Of all the PR gimmicks of recent times, the cutting up of your credit card must rank as the most dramatic and meaningful as it raises an important issue of wasteful expenditure in government. So, one hopes there was obviously a plan to follow-up the Minister of Finance’s strong statement about cost cutting with this visible demonstration of fiscal discipline.
Dr Minister Gigaba,
I hope this this means that you will not have access to a frivolous float of cash to spend on things that are not related to your work. So you will have to use your own credit card next time you take me to lunch. Or I may have to pay. I always believe that actions like this makes communicating a message of frugality easier. They are not just words but actions that demonstrate seriousness. So big ups to you, Minister. You are leading by example.
But now, let’s talk frankly… Imagine the impact if the whole Cabinet cut up their cards. Surely you can convince them to do the same? Or not? Because surely whatever you could possibly buy with your card cannot really make a true difference in the diversion of funds that were going to be wasted and those that should have been spent building houses and making sure people don’t die of hunger. I know that there was an MEC who bought a painting using the card, and MacDonalds – but there is always a black sheep in the family. But imagine if the whole 60-strong executive just cut up the damn things. What a message! What an impact!
Then we get all the provincial MECs to do the same. Ten per province gives you over a hundred of such warriors against waste, including the provincial premiers – one of whom has already used her card to buy Kentucky Fried Chicken in bulk recently. What a difference it will make. I bet a few mud schools can be built with that change. Of course, if we got all the mayors and councillors to do the same in the 298 municipalities, we can save an arm and a leg in expenditure. Now being a fellow responsible for numerous parastatals – your biggest coup could be to ask the CEOs to bring their credit cards along at the next meeting you convene. Some of them are pretty wasteful, if you ask me. In fact some of them even have garage cards they use to fill up their cars – over and above their obscene bonuses that are truly and affront to the poor – ask them to cut those up too and use their own garage cards to get to and from work and change their low profile tyres with their own money.
But we all know that the real wastage has got little to do with the credit card and alcohol at state functions. So here are ten suggestions that will help your credit-card-cut-up symbolism have a lot more weight:
Once again, congratulations. What you have done will go a long way in challenging your Cabinet colleagues to put their money where their mouths often are.
Onkgopotse JJ Tabane. DM
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Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africas leading media and communications specialists, as well as a community activist and a business executive. He is currently the Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings an International Advisory Company. His most recent roles were Head of Communications for COPE , Political Advisor to the COPE parliamentary Leader as well as a Corporate Affairs Executive at the JSE listed Altron. He is a member of the University of the Western Cape Council, where he is an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education after serving two terms on the council of the Northwest University. He is an Associate of the prestigious international Institute of Independent Business (IIB). He is a regular columnist for The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News. In 2011 he rejoined the ANC as an ordinary member. Tabane is a PHD Candidate in Media and Journalism Studies at WITS University.
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