MONEY GROWS ON TREES!
Judging by recent revelations one would be justified into believing that the government is under the impression that money grows on trees?
Let us look at some of these excesses.
Of course the most notorious excess that we are aware of is the Nkandla debacle where R246mil has been spent on dubious security upgrades to President Zuma’s private home. This is 10 times the amount that was spent on former President Mandela’s two homes and 20 times the amount spent on the home of former President Mbeki’s home. Despite the fact that the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that these “essential security upgrades” included a swimming pool, an amphitheatre, a chicken run and a visitors’ centre had unduly enriched the President he and his henchmen are trying to make the whole Nkandla scandal go away. In fact police minister Nathi Nhleko announced that even more would have to be spent to upgrade the Nkandla security system.
This is not the only excess that Zuma has been complicit with recently. He flew to Russia for the VE Day celebrations on 8/9 May 2015. It was reported that en route the presidential Boeing Business Jet (“Inkwazi”) developed a minor technical problem that would have required an additional fuel stop on the way back to South Africa.
However, this was apparently unacceptable and became a major debacle, costing millions of Rands:
- a Boeing Business Jet, operated by Longtail Aviation, was routed from Dubai to Moscow to transport the President to Pretoria but for some reason was not utilised;
- therefore a Bombadier Challanger 605, operated by Hyperion Aviation, which was based in Moscow, was eventually utilised to transport the President back to Pretoria; and
- the Ministers and officials accompanying the President were stranded in Moscow and needed to use commercial flights to return from Moscow to Johannesburg. At the taxpayers’ expense.
There was reportedly no reason, other than an additional fuel stop, why the President could not have returned on “Inkwazi” and millions of Rands could have been saved.
To add insult to injury this week the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, refused to disclose details about the millions of Rands wasted on flights for President Jacob Zuma during the visit to Russia.
In a reply to a parliamentary question probing the cost of the flights undertaken by President Jacob Zuma during his recent visit to Russia, the Minister claimed:
“As previously indicated in response to repeated similar questions, the Ministry and the Department deems all information relating to the movement of the President and relevant operational planning requirements as security sensitive. This information will not be made public and will be submitted to Parliament through a parliamentary channel that protects such information.”
Considering that flight occurred about a month ago the mind boggles that the information requested and is retrospective can possibly be “security sensitive”. It smells of another cover up.
This past week also saw the President receive a pay increase to R2.75mil per annum, he is the fourth highest paid head of government in the world and follows President Obama R5.0mil; Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper R3.2mil; German Chancellor Angela Merkel R2.9mil and is higher than David Cameron UK R2.5mil In fact it is more than what the presidents of Russia, India and China earn collectively.
The earning of the heads of government for the BRICS nations is as follows:
Brazil – Dilma Rousseff R1.475mil per annum
Russia – Vladimir Putin R1.700mil per annum
India – Narenda Modi R0.372mil per annum
China – Xi Jiping R0.270mil per annum
South Africa – Jacob Zuma R2.750mil per annum
I would regard this as excessive considering the levels of poverty in our country. Consider that David Cameron and the United Kingdom cabinet ministers have not taken a salary increase since their election in 2010 and have announced that they will not take one during this term that ends in 2020.
But this is not the only excesses, in reply to another question in parliament Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi revealed that in the past 4 years the Department of Health has incurred R1.2 billion in legal costs relating to medical malpractice.
However, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has blamed ‘excessive charges’ and ‘unprofessional conduct’ by the litigating lawyers’ fraternity, and proposed a limit on malpractice pay-outs instead of launching an investigation to ascertain if poor medical practices are possibly the cause of the malpractice claims, with the result that little or no remedial action is being taken on a hospital by hospital basis. Hence the problem continues.
This week also saw the release by the Auditor General of the municipal audit outcomes report in the National Assembly. Kimi Makwetu, the Auditor General’s report revealed that only 40 of the country’s 278 municipalities, and 18 out of 57 municipal entities, achieved clean audits.
The audit report showed that out of the 335 audited municipalities which include 57 entities, 264 incurred R11.4bn in irregular expenditure and 250 audited municipalities and entities accounted for R687m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Furthermore 190 municipalities and their entities, incurred R11.4bn in “unauthorised expenditure”.
The General Kimi Makwetu’s also expressed his concern about the continued “overreliance” on consultants by municipalities – who spent R3.1bn of their R315bn budget in 2013-2014 on consultants. This necessity to appoint consultants is a direct result of municipalities trying to meet their employment equity targets by getting rid of qualified employees and being unable to replace them with suitably qualified redeployed cadres.
Of course we must not forget the numerous golden handshakes given to those cadres who have shown some independence and not always done the bidding of number 1. The latest case is that of the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Mr Mxolisi Nxasana who President Zuma instituted an inquiry into for not having the necessary security clearance. It would appear that this was merely the pretext to rid himself of the NPA head by pressuring him to take an exit package, reportedly to the tune of R17, 3 million.
Even more bizarre is the President has appointed Dr Mashau Silas Ramaitse who is the subject of criminal proceedings for alleged drunken-driving. It is also unclear whether or not he has the requisite security clearance to even be the prosecutions head.
Other golden handshakes include senior employees of the SA Revenue Services Anwa Dramat, the commissioner received R13.0 million, and his deputy Ivan Pillay received R2.5 million. Over the years the government has shown a disturbing tendency to pay out taxpayer’s money to bureaucrats in a non transparent manner with no formula or logic on how these amounts are arrived at. Some of these are Coleman Andrews of SAA who received R232.0 million. Also from SAA Andre Viljoen R4.6 million, Khaya Ngqula R8.0 million. The SABC has also had its share of payouts such as Dali Mpofu R13.4 million; Phil Molefe R4.8 million and Lulama Mikhobo received R8.0 million.
These are some of the more publicised cases there are many more some of which the amounts have never been disclosed.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, I have not even discussed the alleged bribe for the 2010 soccer world cup of the budget over run on the Medupi power station which had on original budget of R32 billion and is now forecast to cost over R300.0 billion and is about five years behind schedule.
With this record of financial mismanagement it is little wonder that the South Africa growth rate is well below that of our neighbours, that service delivery protests are increasing and unemployment is spiralling out of control.
I have always believed that while there are some bad elements in the ANC there are a number of good people such as Cyril Ramaphosa and Naledi Pandor but when I see this mismanagement going on unheeded I begin to wonder………..
Until next week,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.