Government’s car ‘doesn’t stop for anything’, especially the poor

While Mashatile’s VIP transport came into focus again this week, thousands of the most vulnerable were left stranded.

Millions are expected to tune in for the Rugby World Cup starting today, but there were more than a few glued to their screens on Thursday hoping to hear the latest fuss about a blue light brigade.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile was fielding questions in parliament when he was asked again about his VIP protectors beating up people on the N1 highway in Johannesburg. His response was tinged with arrogance as he cried sub judice and declared: “The cars that carry the president and the deputy president don’t stop for anything”.

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The incident has become another blatant example of the disconnect between the government and those it serves. It is also a reminder of the distance between those in power and the people who put them there.

While Mashatile’s VIP transport came into focus, thousands of the most vulnerable were left stranded.

Sassa grant beneficiaries, including the oldest citizens in the country, were left hungry, angry and desperate on Tuesday when a technical glitch saw them unable to withdraw their benefits. Those who had woken up at the crack of dawn to collect their money were left standing in queues all day with no word on when it would be resolved.

Numerous attempts to get hold of Postbank, who administer the grants, were unsuccessful except for sporadic statements the issue was being worked on.

A glitch in the system

It was passed off as a glitch in the system, similar to what many major institutions have battled in the Internet age.

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A glitch is just a glitch to those who carry on their day and ignore calls from those trying to hold you to account.

But a glitch is not just a glitch when people are not able to feed their families for days because the government is unable to keep its promises, or when people are made to wait in the hot sun with nothing more than hope they will get what is promised to them.

Hope is why many citizens voted the way they did in the last general elections, and it’s left them hungry and desperate.

Hope is also why they have been patient with a power utility that recently ramped up rolling blackouts to stage six and seems to prioritise political-pleasing over citizens and maintenance. That hope has left many of us in the dark.

Hope is why people leave for work every day knowing load shedding and the economy mean it could be their last.

The powerful cannot continue feeding the people a steady diet of hope.

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Inflation has dropped over the last few months, sparking hope food and basic necessities like rent will stabilise, but a brutal petrol price increase, load shedding, and “glitches” have brought us back down to earth.

The petrol price has not yet affected the price of a taxi or bus tickets, but indications are that it might and will bring more devastation.

The government cannot, like Mashatile, roll up the window and keep driving. Poverty and the struggles of everyday South Africans are in their face and they can no longer hide from it.

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