Opinion / 8 September 2019, 11:27am / Dennis Pather
This burning desire to aspire to such high office in the legislative assembly has little to do with altruism.
It’s got everything to do with my yearning to being spoilt rotten - you know, free accommodation, three-course meals, a few drinks on the house and a juicy annual salary of anything between R1.2million to R2.4m thrown in for good measure.
Not to mention the 84 free flights a year, a R120 000 car allowance and free phones, tablets and laptops.
Compare the salaries and perks of our MPs to those of their counterparts in Sweden - regarded as one of the happiest and most stable countries in the world.
Swedish lawmakers live comfortably but far more modestly - they don’t enjoy the luxury of official cars and private drivers. They travel in crowded buses and trains like all commuters and mainly live in small flats where they look after their own meals and do their washing and ironing.
Back home in South Africa though, some of our MPs are fiercely resisting any attempt to curb their lavish lifestyles.
They’re actually insisting on more gravy on their taxpayer-sponsored meals.
For instance, ANC MP Peace Mabe, the co-chair of the committee on the financial management of Parliament, feels MPs deserve more because they’re not satisfied with what they have.
“For us just to be here, we’ve left comforts of our homes to come and serve the country,” she is quoted as having told a Sunday newspaper.
Oh dear me, my heart bleeds for the Honourable Member Mabe.
I’m beginning to wonder whether taxpayers should perhaps volunteer to pay higher taxes to help her and her struggling colleagues out of their misery.
Maybe the millions of jobless South Africans can contribute too?
While there are admittedly some very competent public representatives in the House, do our MPs deserve the generous payouts and perks they receive?
Are the majority of our MPs fulfilling their constitutional mandates?
It’s hard to tell because under our electoral system, there is no proper relationship between voters and MPs because people vote for a political party, not someone they wish to represent their interests and needs.
It’s quite easy for many “passengers” seated in the House to do nothing else but cheer their own and jeer the rest.
Last week, I watched proceedings of the state capture commission as Judge Raymond Zondo wrung his hands in frustration over the pathetic state of affairs in our embattled state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, Denel, the SABC and Transnet.
And he asked, in the humblest of tones, a pertinent question which I paraphrase here: what role did our Parliamentarians play in keeping the government-sponsored entities on the straight and narrow?
Had our MPs exercised their constitutional oversight obligations, would the SOEs have degenerated into the woeful mess in which they find themselves?
Where were our Honourable Members when our country was being looted?
I’ve changed my mind about becoming an MP. I didn’t join the Struggle to be pampered.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.