According to the figures as published in the Business Report Budget edition (February 28), South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 2003 to 2013 almost fourfold, from R1.18 trillion to R4.26 trillion.
Will anyone disagree when I postulate that people in South Africa do not live four times better than in 2003? Why is that? Did we not spend four times more money, are we not four times richer?
Of course, we are not richer because GDP is a magician’s trick much-loved by finance ministers all over the world.
The figure that is supposed to measure a country’s wealth does nothing of the sort: it merely measures the turnover of the money, not what it has been used for.
If R10 billion has been spent on burglar alarms or R50bn by a Navy that cannot perform the upkeep of a 30m fishing boat, and unknown amounts of money disappear into the pockets of greedy and/or stupid politicians, it is evident the welfare of the people does not profit by such a money turnover despite an increase in GDP.
Finance ministers use GDP to try and show us how little they borrow while in reality they steer for bankruptcy, as shown by the US and most European countries.
When Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan took over from Trevor Manuel he started off modestly, and only borrowed 3.9 percent of GDP. No one knows what GDP is in any case, but what he did borrow effectively was 15 percent of total revenue.
In 2010/11 he did better still, when a whopping 27 percent of revenue was borrowed (only 6.5 percent of GDP), so that the minister could satisfy the irrational demands of his government pals. Since then he has kept the borrowing around 20 percent a year, and overspends by 20 percent of the tax revenue.
In his speech he did not tell us how much is paid on the country’s external debt, which must be colossal.
Yet, before him we had a finance minister whose like has not been seen anywhere in the world in the last century.
From 2006 to 2008 Trevor Manuel produced a Budget with a surplus. Yes, he spent less than he collected. That happened in the pre-Zuma years, so, we still could have some hope.
Gordhan’s “Really, tomorrow, will be better than today”, is vain, and nothing but wishful thinking.
Corporate corruption stems from state
On reading Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi’s article on why critics are not as vocal as they should be about corporate corruption (Business Report, February 25), it is because it comes back to the ANC government. Billions of rand are added to the cost of any infrastructure project because family and friends get a piece of the pie.
Even though no value input is afforded, black economic empowerment in its current form is the single most corrupt practice. It was a noble idea that went belly up simply for the most connected and powerful people in the government.
An example is an existing 187km highway, built and paid for by the taxpayer. An upgrade takes place and it cost 10 times more than if it was just built from scratch.
Another is school feeding schemes where bread is charged at R30 a loaf.
Whether it is a perception or not, the government have not done themselves any favours by promoting corrupt activities. They only have to listen to themselves on the Nkandla scandal and how they tried to put a spin on it.
There are too many facts surrounding the raping of the fiscus by the government, yet nobody was brought to book.
So, they should not play the racism card to cover up their follies.
ANC points fingers as it cannot handle criticism
In the article by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi about corporate corruption, in Business Report, February 26, he displays in side swipes against the DA in the Western Cape that the ANC is a bad loser and cannot handle criticism.
Nxesi would thrive in a former Eastern Bloc socialistic dictatorship with a muzzled press to suppress unpleasant news of incompetent government behaviour.
It could be an enlightening experience if the minister found leisure time for a visit to Deneysville on the Vaal Dam.
As an aesthetically minded official he would observe the difference in appearance when you travel through the DA governed area of Midvaal, Meyerton and Henley-on-Klip, before embarking on the aban doned R716 linking Vereeniging with Deneysville. There, 300m down main street at the info board you could observe the Free State Public Works Department’s attitude to service delivery.
This has little to do with corporate corruption, but a lot with corruption in the government. To divert attention and accuse private corporations makes little difference to the fact that the ANC government cannot handle criticism.
Hans J Ruggli
Minister trots out tired cliches to deflect focus
I was dismayed when I read the article by Minister Thulas Nxesi, “Corporate corruption is met with silence from usual critics”, (Business Report, February 26).
Nxesi’s theme is vital for our future well-being: corruption is beginning to have a negative effect on South Africa; both public and private sectors are guilty, we must be fair, consistent and honest in exposing and tackling it. However, as an experienced and respected former leader of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, he knows he should set an example of objective analysis of the problems.
His trotting out the political clichés of “syndicated organised crime by the big corporate entities”, the partisanship of the “mainstream media” and the bogeyman of the “monopoly corporate sector” give his article the flavour of propaganda.
He cannot resist playing the race card nor those of colonialism and apartheid.
Nxesi needs to take heed of the advice of Amilcar Cabral, whom he quotes: “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.”