Ours is a sui­ci­dal econ­omy

W e have seen time and again that it’s not of­ten that the coun­try’s fis­cal is de­pleted but rather our spend­ing or choice of spend­ing is skewed. Again, it makes you won­der if gov­ern­ment ever learns from its pre­vi­ous mis­takes. We can­not keep re­peat­ing the s

Sunday Observer - - FEATURES - BY KEN­NETH DLAMINI

The coun­try is be­sieged by nag­ging crises ev­ery­where at the mo­ment, with gov­ern­ment main­tain­ing its tough stance that it does not have money.

It’s clearly not a good sign for gov­ern­ment and the coun­try in gen­eral. Things seem to boil out of con­trol ev­ery­day with the cur­rent fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

You shud­der to think how things will pan out as the cri­sis looks to de­gen­er­ate into chaos.

Al­ready chaos has been un­fold­ing with the sit­u­a­tion re­gard­ing our in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing be­ing ground to a halt by per­sis­tent strikes.

It seems a con­ta­gious thing as th­ese strikes have taken the coun­try by storm at the mo­ment.

Al­ready th­ese come on the back­drop of a sim­mer­ing dis­con­tent among civil ser­vants.

This comes as a re­sult of un­pro­duc­tive salary ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the unions and gov­ern­ment. I say un­pro­duc­tive be­cause all point­ers are that the talks are headed for noth­ing but a DEAD­LOCK. With the pace and man­ner things have been go­ing it seems its only a matter of time be­fore a dead­lock is de­clared.

As soon as that hap­pens you know what will be com­ing as al­ready demon­strated by the teach­ers who de­cided to ac­com­pany their lead­ers to the talks.

I’m not a prophet of doom nor do I as­pire to be one, but it’s a no- brainer what will be­come of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion at the rate things are go­ing.

I can al­most fore­see a long drawn out bat­tle be­tween gov­ern­ment and the unions, which un­for­tu­nately won’t end in a good way.

It makes you won­der then what gov­ern­ment is do­ing to avert the loom­ing cri­sis.

The is­sue of the ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis is a se­ri­ous one, yet to me that looks avoid­able.

But no, in­stead it has caused nearly all the in­sti­tu­tions to tem­po­rar­ily shut down amid the per­se­ver­ing fi­nan­cial cri­sis re­gard­ing stu­dents’ per­sonal and book al­lowances.

It has even looked fash­ion­able as stu­dents from nearly all the in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing took to the streets in protest over their de­layed al­lowances.

The sit­u­a­tion is nau­se­at­ing to say the least. But again, you ask your­self, how the stu­dents are ex­pected to learn on empty stom­achs.

Like­wise, it’s not like the teach­ers, nurses and civil ser­vants pre­fer to be on the streets than do­ing the jobs they were hired for. But how are they ex­pected to per­form on empty stom­achs. It’s a fact that the cost of liv­ing is soar­ing high ev­ery­day. For in­stance, just the other day gov­ern­ment an­nounced a fuel price hike of 30 cents.

This is not to men­tion the price of es­sen­tials in shops which sky-rock­ets with each pass­ing day. Thus, it is not ask­ing too much of a rea­son­able em­ployer to of­fer at least a cost of liv­ing ad­just­ment. That is what the civil ser­vants are de­mand­ing from gov­ern­ment. With the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, hardly a day passes with­out a strike or public protest re­gard­ing gov­ern­ment’s well-doc­u­mented fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

And in all of this chaos, it makes you won­der if gov­ern­ment re­ally doesn’t have the money or it’s a case of hav­ing our priorities twisted.

We have seen time and again that it’s not of­ten that the coun­try’s fis­cal is de­pleted but rather our spend­ing or choice of spend­ing is skewed.

Again, it makes you won­der if gov­ern­ment ever learns from its pre­vi­ous mis­takes.

We can­not keep re­peat­ing the same mis­takes with the same con­se­quences over and over again. Oth­er­wise, it only proves how daft or stub­born we are.

As things threaten to spi­ral out of con­trol, gov­ern­ment has re­mained re­silient in one voice, say­ing it doesn’t have the money to give to the work­ers. We should not lose sight of the fact that when gov­ern­ment does not have money it af­fects gen­er­ally ev­ery­one in the coun­try.

It ba­si­cally means the ‘ten­der­preneurs’ will not get paid for their sup­plies and with the African tax sit­u­a­tion that spells doom for not just one fam­ily but fam­i­lies.

In short, it spells dis­as­ter for many mouths that de­pend on one ten­der­preneur for their liveli­hood.

Not only that, a gov­ern­ment with­out money means the sup­pli­ers will not get paid. If they are not paid it also means they won’t pay their own sup­pli­ers and to an ex­tent even their own em­ploy­ees.

The chain goes on and on. In a good anal­y­sis, this can only mean a tragedy for the econ­omy for the sim­ple rea­son that it is de­pen­dent on gov­ern­ment. Ask the econ­o­mists, they would tell you that’s a very dan­ger­ous thing to do for any coun­try. Es­pe­cially if the gov­ern­ment is also de­pen­dent on the South­ern African Cus­toms Union (SACU) re­ceipts, which get de­pleted from time to time. If gov­ern­ment coughs ev­ery­one catches the cold. Just like it is the case at the mo­ment. I have heard of sit­u­a­tions whereby some com­pa­nies are re­trench­ing or have re­trenched. And they are not the last.

Not only that, but if gov­ern­ment is broke it also means peo­ple can’t have money to afford for lux­u­ries. Once that hap­pens you tend to spend on only the ba­sics.

With­out the ex­tra money to spend it vir­tu­ally means no job for all the peo­ple de­pen­dent on your ex­tra in­come, in­clud­ing salon busi­nesses, ven­dors and many oth­ers.

As soon as that hap­pens it opens up chances for peo­ple to think of other means of rais­ing money. Hence is­sues of crime and to an ex­tent pros­ti­tu­tion rise up. That’s the sad re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, un­for­tu­nately.

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