VIPuhleeze! If your land is grabbed, blame the ANC

Ideas

VIPuhleeze! If your land is grabbed, blame the ANC

For the ANC private investment club, bodyguards are just as important as land reform to SA's future

Columnist

On Wednesday, the magnificent fact checkers and reality auditors at AfricaCheck confirmed a staggering statistic: the South African government spends as much on protecting its senior bigwigs as it spends on land reform.
The claim, first made by the DA’s head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, seems, at first glance, a shocking one: according to Treasury figures, the government’s 2018/19 budget for VIP protection is R2.9-billion, while it has set aside just R2.7-billion for land reform.
The AfricaCheck report did point out that a further R3.4-billion is budgeted for “restitution” under the rural development and land reform budget, which is technically part of the land reform push. But the fact remains that, according to the state’s own accounting categories, the blue-light boys get more than the people trying to figure out how to unravel a 400-year-old mess.This seems alarming for obvious reasons. Land reform is not just a bauble to dangle in front of the electorate ahead of next year’s poll. It is a process that will define the future of this country.
Done properly, it will, for a while, open a window through which South Africa might grasp a more equal, just and prosperous era. Done badly, or not at all, it will guarantee decades of rancour, bitterness and, quite possibly, war.
Given its obvious and immediate importance to the country, you might have thought it would warrant a few tens of billions. But allocating it just R2.7-billion (or R6.1-billion if you include restitution) isn’t just a reflection of a lack of political will: it is an unconditional surrender of the land debate to the EFF.
All of which is why I understand the impulse to be outraged by Ngwenya’s figures. They seem, simply, outrageous.
Until, that is, one remembers an important fact, being blurred in the glow of Ramaphoria: that the ANC, for at least the past 10 years, has been nothing but a private investment club dedicated solely to the enrichment and protection of a few hundred senior club members. And private investment clubs have as much interest in the wellbeing of rural poor people as the French royalty did for the peasants in 1788.Indeed, once you remember the orgy of greed that was the Zuma era, its cacophony of squealing and grunting still echoing in some of the courts of this country, you realise that there is a certain logic to Ngwenya’s figures.
In fact, I can easily imagine that to the Capturati they make profound fiscal sense. After all, land reform is an investment in the country’s future. Politicians are the country. Bodyguards are an investment in politicians’ future. Therefore bodyguards are an investment in the country’s future. Which means it makes perfect sense for land reform and VIP units to get exactly the same amount of money, right?
Easy peasy.
PS: This week it emerged that Mmusi Maimane’s “mini-Mandela” statement was not quoted in full when it first appeared in local media, a bad error that radically altered its meaning. I read that “full” quote in three separate publications before I referred to it myself as fact in a column. As we move into election season, accurate reporting is more important than ever, and we are reminded that organisations like AfricaCheck are democratic institutions. Please consider donating to them by visiting their website at www.africacheck.org.

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