In too deep

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It’s nearing the end of the year and from what I can see, many people are already switching off and have one foot on the plane to their December holiday destination, after a challenging year.

Our well-reported political misgivings have not made doing business any easier against a backdrop of recession, with the private sector turning within, trying to make sense of the rocky seas that we have created for ourselves.

The latest budget speech did little to calm investor fears and laid out the sheer debt that South Africa is digging itself into. Why? We have previously been a debt-averse country, with the likes of astute former Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel fighting hand and tooth to keep spending down.

Staring down a three trillion rand debt by 2020, and still whispers of an unnecessary trillion rand nuclear deal, has all sense gone out the window? South Africa is going to be facing a similar problem as the United States, whose debt outstrips GDP by some distance. Let’s not even start talking about debt-riddled Greece, which had to sell some key port assets.

The role of the various forms of the government should be to provide stability and security for its citizens. Try, where possible, to keep essential items and services affordable to the man in the street, and to not make a profit off its voters, nor ring up a huge debt.

However, places like Australia are arguably worse than SA for taking advantage of people where it hurts. Apparently, it costs 1 000 Australian dollars to renew your car license every year. That’s R10 000, whilst it is closer to R700 in South Africa. Having said that, you can still sleep with your door unlocked, which may be worth price.

Driving to the airport recently, I took a different route, which took me through the Cape Flat’s most notorious areas. I was pleasantly surprised by improvements in road infrastructure, with a double lane highway running through the heart of the area. Litter was under control, while the flats and houses looked well maintained.

The result of the rising house prices in Cape Town has made areas that were previously undesirable, into more desirable areas, given the shortage of accommodation. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. Driving through Cape Town’s biggest informal settlement, Khayelitsha, there were clear signs of improvements and development. So, I think we are seeing service delivery on some levels, and the local and national government need credit for that.

Speaking of doing the right thing, Leadership was lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with the granddaughter of a legend of peace and hope, Mr Mahatma Gandhi. In these times of doubt, we could learn a thing or two about sustainable change through his wise granddaughter Ela, who is spreading many of his valuable lessons of peace.

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Issue 410


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