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The Jewish Report Editorial

Pay back the money!

  • Peta low
Waking up last Sunday morning to headlines in the Sunday Times about R139 billion being stolen from Eskom coffers was enough to spoil any weekend breakfast.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Feb 28, 2019

In our edition last week, we had an insightful opinion piece by psychologist Judith Ancer about being realistic about load shedding and not overreacting. However, it is one thing to come to terms with blackouts, and another to accept that there were people in government literally opening state coffers to thieves, allowing for what the Sunday Times has called an “orgy of looting” of this ridiculous amount. In fact, fingers are pointed at just 11 contractors… This beggars belief!

The figure is astonishing. Let me break it down, possibly more for my benefit than yours. Let’s say the cost of an upmarket house is R5 million. Imagine that R139 billion will buy you 27 800 such fabulous houses. At a guess, that’s about 50 suburbs…. Perhaps even a large city.

Now you get the picture. That money is yours and mine, and comes directly from our taxes or the hard-earned money we spent on electricity.

Right now, South Africans – most of us – are poorer than we were last year. Our expenses have skyrocketed, but our earnings have not. Everyday life is tougher, and what we were able to buy with what we earned last year, we can’t buy this year. It hurts when the petrol price goes up, but it increases anyway, and there is little we can do about it.

When the electricity and water bills keep going up, it hurts even more. The pain is made much worse in as much as we are probably paying these huge sums because of state capture and the wholesale theft of our money. What’s more, we still have power problems. In fact, they are worse than ever. It’s sickening!

Now, I’m quite open about the fact that I believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa is the best president we could have right now. As a journalist over the years, I have found Ramaphosa – long before he became president – to be a man of integrity and honesty.

However, I would not have his job for any money in the world. How do you deal with a situation in which state coffers have been fleeced like this? How do you regain trust in a party that has allowed the country to be plundered?

I do not believe we – as citizens – should accept this any longer.

I, for one, want to know what is going to be done to replace that money. I would like to see those who stole the money punished and in jail. However, much more than that, I demand that they pay back the money.

We must not have to foot the bill. We shouldn’t have to deal with the interest that would have to be paid to the international community to bail us out.

No, much of that money is probably sitting in Swiss or other bank accounts. There must be a way of getting it back, and returning it to our economy.

For once, I have found allegiance with Julius Malema in demanding that the crooks “pay back the money”.

Most of us in this country just want to live in peace and harmony, have a good job, earn a decent salary, and educate our children to become contributing members of society. This desire cuts across all sectors, race, religion, age, and economic standing.

It shouldn’t be too much to expect. It would ultimately mean that we would have all hands on deck to create the best possible economy. Sounds wonderful! However, when we are faced with R139 billion stolen from Eskom, it’s hard to be positive about achieving this South African dream.

But then, with little over two months until the elections, as a country, we have the opportunity to have our say. Let’s make it clear that we do not accept a government that steals from us, and that we expect those thieves who were in government to pay back what they took.

Call me naïve, but I expect the government to serve the people, not rob us blind. I expect it to honour its promises to look after us, and improve the economy.

Let’s make our voice heard in our vote. The government cannot let this lie. It needs to find a way forward that doesn’t take more money from us, but still puts it back into our fiscus.

Shabbat Shalom!

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