Give Me Your Votes - I Can Steal All the Extras On My Own!
Politicians just ask for it, don't they? I mean, take the palookas in the KZN legislature, for example. Running up cell phone bills, trashing Mercs and inflating their own pay cheques. All these shenanigans might be amusing if they were perpetrated by lowly backbenchers, but, oh no! Here in the kingdom we do it in style.
Revelations about the Leader of the House and his gang make a mockery of the rule they have in parliament, the one that insists that each member is addressed as "honourable". The province has 80 MPs, some of whom I know and whose work is admirable. In truth, though, those people number no more than 20. The rest are freeloaders, an absolute drain on taxpayers.
Our electoral system needs a serious review. These pillars of society each cost us around R30 000 a month. If 60 are useless, as I suggest, that's a waste of R1.8 million a month, just on salaries. That doesn't include the cost of the administration that supports these clowns, or the cost of providing housing for them when they visit the bustling metropolis of Ulundi.
I beg you, remember this folly come election time. Let's not forget the gems we have in council either. Durban has its dimwits, but the city being what it is, they can't crawl under rocks and hide too easily. It's the poor folk in little outback dorps that I pity. There they pay traffic cops R400 000 a year and call them "municipal managers" - these are the okes who run the fiefdoms of mayors who rule by whim. I reckon if I started a political party promising simply to lampoon other politicians I'd get a sizeable chunk of the vote. They all set themselves up so beautifully. Someone told me this week about the one politician in Durban he still had an inkling of respect for - the guy who didn't go to Vivian Reddy's multimillion-rand bash at the ICC earlier this year.
Now that was an ostentatious carry-on if ever there was one. My informer attended the lavish party and said he recoiled in disgust when, at one point in the evening, Reddy called up all the top politicians to the stage to pose for a photograph - with him in the middle, of course.
"There they were, lining up like little schoolboys - and these are our leaders. It was beyond embarrassing," said my informer.
I have no doubt Reddy can count some of these politicos as his true mates, but it rankles a bit when you think the same mates have influence over government contracts. And, let's face it, few businessmen on the block make their money independent of big state-related deals, so lets not kid ourselves about heartfelt friendships.
I remember meeting old Slim Shady Shaik in his office on the Victoria Embankment a couple of years ago. I had gone there to quiz him about his involvement in Durban's Point deal (it all makes sense now, doesn't it!). While I sat there he kept on bragging about how he was Jacob Zuma's buddy and personal advisor. "Hold on my brudda, I'll get him (Zuma) on the line.'
JZ was obviously out to lunch because he didn't take that particular call, so for the rest of the interview Schabir just impressed me enormously by yakking in French to some guy on the other line.
Being in with the right crowd - it reminds me of a story I heard from an ANC member about a Durban family whose sons used to arrive at the party's HQ in Albert Park with briefcases full of money, for no other reason than to buy influence.
I think we should campaign to have the finances of all political parties audited and regularly made public; we should employ kick-ass private sector administrative managers in parliament to crack down on transgressions by our mighty law-makers (how's the irony in that?); and then we should invest heavily in the media to ensure we have a totally transparent society.
You should vote for me. I promise that in a year I'll let you hound me out of office because I'll definitely give my mates multibillion-rand contracts; put the odd dent in one of government's German sedans; take paid-for holidays in Disneyland; build myself a groovy house with donated cash; and generally have a whale of a time. I make that pledge.
With acknowledgements to Greg Ardé and The Mercury.