In an effort to try and close the gap between the haves and the destitute, any government has to make decisions that are unpopular with some sections of society, and if the section it has alienated is big enough and the majority are unhappy, the government will be voted out in the next election. That is the theory. In practice, it does not work that way in South Africa.
Too often the left hand has no clue what the right hand is doing – as if the various departments operate in silos of self-importance, or, even more worryingly, the left hand doesn’t care what the right hand is doing.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said the new visa requirements for travellers to South Africa are having a worrying negative effect on visitor numbers.
Simple: all he is saying is what various stakeholders have either said or warned against. In this minister’s view, while human trafficking must be dealt with, the numbers have been exaggerated to justify a policy that is strangling his portfolio – tourism.
As we all know, Home Affairs does not want to hear anything and has dug its heels in. Two departments of the same Cabinet are apparently at loggerheads – and the casualty is the economy.
The most emotive issue in SA is land – and the Expropriation Bill was being thrashed out in parliament yesterday. Concerns over the wording, the implications and constitutionality of the bill were raised.
It remains to be seen whether the ears being spoken to will listen and work to find a solution that allows government a way to make hard decisions without room for catastrophic mismanagement or the crippling of the banking sector which financed the land in the first place. Or, will the egos that drive these brave new projects push ahead with blinkered arrogance?
Dropping tourist numbers is one thing, but the chaos that could ensue from a mismanaged and ill-conceived land restitution programme could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Who wants an administration that can’t even account for building renovations at the president’s homestead taking away land “in the public interest” and determining a price?
All the king’s men would be eagerly awaiting their (p)lot.