Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Terry Crawford-Browne

Being Conned



Business Day

Date 2003-09-15


Terry Crawford-Browne

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The defence department blew its budget on warships the SA Navy can't use, and on warplanes the SA Air Force doesn't want.

The health minister declares there is no money for AIDS because SA must buy submarines to protect the country from invasion by the US. The South African National Defence Force reveals in Parliament that thanks to costs of the arms deal it is financially paralysed, and cannot afford to maintain existing equipment let alone undertake peacekeeping operations in Africa.

Despite such fiascos, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota proposes a R2bn defence budget increase. His minions have told him that 2% of gross domestic product for defencespending is the internationally accepted norm.

In fact, that much-cited 2% stems from warnings by the World Bank that the economic wheels are likely to fall off when it is exceeded.

That certainly proved to be the case in apartheid SA, as it has in Africa's basket-case economies.

The 2% figure was never intended as a licence to pour public money down a drain.

South Africans were conned by the apartheid-era militarists into funding the "total response to the total onslaught".

We were conned again by the absurdity that R30bn spent on the arms deal would magically generate R110bn in offsets to create 64165 jobs.

Not satisfied with the arms deal scandal, the boys want new toys! Let's not be conned a third time.

With acknowledgements to Terry Crawford-Browne and the Business Day.