|Back to our 'normal self' again.
I've been amazed and close on outraged at a news report on SABC TV the other
night. A black journalist was standing in a township reporting on the terrible
conditions the people were living under. More specific, broken toilets and
sewerage running freely all over the place. With animals feeding off grass
(which flourishes in this mess) and kids playing in this mess, it's no wonder
the reporter was upset.
My toilet breaks, my sewerage pipes get blocked up or heaven forbid, it konks in totally what are my responsibilities? Fix it. Dammit, it's my house, it's my neighborhood. This is where I live. If I choose however to live with the mess, it's my business. Not for our 'hands outstreched' friends though. The council is responsible, the council must go from house to house to fix these problems, the council must come and clean up the mess. And the clinics must now pay for whatever diseases these kids contract. And we all know where the council and the clinics (the FREE clinics) get their money from - the tax-paying citizen. Another sad story this past week has been the eviction of 63 families.
The true problem of the above stories are such - these people are are living in RDP house (Reconstruction & Development Project). Contracts were given to unscrupulous building contractors and of course, their (tender board) own relations, friends and families. These houses are sub standard. They cost in the region of about 80 thousand Rands and normally consists of two bedrooms, bathroom, lounge and kitchen. Under the governments program, these houses are allocated as per a waiting list (as far as I understand). What they don't ascertain though, is wether these people that get the houses have an actual income in order to pay for the upkeep and maintenance. All the problems started with the ANC promising millions of people houses. With the normal corruption and no control this is the situation we sit with.
It is sad but in respect of the people not having a place to stay anymore. It is not sad though that councils are now insisting on payment for services and housing. Most of these people claim that they cannot afford the housing. What will happen to you if you can't afford where you are staying. You move. Where to? Who knows and who really cares (except maybe for family and friends), but you move. You certainly don't want to come home finding all your possessions out on the street. And as with so many cases before, these people put up a fight. Burning tyres, throwing petrol bombs at police and getting close to outright violence with the sheriff's men.
All this points to what I've said so many times before. It is becoming harder and harder to make a half-decent living here. With government bragging about the billions of Rands they collect now in taxes compared to the pre 1994 era, one can't help to wonder what is happening with all this money. Our once proud armed forces are standing still. No fuel, no bullets, no spares. That is still nothing compared to the situation our police force is in. No cars, no fuel, little bullets, no spares, little pay, no men. What makes this more worrying is the fact that these are the people who're supposed to be in a position to protect us. All of us!
Very sad story about a British couple on holiday in the Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga). A robber shot and killed Diane Conway and seriously wounded her husband in an attempted robbery. The last time foreign tourists were victims of serious crime was a long long time ago. Then again, it happens more often to the locals (makes sense, we're here all the time). Information is not a good thing. With the exchange rate being televised every evening on telly, the criminals want Pounds. They probably won't know what to really do with it when they get it, but that won't stop them!
The new 'domestic workers bill' is coming into effect next month. Minimum wage is the buzzword here. And the ANC government made sure that there is no way around it. We've been fortunate in this country as far as domestic help is concerned. Some domestics are earning a good wage with others earning downright nothing! With this new bill in place I can see a lot of people loosing their only income though. I have a domestic servant (servant somehow does not sound politically correct, does it?) who lives on my property. She has a fair sized room with the absolutely necessary facilities. Sure I'd like to make things more comfy for her, if it's justifiable. For two days in a week and three irons every six months, I simply can't afford it. Now I'll have to give her a raise. With the new laws protecting squatters one must be very carefull. I will have to charge her rent (which obviously is deducted off her wages) in order to make up the deficit in her minimum wage and at the same time to protect myself with the squatter law peeping around the corner. We all have our problems, don't we?
Now for some real facts: Our fuel at this stage cost R4.21 a liter, and these are some of the reasons why -
Our own fuel (Sasol) is about 54% of the current price. The rest is made up of various taxes and distribution costs. Sasol though is getting paid the going rate (which at this stage is $28 a barrel). Oil companies are guaranteed a fixed margin with the industry making R781-million (profit) in 1999. Taxes make up R1.20 out of every liter of fuel with Sasol only receiving state subsidies if (and when) the price drops below $16 - which hasn't happened for a long time. Sasol produces fuel from coal (which was a world first) and Mossgas from natural gas.
If government had to deregulate the industry we would see much more competition and a lot of job cuts. The forecourt attendants won't be no more, and everyone will have to do their own checking (water, oil, tyres, etc.). So what will change? Numerous fuel stations out there can't be bothered with service, yet they know that it must influence their bottom line. Then again, this is Africa. Who really cares?
Maybe it's time for the unions to get their act together. With relationships souring between COSATU and the ANC, we need just one whispered word into the right ear. The trade unions are powerful weapons against the corrupt out there. I don't normally have much good to say about them and especially their masters, but the time will be upon us soon to join hands and fight for our rights and our lives. Won't that be a show of unity!
Note that all views expressed here are personal. Information sourced from various freely available material. Copyright where applicable.
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