he outlines the growing number of people dependent on a small handout for their very survival.
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He’ll be patted on the back when he announces that he’s found a few trillion rands spare to keep SOEs afloat for season 27 of SA’s Got Tenderpreneurs, proudly sponsored by Luthuli House.
I know that running a country is slightly more complex than a fishing trip, but the same principles apply.
Those who want to go along must pay and the money in the kitty is not there for the treasurer’s personal amusement.
The number of people sponsoring the minister’s annual “fishing trip” are declining.
Pretty soon, when he asks for our contribution, people might just tell him to go fish!
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