The problem with a country which has a government mired in allegations of corruption – and one in which wrongdoers are seldom held to account – is that the morality of the public also declines.
One of the ways that decline manifests itself is in the refusal to pay levies and taxes.
We have seen that clearly in the ongoing – and massive – boycott of e-tolls and now, according to the SA Revenue Service (Sars), more and more people are ducking their obligations to pay income and other taxes.
According to Dr Randall Carolissen of Sars, the organisation has seen increased “slippage” and that people are “cynically refusing to pay the taxes because they are dissatisfied with the government”.
He promised that there will, from now on, be a greater emphasis on tough law enforcement, through measures like tax courts, to force compliance. Having to use the stick rather than the carrot on taxpayers is not healthy for a democracy.
Forcing compliance and hunting down evaders takes time and money which could be better used for development. And the worrying thing is that once people get into the habit of not paying, even a radical change of government is not likely to change that attitude.