One doesn’t expect much from modern politicians. It’s generally accepted that those who enter the political profession are greedy, self-seeking and corrupt. We see it in almost every country. But South African political leaders manage to go beyond mere corruption.
Every day we read of new ways our leaders have stolen taxpayers’ money.
The sheer volume of corruption is enough to take your breath away. Last Sunday’s newspapers pointed accusing fingers at some of the scams our leaders have devised.
State funerals, for example, seem to be a bottomless well of free money, as pointed out by Minister Patricia de Lille.
Somehow we taxpayers were conned into paying grave diggers R30000 to dig three state graves, for example. Ten thousand rand to dig a hole in the ground!
What were they using? Solid platinum spades and diamond encrusted picks?
I could have saved the taxpayers thousands of rand by asking the gardener who comes to work for me to dig the graves. He’s a digger of great skill and would probably dig a perfectly comfortable grave for one-tenth of the price. One newspaper reported that R470000 had been paid for serviettes for the guests at two state funerals.
At that price those serviettes must have been woven from the silk from free-range Chinese silkworms harvested at full moon!
It’s easy to divert attention away from these monstrous extravagances. If anybody should question them they would be accused of disrespect to the memory of national heroes. You can’t expect guests at a state funeral to wipe their mourning mouths on mere paper serviettes, can you?
The trouble is that we are generous, hospitable people.
When you invite people to a funeral or a political rally you like to treat them well.
Oxen must be slaughtered and free T-shirts handed out and free drinks served all round. We like to be seen as generous hosts. At time like these we don’t want to quibble about costs.
We know there are killjoys out there who mutter morosely about stuff such as unemployment and crime.
They concentrate on the bad stuff. They say we are suffering from Eskom’s power outages, but hey, we should focus on the fact that we have electricity for almost 20 hours on most days. Why moan about the mere four hours of darkness?
Our forefathers managed perfectly well with paraffin lamps and candles.
They never complained about occasional bouts of darkness. We have become a nation of spoilt sissies.
Instead of sitting in the dark whimpering, we should be out there catching kudus with our bare hands and skinning them with our teeth and roasting them over a fire of buffalo dung. This is Africa. Let’s not forget it.
Some friends were discussing their origins. One was from French parents, one from American stock and so on. Eventually one said: “I am international. My granny was French, my granddad has Irish and my dentist is a Scot.”
“What has your dentist got to do with it?” asked a pal.
“Well, you could say I’m from Scottish extraction.”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.