by David Biggs
Listening to our President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) the other day, it amazed me how easy it was to conjure up a billion rand here and there.
Just a few words and we’ll spend R100 billion on water infrastructure and another couple of billion on training and so on. We might even spare a few rand on Eskom , although nobody seems to know how to handle that fiasco.
(I suspect the government sold the handbook to the toilet paper industry.)
What we are not told in great detail is where all these billions will come from. But, of course, we know. Every cent our government spends comes from taxpayers — you and me.
When we buy a shirt or a bottle of wine or a packet of chips some of our money goes toward keeping the water flowing from our taps, patching the potholes in our roads and paying teachers’ salaries.
It’s not Mr Cyril Ramaphosa’s money, or Pravin Gordhan’s money, it’s our money.
It’s up to us to see that the government spends our money wisely. Not many people I speak to believe our government is taking good care of our money.
Last week, as I sat on my stoep sipping cheap wine with friends, a naval warship sailed out of the Simon’s Town naval base and into False Bay where it stopped about a kilometre from shore.
My friends’ comments were interesting.
“Ah,” said one,”I suppose the admiral’s entertaining some buddies to an on-board sundowner.”
“Maybe the rear-admiral’s taking his mistress for a pre-Valentine warm-up cruise,” said another.
Several similar facetious comments followed. It probably costs a couple of hundred thousand of our tax rands to take that ship to sea, considering the cost of the trained crew – engineers, radio operators, navigators, sailors, galley staff and so on, as well as the necessary fuel and supplies.
I’m sure that ship was on a legitimate voyage, maybe a maintenance run or training exercise.
I found it an interesting reflection on SONA that everybody in that group of onlookers just assumed the ship was being used by a corrupt official for a selfish reason.
What a sad reflection this is on the reputations of our country’s leaders.
The tax inspector asked a tax-payer: “How can you explain owning a magnificent villa, complete with heated pool and all-weather tennis court, when you claim to earn only R6 000 a month?”
“I was fishing one day, “ said the tax-payer, “when I caught a beautiful golden fish. It spoke to me and said, ’if you let me go I’ll give you a magnificent seaside villa’, so I threw it back into the sea and it gave me this villa.”
“Do you expect me to believe that story?” said the tax-man.
“Well, there’s the villa to prove it.”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a 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.