Sing with me: ‘Yeah I’m the tax­man…’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

THE WIDELY tele­vised mur­der of the South African na­tional an­them by Ras Du­misani led to po­lice sta­tions across the coun­try be­ing in­un­dated by re­ports of sim­i­lar songi­cides.

SAPS spokes­woman Roberta En­gels says that more than 183 cases have been opened na­tion­wide.

The cases vary, from a wed­ding singer’s bru­tal as­sault on Chris Brown’s For­ever to a third-de­gree songslaugh­ter re­ported in a Mu­sica store, where a cus­tomer wear­ing head­phones at the lis­ten­ing sta­tion didn’t re­alise he was singing along to Lady Gaga, to a full-scale geno­cide at the Lucky Star Karaoke Bar in Good­wood.

Sbu­siso Matha­bane, di­rec­tor of Peo­ple Against Mu­sic Abuse and lead gui­tarist in in­die rock band The Ca­siotones, says: “Songi­cide is a hor­ri­fy­ing crime that tends to get lost among all the rape and mur­der and hi­jack­ing statis­tics.”

But some be­lieve the re­ports are overblown. Julie Frankwright, a rights ad­vo­cate for Am­a­teur Shower Singers In­ter­na­tional, says: “Mu­sic has al­ways been mur­dered. Is any­one bring­ing Ce­line Dion to book? The In­sane Clown Posse? What about the guy who in­vented Au­totune? Idols? The en­tire jazz canon?”

Frankwright is fac­ing charges for slaugh­ter­ing the Bana­narama song­book in her home us­ing her SingS­tar karaoke video game.

En­gels says po­lice are tak­ing the re­ported songi­cides very se­ri­ously. South Africa’s tiny pool of tax­pay­ers, re­ferred to by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials as “those suck­ers”, has been warned that a tax boy­cott would se­ri­ously dis­rupt the state’s pol­icy of di­vert­ing vast amounts of money away from the poor and di­rectly into the bank ac­counts of un­ac­count­able cronies.

Just 5 mil­lion out of 48 mil­lion South Africans pay any form of tax, in re­turn for which the state guar­an­tees them spo­radic pas­siveag­gres­sive al­lu­sions to racism and the need for na­tion-build­ing through the pur­chase of lux­ury Ger­man sedans.

How­ever, many tax­pay­ers have be­gun to doubt the sus­tain­abil­ity of the present tax­a­tion sys­tem in which most tax goes through a process of re­dis­tri­bu­tion known by economists as “loot­ing”.

While most tax­pay­ers said they had no prob­lem with hand­ing over 40 per­cent of their in­come to en­sure hous­ing, wa­ter and elec­tric­ity for the poor, they had “some reser­va­tions” about 40 per­cent of their in­come be­ing spent on heated leather seats for min­is­ters’ BMWs, pay­ing po­lit­i­cally con­nected con­trac­tors to re­build RDP houses that fall down ev­ery five years be­cause they were built by po­lit­i­cally con­nected con­trac­tors, and the pur­chase of weapons that be­came ob­so­lete in 1998 and might only be use­ful if South Africa is ever in­vaded by Mau­ri­tius.

Economists, too, say they are not sure that the tax­a­tion sys­tem is work­able.

“In­sti­tu­tion­alised theft only works when you’re steal­ing from a lot of peo­ple and giv­ing the money to a few,” said econ­o­mist Marx Tsepeng. “Un­for­tu­nately our gov­ern­ment hasn’t un­der­stood that if you don’t broaden the base of peo­ple you’re steal­ing from, you soon run out of stuff to steal.”

He said he would try to ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion to the gov­ern­ment in terms it could un­der­stand, “like maybe a story-sum in which the cater­ers for an SACP-Cosatu con­fer­ence have only pro­vided 5 000 sausage rolls for the whole con­fer­ence, but the del­e­gates eat 4 000 of the sausage rolls dur­ing the first tea break and then don’t have any left for lunch”.

This week the gov­ern­ment warned tax­pay­ers not to even think about stag­ing a tax boy­cott.

“You voted for us,” said Trea­sury spokesman Cuff­links Mpahle. “Well, okay, most of you didn’t vote for us; but the peo­ple who spend your tax rands did, and that’s the im­por­tant part.”

● Th­ese ar­ti­cles first ap­peared on the satir­i­cal web­site Hay­

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