OPINION: Difficult times for the poor

Phiri Cawe

Not too long ago when Tito Mboweni was fired as Finance Minister, we cried that he had to be retained. His worshippers telling us how his economic policies have worked for the country in extremely difficult fiscal circumstances. On the other side his haters saying he was a problem for the working class.

Phithithi the same working class was in favour of him. Sanity prevailed and another leader came to power. But with a cabinet known for recycling ministers, he was called back to his position.

I called him Mr Bitter/Sweet Budget. Every time he is presenting, whether his medium-term budget policy statement or budget, he always carries my number one enemy plant, the aloe. As a kid I was made to drink that nonsense before going to school and again back from school.

My other reason I feel Mr Mboweni has no touch with the masses, is that he has no clue that poor people are in no situation to tighten their bellies.

Minister that is why we have people with attitude, I mean bad attitudes. That is why taxi drivers drive on yellow lanes, not that I justify their misbehaving ways. These are people who wake up in the early hours of the morning for them to earn less than R500 a week. But they do that because they want to put something on the table. They are always in a rush, speeding for peanuts and to make a target. Let me repeat that does not justify their bad ways.

When the minister told us to tighten our belts, you have to ask yourself, tighten which belt?

We’ve been poor for as long as I remember. Many South Africans have no belts at all. The problem with people and leaders who do not know poverty is that they compare their living standards with ours.

Let’s look at what is happening in the country, commission after commission, giving us who the state coffer looters are. But what is our country or government doing? Nothing. We just waste money and give it to the already filthy rich. There’s bailout after bailout after bailout in our country.

Billions of rands have gone down the drain but no consequences. None whatsoever. We can’t afford the belt, we do not have money. It is a difficult time for the poor. Apartheid was not good to us and democracy is doing the same. What have poor people done to deserve such disrespect?

However, much as I am not happy with Mr Mboweni, I think his intentions are good for this country. But can’t he tell the corrupt politicians to stop it now. Years back we were made to believe no minister will drive those flashy cars that are above R1 million. But was that carried out? Are the ministers driving Toyota Yarises?

To solve the “belt problem” our government needs to start jailing the corruptors. We need to recoup all the monies they took. We have to start somewhere, even if we start at Nkandla, but there has to be a point of reference. The Zondo Commission has shone a light too. It is also encouraging to see that the minister promised R1 billion to the SA Revenue Service for the next two years to bolster efforts to combat corruption and improve revenue collection. Can’t we start now?

In his speech he has reiterated that ministers, their deputies, premiers and MECs will not be getting a salary increase “for the foreseeable future” because of a lack of funds. Dare we believe this?

He did not stop there but said political high-flyers’ wings would be clipped. They are banned from flying business class on domestic flights. I somehow doubt this will ever happen. Our political leaders were spoilt from the onset. Their heads are bigger than when they fought for liberation. They care less about ordinary people and only for their pockets and families.

My plea is sikhulule Tito sitye kangangoko sinako. But what is there for us to eat?