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The #SONA2016 forgotten – Jobless, kids, sick and business (outside Guptas)

15 February 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Matthew Lester
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Author: Matthew Lester (Biznews)

As the haze of President Jacob Zuma’s ninth State of the Nation lifts, Matthew Lester struggles to find anything of importance from the event. He says all in all he would have been better served watching a small town play, as he’d have been able to hold a bottle of gin and repeat to himself – he who expecteth nothing is never disappointed. It’s a piece written in typical humorist Lester style but touches on the sensitive issues that really matter. A great read. – Stuart Lowman

Okay, so perhaps I was the fool for expecting that just something would come of SONA 2016. Nothing much ever comes of these occasions. And JZ had kicked for touch on everything controversial a long time before he even took his bus to Parliament.

3 years ago Max Du Preez wrote that we must welcome Julius Malema and his comrades into Parliament. And he was right. At least someone has the balls to challenge the honourable speaker’s attempts to bully everyone into submission. She clearly cannot cope. It was the best part of the show, right up to the point that the EFF got kicked out.

Getting kicked out of Parliament creates a powerful image. The problem is that they are gone from Parliament for the next 5 days. Perhaps the EFF should have insisted that they were chucked out one by one, leaving a small handful to carry on the debate on 15 February.

In the haze that is this morning’s hangover I am trying to remember anything else worthy of comment.

Oh yes, the president wants the legislative and the administrative capitals merged into one. So owners of the boutique hotels on Cape Town must be a worried lot this morning. Perhaps the one-and-lonely will become an extension of the Waterfront aquarium.

Just imagine how much fuel can be saved by not flogging ZS-RSA from Waterkloof airbase to Cape Town. And the business class sections of aircraft will have to be scaled down to carry only executives and trade union officials.

The processes involved in closing down Cape Town as the legislative capital would take many years to accomplish. The announcement is probably not much more than a sideshow to detract from the major issues such as Nkandla, Nenegate and #feesmustfall.

The beginning of the end of Pravin Gordhan’s first term of office as minister of finance came when he tried to impose measures to contain the excessive expenditure of cabinet ministers and state officials. (Medium Term Budget Framework speech 2013). His compatriots hated that proposal and white anted him out 6 months later. Now, 3 years later, wasteful expenditure becomes a big moment in SONA. Perhaps it shows some progress, but it is very slow.

All in I was probably better off watching SONA than attending the Port Alfred High School production of My Fair Lady. But only because I had a bottle of gin in hand and kept repeating to myself ‘Matthew, he who expecteth nothing is never disappointed.’

The problem is so many are expecting so much more. And time has run out!

Ask the question ‘was there anything in SONA 2016 that provided a glimmer of hope for the unemployed, the children, the sick, the students, the elderly or even big business (other than the Guptas)?’ The answer must be NO!  That about sums it up.

So, as predicted, we now have to wait for 24 February to see if finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, can miraculously breath some life into the SA’s ailing economy. It’s a big ask. But Pravin Gordhan is the only SA leader who has that sort of wisdom and ability.

  • Rhodes University Professor Matthew Lester was educated at St Johns College, Wits and Rhodes universities. He is a chartered accountant who has worked at Deloitte, SARS and BDO Spencer Steward. A member of the Davis Tax Committee investigating the structure of aspects of the RSA tax system, he is based in Grahamstown.

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