SPCA and FNB keep Cabinet busy
ESSOP PAHAD, SPEAKING at the farewell banquet of a major multinational’s local managing director, said that everyone came out of the recent Cabinet lekgotla “very optimistic about the year ahead”. The minister in the office of the presidency also said everyone was going to be “very busy”, though no one would be working harder this year than public works minister, Thoko Didiza, who was also at the event.
It was a beautiful Jo’burg evening; the year was still young and in the stunning surroundings of Summer Place it was easy to get caught up with the minister’s rosy outlook. What a difference a fortnight makes. The ministers are being kept busy. By the SPCA and FNB. The animal lovers managed to steal the spotlight from Toni Yengeni and his followers’ real transgressions (subverting the rule of law and equality, among many) by again showing how out of tune they are with humans. As if Yengeni didn’t get a free (or more correctly, discounted) ride before, his elevation to defender of cultural tradition will simply entrench his popularity among the political elite, the extent of which I’ve always found baffling.
After arts and culture, the minister of labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, entered the discussion with his invitation to the animal people to his own bull ceremony. It’s ritual animal sacrifice, and not 25%-40% unemployment, that stirs this important but perpetually torpid department.
Perhaps I should give Mdladlana a break. At least he believes that crime being out of control is not just “a perception” like his boss does. After attending what presumably was the same lekgotla as Pahad had, the minister said: “The worrying trend whereby our youths are involved in the current spate of armed robberies and other related violent crimes that are ravaging our country could be reversed once they join the army.”
Hmm… bring back national service, what a great idea. Then I realised giving youths two years of training in weapons and attack tactics and then letting them join civilian life may just have the opposite effect, especially given the joblessness rate. Desperation can muddle your thinking – the suggestion of bringing in the army to guard cash in transit vehicles and patrol the streets also found much support.
But any proposal, no matter how hare-brained, is preferable to denial and inaction. FNB’s letter writing idea wasn’t clever, but when you feel abandoned by your government, anyone powerful speaking up at least offers some comfort. Stopping FNB’s campaign saw
But any proposal, no matter how hare-brained, is preferable to denial and
safety and security, justice, correctional services and big business work together in a way that the underlying crisis has never done.
Just about the only success the banks working with Government can show is the decrease in cash heists and bank robberies. The bitter irony is that it’s a result of the hardening of these targets that gangs are now going after people in their homes, in restaurants, in churches and mosques, in shopping centres and in parks.
The bank’s about-turn after being ratted on and leaned on by its peers, means that ordinary citizens now have a choice between cowards, bullies, donothings and deniers on crime fighting. I’m afraid few people on the street (those who dare walk them) share the ministers’ optimism and the public works most would like to see are prisons, courthouses and police stations.