After all the SOEs, SA needs a recovery plan for its taxpayers
While it may be lucrative for tenderpreneurs, the perpetual cycle of recovery is not an effective way to run a country.
Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism
This has been a heavy time for the South African taxpayer because we’ve been paying for a number things to be recovered. There was the SAA turnaround plan, a couple of Eskom plans, the Post Office something or other and lest we forget, the SABC. Some didn’t even have plans and just took the cash; Denel, SASRIA and the good ol’ Land Bank. Back in the day, at least the Development Bank of Southern Africa had a plan to lay claim to R7.9 billion but since then, have you heard of anything the Bank has done? Me neither.
And now, we have the amazing privilege of extending a lovely R47 billion in guarantees to Transnet for their recovery plan. Recovery from what though? It’s not like a foreign nation attacked Durban port with their air force. I can’t pretend that Transnet wasn’t profitable and functional before. Just, one day, poof and now they need R47 billion? How did they get to that point and why is there not a single head rolling?
Surely, if you’re costing the public purse R47 billion there needs to be something to show for it but even that is unclear and after the nothing we got in return for SAA and the massive overruns at Eskom, coupled with electricity price overdrives, there’s very little promise for successful turnarounds.
And you can pretend that this guarantee is not going to be cashed in. Maybe it won’t. It’s not really the question we should be asking. What should be in the heads being scratched is why it was necessary in the first place and so often across so many state-owned entities?
I get that, by nature, states tend to have inefficiencies but goodness gracious. We could axe the Lotto and set up a betting pool with which government department will get a bail out next because it will probably have worse odds than the lotto.
This perpetual cycle of recovery, while it may be lucrative for looting tenderpreneurs, is not an effective manner to run the country and we should step out of it and into a perpetual cycle of functionality. It’s simply impossible to run a country when your focus is on bouncing between neglect and profiteering patchwork repair. We don’t get the functionality we need out of that system.
How do we fix it? We could start by admitting that we can’t have a country that merely accepts and shrugs when an entity requires a recovery or turnaround plan. It’s just surreal that we’ve heard of plan after plan and the more plans get implemented, and funded, the more plans it appears we need. This just feels like a silly farmer overwatering his crops because they’re not growing and then continuing to overwater them with water he doesn’t have. Only here, we’re throwing plans at things that don’t work with money we don’t have.
ALSO READ: What is a matric certificate really worth?
It would be wonderful to have functional state entities and enterprises. Sure, that will require a plan or several. It’s just that, before we can get to those plans, we do need to address why we need them in the first place. One doesn’t simply require recovery from out of the blue unless one sinfully neglects or damages oneself.
And it’s exceedingly vital that we get on board with this kind of assessment because if we’re constantly bouncing from one recovery plan to the next, and pretending like the funding is simply going to come, there’s going to be an impossible recovery plan in our future: the tax-payer recovery plan.
Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits