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#PoeticLicence: We could do with R1.5 trillion lost through corruption right now

Author Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published Jun 27, 2021


Johannesburg - I grew up in the dusty streets of Green village, a township in Soweto where it took a village to raise a child. The streets lent a hand. You could get a hiding from your friend’s mother for acting up.

I was in Arade 9 a year after the dawn of the millennium, an epoch through which my perspective changed when my father, my sister and moved to Krugersdorp. She is 10 years my junior and was five at the time.

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This back story is an epilogue that concludes my lesson on “it takes a village to raise a child”.

We moved to a new village. The community was mainly white and Afrikaans. A people whom I knew as colonisers, who had taken our land and forced us to learn their strange tongue.

I never asked my father, who has been deceased for four years: “Why here?”

But I grew to understand perspective. And to take back the land, one square meter at a time.

My new lesson in the new village, a foreword to another chapter, was “good fences make good neighbours”.

My brief chat this week with Oom (this is what I call my neighbour, I still don’t know his name to this day. And that is okay) said; “the infrastructure in our country is older than me and probably in worse health than I am. It is no surprise that pipes burst every day”.

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Following the brief encounter, I wanted to write something about our country’s infrastructure this week.

I had a pen in my hand. Pacing about my office. Water jiggling on my tummy. I keep a hot water bottle inside my gown. I sounded like a bowl of jelly when I move.d But I could not find my notepad!

I was trying to write down all the things the country could have done with the R1.5 trillion it lost through corruption between 2014 and 2019. This is according to Unite 4 Mzansi's first case study titled State Capture 101. Unite 4 Mzansi is an initiative led by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and business leaders. They commissioned the Stellenbosch University's Centre for Complex Systems in Transition to analyse how deep corruption ran in the country.

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The R1.5 trillion could have patched some of the old infrastructure underground. The water mains and the electricity cables too.

When I spoke to Oom, I thought a few days ago they bought new couches. But he and his family were taking their furniture out to dry.

Their house had flooded when a pipe burst and left the neighbourhood without water for two days.

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We must be so fortunate that there are schools with pit toilets and no running water. Villages and townships are thirsty. Nelson Mandela Bay is headed for a dry July as dam levels reach record lows.

We could do with R1.5 trillion right now.

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