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27 September 2001
The 20-80 Principle - S.A. style

People who's been around for some time and have a fair idea of how things work would've heard (if not understand) the 20-80 principle. Well, maybe not quite the ratio of 20 to 80, but in South Africa it's more the 10 to 90 ratio.
This is where 20 percent of the population is supporting the other 80 percent. And this sucks! Have a look at the following and see if you agree:

In South Africa we have 18.2 million registered voters. Well that was the figure. Of these, only 1.6 million actually pay taxes. Frightening isn't it? That's a ratio of 11:1. In the UK the ratio is roughly 1.6 voters to each taxpayer and in the USA about 2:1.
Of course there are those taxpayers who choose not to vote, though they are far outnumbered by non taxpayers who don't vote. In 1990 just over 61 million Americans voted while 114 million who paid taxes actually qualified to vote.

65% of income taxes in South Africa was derived from less than 400 000 people. This is according to the 1997-8 statistics report presented by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. This is less than 1% of the population! These direct taxes on individuals make up almost 60% of our national tax revenues.
Consider now that some of these (if not most) will or have emigrated, some retired and even worse, some have doubts in starting new ventures which has an adverse effect on the country's fiscal status.

So aptly named "the goose that lays the golden eggs" is a saying that is way above the understanding of our government (must be because it's a white saying). Government is sucking this money basket dry quicker than what it can be replenished. Local government is a prime example with fancy cars and fancier houses. Lifestyles of the rich and famous with government departments consisting primarily of family members, all earning top salaries with no or very little qualifications. A government that wants to see 75% black teachers in all schools, a totally black government and government departments, with Cuban doctors (dunno why, maybe they're cheap labour) and a private sector with very little white in top management.

A typical example of the stupidity in central government was the restructuring of local councils. Here the word MEGA got them all on heat. MEGA-cities, MEGA-councils, MEGA-bucks. The South African Local Government Association discovered (which we knew for a long time) that mayors and speakers (two totally separate functions in each municipal structure) have been fighting over total control to such an extent that service delivery in most towns have suffered quite badly. 
Now here's the joke - The ANC failed to clearly specify each positions' role in this new structure! How sad can you get! How totally ridiculous!
The law introduced the role of "speaker" in local government which is based on the exact  position as is practised in parlaiment. The big fight came in with a power struggle on who runs council meetings with some mayors thinking they're above the municipality.
With all this going on, of course a meeting had to be held (won't even try and estimate the cost to the local taxpayer) for 600 mayors and speakers to explain how things work in parlaiment and that it should work the same at local government level.

After all that was said and done, it's sad to know that what was said was probably not understood!

Back to the golden goose - one ratepayer from Durban had the misfortune of having his rates hiked in one year, from R4 500.00 to R18 435.00! No wonder the mayor drives a 450 grand car and his undespencible PR consultants are earning 112 grand a month. This man, for obvious reasons is now emigrating. One golden egg less. Stephen Mulholland hits it on the nail when saying "Government owns nothing which does not come from the people", and "The system which provides the greatest good for the greatest number has repeatedly been shown to be that in which individuals rather tha the state have the greatest say in the disposal of their earnings".

Now, if King Goodwill Zwelithini would just forget about the 3.7 million Rand house that he bid on and lost because the deposit wasn't paid in time, he might realise that the 15 million Rand budget he gets from government annually can actually go a lot further for the good of his people.

The above statistical tax information was published in the Sunday Times (23 Sep 2001) by Stephen Mulholland in his weekly column "Another Voice".