SPCA and FNB keep Cabi­net busy

Finweek English Edition - - Openers - BY FRIK ELS frike@fin­week.co.za

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.

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