Is VIP safety more vi­tal than crime-fight­ing?

CityPress - - Voices -

In a week in which Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene sent a strong mes­sage about belt­tight­en­ing, it is out­ra­geous that funds that are sorely needed for de­tec­tive work are be­ing re­al­lo­cated to the po­lice’s VIP pro­tec­tion units.

This week, City Press re­ports how a whop­ping R30 mil­lion was given to the VIP unit in the bud­get adjustment. An in­cred­i­ble 5 374 of­fi­cers are now ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing the pres­i­dent, deputy pres­i­dents and other dig­ni­taries. Th­ese in­clude 74 na­tional, 126 provin­cial and 81 for­eign dig­ni­taries, as well as 42 gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tions and 90 VIP res­i­dences.

There are now more than triple the num­ber of VIP guards pro­tect­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, his Cab­i­net, provin­cial MECs, other iden­ti­fied VIPs, se­cur­ing homes and gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tions than there are sol­diers guard­ing South Africa’s bor­ders.

Nene this week flashed the red light and warned of tough eco­nomic times ahead. He also warned of cuts and aus­ter­ity mea­sures.

Cut­ting cater­ing bud­gets, ad­ver­tis­ing spend and travel costs is com­mend­able. It is brave and will earn Nene en­e­mies among civil ser­vants and nar­cis­sis­tic politi­cians who love to throw fancy par­ties and see their pic­tures in the me­dia.

But he needs to taker the big­ger step of telling his boss and col­leagues that tough times call for tougher mea­sures.

Firstly, Zuma has yet to jus­tify why Cab­i­net needed to ex­pand when all the signs were there that the fis­cus was un­der enor­mous pres­sure.

This ex­panded Cab­i­net came with an added army of new deputy min­is­ters who are also en­ti­tled to their own se­cu­rity.

Se­condly, we have to ask whether all th­ese min­is­ters need this se­cu­rity. Is a real risk as­sess­ment un­der­taken or are min­is­ters all en­ti­tled to pro­tec­tion purely be­cause of their rank? Does the min­is­ter of arts and cul­ture or the min­is­ter for women need all th­ese body­guards?

What is disturbing is that the money is be­ing di­verted from real needs, such as de­tec­tive ser­vices, to an ego-stroking ex­er­cise.

Gov­ern­ment must lead by ex­am­ple as the coun­try con­fronts this pro­longed eco­nomic cri­sis.

Cut the fat where it re­ally hurts – the ego.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.