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EDITORIAL | SA knows it has hit rock bottom and it shows

Ideas

EDITORIAL | SA knows it has hit rock bottom and it shows

It remains to be seen if politicians understand why the finance minister refused to let government handle relief funds

Editorial

This past weekend the Sunday Times (https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/news/2022-04-17-moves-to-prevent-corruption-free-for-all-as-kzn-picks-up-the-pieces-after-catastrophic-floods/) led with a story on the government considering involving an independent agency to manage flood disaster relief funds to “account for every cent”. This was our own finance minister Enoch Godongwana saying it would be a way of insulating the funds from corruption. On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that “corruption hyenas” eyeing the billions of rand in public money allocated to rebuild KwaZulu-Natal will not see a cent. The independently administered Solidarity Fund has since agreed to manage the funds.

A state has hit rock bottom when it arrives at a point where its finance minister agrees that funds meant to help people in need should not be managed by the government because the risk of corruption is too high. As bad as this sounds, it is almost a good thing. Trust levels are at an all-time low, which means dodgy officials are being watched like hawks.

One would think this would serve as a warning to politicians to be extra sensitive to serving the needs of the public instead of serving their own greedy selves. Yet the tone deafness of some public representatives boggles the mind. KZN premier Sihle Zikalala is an example. He has now at last apologised for ordering his own personal water tanker to his home but only after offering reams and reams of excuses. “There was a problem with water in the area and the community asked that we help. I wasn’t at home at the time, I was in Newcastle. I then called for a water tanker, which came to the area and provided water to the people. Then it provided water at my home,” he told SAfm. “I was engaged by members of the La Mercy residents’ association and issued an apology that the water tanker went [to my] home and committed that it would never happen again.” Next time, he said, he would have the water tanker parked at the community hall...

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