Am I just a curmudgeonly cynic or do I have a point here?
I lived in Southern Africa for 67 years. I lived, and paid taxes in, South Africa from 1980 to 2016 and I drafted this as a letter to the press several years ago. Life intervened but this remains relevant.
I think it points up something that is fundamentally wrong with the practice of GIVING AID. People who do not help themselves and don’t do the work that they are entrusted with but are helped at every turn by AID will never have an incentive to DO those things that they are contracted to do. As long as the aid is given the VICTIM culture will prevail, the sense of entitlement. Coupled with ineptitude…anyway for what it is worth here are my thoughts from a few years ago…
At the time this was happening…(and had happened before).
MNet / DSTV are once again promoting a Carte Blanche (https://carteblanche.dstv.com/) initiative in respect of the Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape.
The initiative has called upon corporates and individuals to donate funds to build / rebuild the children’s and neo-natal wing of the hospital.
By all accounts an incredibly successful project, it will provide truly state of the art facilities in this impoverished area.
While the generosity has been great let us not forget that every penny given over to corporate responsibility and charitable causes can be offset against tax. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself and the corporates get some nice publicity.
Most importantly, and without wishing to detract from its success, I feel that these initiatives point up the absolute failure of the post-apartheid government to properly manage funds and maintain and build infrastructure.
It is NOT the job of private enterprise to build, hand over and maintain facilities for the government. It is why we – individuals and corporates – pay taxes to the government, which government seems to think the money is solely to fund extravagance.
It is accepted that previously disadvantaged areas often did not have quite the same facilities as the more privileged areas. Of course Baragwanath Hospital (the largest in the southern hemisphere) for example, was (note the past tense) a world class hospital and known in the international medical world – and that is in Soweto – the vast township area outside the greater Johannesburg city.
What the new government failed to recognise is that they inherited all these top class facilities that could be used as the model, as the standard to which they should aspire.
Had the existing facilities (and one should include EVERYTHING infrastructural here, not only medical facilities) not been neglected and allowed to deteriorate – no, been dragged – down to the lowest, most base, level then there would be no need to beg private enterprise to do what the government should have done and should be doing on an ongoing basis.
Private enterprise on the other hand could have used all that money to build itself up and create jobs and opportunities. Of course that presupposes that the business world would not have been hamstrung, as it has been by the current administration, by poor decision making, punitive regulations and laws and the entire gamut of negative, oppressive and ignorant government departments each seeming to be trying to outdo the other on measures to drive away and discourage investment and small business initiatives.
With apologies to those grammar Nazis who may pick up errors of tense – I felt if I changed it too much I would lose the immediacy of the time at which I first drafted it.