Stop fueling around. Just vote the ANC out

Ideas

Stop fueling around. Just vote the ANC out

Never mind the petrol hike - you can do something about the broken, bankrupted Road Accident Fund

Columnist

There’s a picture that does the rounds on social media every few weeks, showing 15 lanes of gridlock, with hundreds of cars going nowhere. Basically, it’s Cape Town when it starts to drizzle.
Under this startling image is a caption: “In Germany the government has increased fuel price [sic]. In just one hour of time [sic] people abandoned their cars on the streets and avenues and walked home. Over a million abandoned cars. They had to lower the price. When the people are smart the corrupt can’t accomplish their goals.”
Every time the petrol price is about to rise in South Africa, that picture is everywhere, usually accompanied by enthusiastically revolutionary comments. Yes! We should do this too! If it worked for the Germans it can work for us!
Unfortunately, it didn’t work for the Germans. The photograph was in fact taken about 10 years ago, in China, and showed an immense traffic jam, not a protest. There is also no evidence that a mass car-stranding ever happened in Germany.
Still, an overtaxed South African can dream; and so that picture gets more airtime than Julius Malema and AfriForum combined.I understand the desire to scream, but of course I don’t blame the government when the petrol price rises. The state has no control over the oil price and, barring the sort of wilful demolitions performed by Jacob Zuma, very little over the dollar-rand exchange rate.
As much as we like to pretend that we are masters of our own economic fate, we are, alas, a flea on a dog waiting at the door for his boss to return from the mailroom where he works, and will be wagged this way and that.
What I mind, however, is that when I spend my R15.43 on a litre of petrol, over 12% of that is being flushed down a vast gurgling hole called the Road Accident Fund, or RAF.
In 1940, Winston Churchill praised an altogether different RAF, saying: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
As for our RAF, well, let’s just say that seldom in the field of human taxation was so much owed by so few to so many.
As reported by the Sunday Times on the weekend, the RAF helped itself to R33-billion last year. It is also bankrupt. Go figure.Still, not being able to pay for stuff has never stopped anyone in this country from buying more stuff. And why would it, when they never use their own money? Why pause for even a moment when you can just help yourself to more taxes?
Hence the revelation on Sunday that a bankrupt agency is currently renting 300 office chairs for R500,000 a month.
I must admit that when I first heard that figure I assumed it was wrong. R1,666 per month for an office chair? For this government? Hell no. This lot spends 10 times that much in a day, hiring ex-wives to hire their sons to hire their best friends to hire their cousins to supply the chairs at a 1,000% mark-up, before parking said chairs in a warehouse and hiring former lovers to hire current lovers to issue denials about ever hiring the chairs or abandoning them in a warehouse.
But then I read on, and saw that their first plan was to blow R60-million of our money to rent furniture for five years. Yes, I thought. That’s much more like it: R12-million a year for some tables and chairs is the government I know.The Road Accident Fund is, in principle, a good idea. South African roads are some of the most dangerous on the planet. We are astonishingly incompetent and aggressive drivers. There is no meaningful policing of what, where or how we drive. We are also completely okay with this.
South Africans march and emigrate and threaten civil war and tax revolts because 19,000 of us are murdered every year, but kill 14,000 of us on the roads in that same year and we will simply shrug sadly and start making plans to buy an SUV so at least it will be the other guy who ends up dead in the head-on smash.
Given this surreal homicide-suicide pact we have made with driving in this country, it makes sense for us to have a national insurance scheme that pays out the inevitable victims of this wholesale slaughter.
Unfortunately, the ANC hasn’t yet found a good idea it can’t bludgeon into a coma. Which is how the RAF has rolled to a shuddering halt in its current cul-de-sac: a broken, bankrupted wretch still weakly sucking on the taxpayer’s teat but too dysfunctional to turn any of that vast wealth into an actual system; visited almost daily by vampiric lawyers who gorge on those billions and then wipe their mouths and say: “Don’t blame me, it’s the law.”This week, as petrol becomes more expensive than it has ever been, there will be renewed calls for tax boycotts. Facebook will be awash with that German-Chinese photo. Various angry, radical solutions will be presented and demanded.
But the maths is very, very simple.
If you keep voting for thieves, you’ll keep getting robbed.
The good news is that there’s an election coming. So don’t park your car. Don’t blockage petrol stations.
Just vote.

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