If you’re just a football-loving South African, who cares very little about anything else, I’m sorry to disappoint you this week as I have to take a sharp curve and add my voice on what’s going on in our wonderful country. If you are a patriotic South African like me, which I presume is the case, surely you will understand where I’m coming from. Even foreign nationals reading Soccer Laduma will understand why this column had to be different.
You see, last week I spoke about the football leadership and the impact their decisions have on the general public – little did I know that we were actually sitting on a time-bomb that was to explode in a matter of hours! For the uninitiated, R500 billion that was meant to provide COVID-19 relief to the poorest of the poor has allegedly been squandered through irregular tenders and corruption by those with close proximity to the powers that be! We are talking about donations that, some of which, came from people who decided to share the little they had to mitigate the spread of this pandemic and the subsequent economic ramifications. Some of these were loans and they will have to be paid back by who? Sadly, you and I!
Corruption is nothing new in our country, but it has to stop! This is a huge insult and tantamount to spitting on the graves of those who laid their lives fighting for this country’s freedom for it to be turned into a get-rich-quick scheme for the connected bunch. How do you even sleep at night, knowing that a huge chunk of the money that was meant for the betterment of our people is in your bank account, illegally? How do you steal from the very same people who showed a lot of confidence in voting you into power so that you can represent them and better their lives? Have you any conscience left? Sitting in your cosy home, watching television and witnessing the damage caused by this pandemic ravaging your own people, while you sip on your expensive champagne before going to sleep and feel nothing. Surely something is wrong with you!
People are losing jobs, getting retrenched, businesses are closing down, poverty is at an ever-increasing rate, with more and more people being dropped to the unemployed queue and you choose to drag all of them further down the poverty chain instead of showing leadership and giving them a hand out of their quagmire? Who steals from the poor? How heartless can our leaders be to execute the biggest cash heist in the history of this country in just four months? Four months is all it took and the pandemic has now reached its peak and people continue to die, hospitals are overcrowded and one of the solutions, from our leaders, was to dig up graves in anticipation of more lives lost rather than providing the basic immune system-boosting medicines, enough facilities at our hospitals and Personal Protective Equipment for our front-liners who are staring death in their selfless attempts to curb the spread of this pandemic, among other things. Most of the health practitioners have been exposed to this pandemic with little to no regard from their leaders, who are enjoying fat tenders in the process while our people are dying. You are a bunch of shameless and heartless crooks! Whoever has been found to have played foul in this tender process should be held accountable and pay the price.
Ag, scratch that! Before you know it, there will be a COVID-19 commission that will cost the taxpayers more money than bring anyone to book, once the COVID-19 dust has settled. I am ashamed to be a South African! This level of blatant corruption is not the way to go, man! How can we build our country on corruption? It is not enough for President Cyril Ramaphosa to promise strong action and leaving no stone unturned in the wake of this heartbreaking scandal. With all due respect, Mr. President, we’ve heard that one far too many times and our eyeballs feel sore just thinking of the delay, in anticipation, for the proverbial stones to be turned. If there was a time for you, Mr. President, to show us you care as much as we’d like to believe, it is now! Something has to give! We can’t afford to continue in this sloppy road with these shameless thugs in expensive suits running our country down. I always wonder why there seems to be no accountability in the running of our beloved country. Why is the President surprised that the Relief Fund has been looted? Has he been out of the country? Is there no paper trail of the expenses and is there no one reporting and auditing all three spheres of government? These people have no regard for the lives of the very same people they are supposed to be leading. Yes, this is a football column but, trust me, I’d love to talk about the return of professional football and Luc Eymael’s reckless and racist utterances, but this supersedes everything!
Our leaders get away with a lot only because we allow them to. It is time we take action and hold our leaders accountable. We can’t continue to do the same thing and expect different results. That’s utter madness and, just like the President said, the battle against Corona is now in our hands, the future of this country is in our hands! If we are happy with the current status quo, then we shouldn’t make noise about our leaders looting state funds to line their pockets while the country’s economy continues on a downward spiral! This ‘tenderpreneur’ mentality has run a number of municipalities down and it has become a norm, in all spheres of government, for people to line their pockets at the expense of their communities. It is utterly wrong when politicians are splurging and living lavishly, in the face of their subordinates’ poverty, and see nothing wrong with it. I haven’t felt this bad and embarrassed to be a South African but, as I said, we either just talk and fold our arms or do something about it to make sure that there’s a better future for our next generations rather than for only certain politically-connected individuals! Whatever we choose to do, history will judge us one day! Have you noticed how most, if not all, of these thugs running our communities have no time for the government facilities because they can afford affluent lifestyles with their families while those who put them in power are dying on a daily basis because of lack of basic equipment in government health facilities? South Africa, you are on your own!
I’m sorry I disappointed a lot of people who were looking forward to a football-related column, but if this doesn’t transcend football, in terms of relevance in our immediate lives, I don’t know what does. Something has to change, people. It has to change.