Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Money in the water: what Sibusisu Ndebele could have done with that Merc

Much of the discussion about new minister of transport, Sibusisu Ndebele's gift S500 Mercedes Benz, valued at more than R1 million, focus on Mr Ndebele's ethics in the matter. 
Why did he feel the need to first "consult" with the president, when the South African context makes the correct cause of action so abundantly clear? Is he that morally challenged? After all the problems surrounding Ngconde Balfour's 4x4 Volkswagen Touareg 5.0 V10?
Now Mr Ndebele has decided to return the Merc. Amazing. I applaud him. It only took him four days to come to the same conclusion any normal person would have reached in about four seconds.
But what a lost opportunity: if he'd immediately declined it would have been excellent. If he'd turned around and requested his benefactors donate it to some charity, or have a competition to raise money... that would have been awesome. 
I seriously hope he doesn't expect much praise for this belated, and apparently reluctant gesture.
What I do hope is that the spotlight turns to the givers: The Vukuzakhe Emerging Contractors Development Programme. Mr. Ndebele describes them in his statement as...
"... a Government Programme much like the Expanded Public Works Programme it now forms part of, and not a private legal entity that presumably I would have business or financial interest or benefit from."
Wait, what? They're a government programme giving away Mercedes Benz S500s? Where do I apply?
"...an emerging contractor development programme which focuses on wealth and job creation in communities that have been most disadvantaged historically."
Now, if someone should have known better, it's these guys. What were they thinking?
They also have a quote from the new minister on their web site, which I think is worth sharing (my bold):
"Central to the lasting eradication of poverty is the creation of a growing business sector that creates sustainable jobs which in turn, increases the productivity of our country. The small business sector must reflect economic empowerment of ordinary citizens and not just the upper echelons of society."
-S'bu Ndebele
Perhaps the government themselves should also show more solidarity with ordinary citizens and stop trying to BE the "upper echelons of society".
I sincerely hope the next time this happens, and it will, someone will do the right thing immediately without reservation. Tokyo Sexwale is our best hope. He wasted no time resigning as executive chairperson of the Mvelaphanda Group. Unfortunately he got praised for doing so by the DA which is never a comfortable feeling.