Tuesday, 24 January 2012

One Death Too Many: Stop Institutionalising Carelessness!

23rd August 2010

Nothing cracked my maternal heart as much as the fatal accident in Blackheath last week in which ten children died as a train ploughed into the mini-bus taxi that illegally crossed a railway line. The taxi driver allegedly overtook a number of cars and tried to slip through the boom fully cognisant that a train was on its way. MEC Robin Carlisle is rightly angry about the lawlessness of our taxis but he and government generally are not doing enough to curb the anarchy on our roads. Just travel to work on the Main Road going to Cape Town on any given day. Taxi drivers routinely jump red lights, overtake left right and centre, defy the rules of the road and have the cheek to threaten others when one indicates annoyance. They have no respect for any road rules because they know very little law enforcement applies to them. Instead, energies are concentrated into making easy money by fining drivers in the suburbs for exceeding the speed limit by a paltry 10 or 20 kms.

 A recent Financial Mail reported some road accident statistics which blew my socks off and explains much of the anarchy we see on our roads. Of the 9,2million vehicles on our roads, only 8.2 million are licensed, and up to half of the drivers have obtained their licenses fraudulently. Worse, the average annual road accident rate is 850 000, of which 350 000 account for injuries and/ or fatalities. With political will this carnage can be curtailed but politicians are too busy securing their power bases to care about the citizens. Citizens, on the other hand, are apathetic and not even the deaths of these children move us into action.

Lawlessness has become a way of life because the SA government, too, is lawless. It started with the travel scandal in Parliament and the ANC knew that had all those implicated MPs been charged, we would have had a constitutional crisis, simply because so many of our legislators were involved. This lack of respect for the rule of law is also evident in the current public sector strikes. While the grievances of teachers, social workers, nurses and others are legitimate, trade unions fail us when they disregard emergency health and security services with impunity. Where is the leadership? Instead school children are beaten up, babies and the sick are left to die.

On another front, journalists stage a sit-in in Parliament to protest against secret Portfolio Committee hearings into the embattled SABC. Judge Olivier rules in their favour and our legislators and the Board simply ignore the ruling. SABC board member, Pippa Green, who lodged a complaint against me with the Ombudsman for criticising the appointment of CEO Solly Mokoetle refuses to apologise to me for my constant prophetic exposés of her beloved basket-case of a SABC. The public broadcaster defies transformation and current board members are vain to think they can stand up to the ANC and clean out this sewer of perennial stench.

And as for our Minister of Defence, Lindiwe Sisulu, she is lawlessness personified. Repeatedly showing Parliament ‘the finger’ by refusing to open up her report on Defence to Parliament, she a liability to her brother, Max Sisulu, speaker of Parliament, and a disgrace to her parents. She runs one of the most dishevelled ministries in the country, trading on her political pedigree to get her off the hook.

Lastly, the Arcellor Mittal/Imperial Crown Trading deal that catapulted the Guptas, Zuma’s children and relatives into the billionaire echelons, is the surest sign that Zuma knows he will be a one-term president. Spreading the state’s largesse to his ever expanding progeny has become a presidential priority if the YOU magazine is anything to go by. Zuma’s family modestly hold more than 130 directorships or memberships of closed corporations. The vampire state under Zuma exasperates even Vavi, his one-time closest alliance partner:

“We are heading rapidly in the direction of a full-blown predator state in which a powerful corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas increasingly controls the state as a vehicle of accumulation.”

Whether it is children killed through reckless driving, corrupt MPs, an unruly SABC, Lindiwe Sisulu, and irregular mining deals, they all point to one thing – a creeping anarchic state where things fall apart because the Centre is out of control.   

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