LETTER: SABC bailout adds to odious debt
What is the constitutional or legal basis for repeated rescues of state-owned enterprises?
Under what authority in terms of the constitution or the Public Finance Management Act has the Treasury agreed to yet another bailout at public expense of the SABC (“SABC to get R2.1bn portion of bailout”, October 4)?
Section 216 (1) of the constitution stipulates the requirements of generally recognised accounting practice; uniform expenditure classification; and uniform Treasury norms and standards.
Repeated bailouts of Eskom, Denel, SAA, SABC and myriad other state-owned entities (SOEs) over the past 25 years have quite clearly failed this constitutional provision plus others, including 195 (1) on the basic values and principles governing public administration.
Has the Treasury still not learnt anything from its dismal failures with the arms deal debacle? After years of mismanagement and corruption these SOEs have all proved to be unfixable and should be put into immediate bankruptcy instead of saddling SA and our citizens with still more debt.
Testimonies at the Zondo commission have confirmed rampant kleptocracy in the public sector with which the Treasury has clearly been complicit because of “turning a blind eye”.
Just as the arms deal acquisitions were bought for the bribes rather than any rational defence requirements, so bribes to the ANC and its cadres by way of Hitachi and Chancellor House were a motivation for the chaos evident at Eskom. The ANC is alleged to have benefited by R1bn in the Hitachi/Chancellor House fiasco.
The long-standing doctrine of “odious debt” acknowledges that state debt incurred against the interests of the population is illegitimate and should be repudiated. The consequence of odious debt is that the population generally can never emerge from poverty.
With “grand corruption” and “state capture” under increasing international scrutiny, there is mounting global argument that odious debts inflicted, for example, on Zimbabweans and the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo — and now being inflicted on South Africans — constitute nothing less than crimes against humanity.
It is past time for President Cyril Ramaphosa to grasp and reverse what his predecessors have unleashed on the country instead of compounding SA’s financial and other crises with more bailouts and more debt in the delusion that the Treasury is some bottomless ANC slush fund.
Milnerton, Cape Town