When one searches for a word that describes the attitude of a government that wastes swimming pools full of money, one doesn’t have to go further than “shameless”.
As official figures revealed on Tuesday that our hobbling economy had lost 48 000 jobs in the first quarter of this year, we heard that two senior police officials have been paid R11.5 million to stay at home on suspension while various legal and employment cases are finalised.
Richard Mdluli – the head of police crime intelligence – has, astonishingly, been off work for more than six years since his suspension in May 2011. He has raked in R8.3 million in salary, bonuses and pension contributions in that time.
Riah Phiyega, the former police commissioner, was suspended in October 2015, when she was found unfit to continue in her role after the killing of miners at Marikana. She has been paid R3.2 million.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula gave the figures in parliament in response to a question from the DA. About Mdluli, he had this to say: “An internal disciplinary process has been initiated, functionaries have been appointed and the process is under way.”
After six years, minister?
This whole shambles seems to us emblematic of the way the current administration either refuses to deal with pressing issues, or kicks for touch with devices such as commissions of inquiry or “internal disciplinary processes”.
That money could have been spent on real policing priorities, including training and the provision of badly needed equipment in crime hot spots.
It hurts even more that neither of the suspended millionaires has had any visible impact on reducing criminality.
But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that loyal people get the jobs … and when they fail, there are no consequences. That’s no way to run a country.