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Dear Government, why must you fly business class?

Dear South African Government

I have come to a few realisations. All of which are admittedly obvious, but still need to be mentioned. I think a point-form approach will put things across more succinctly.

1. We as the citizens of this country pay your salary. Yet the rules for the way we earn our money and the way you earn yours are startlingly different. You get to decide on what you deserve to be paid and dictate the terms of pay for “regular” civil servants. You also decide the minimum wages for employees in various sectors and what increases we all receive.

2. You then set perks for yourself — company cars is one of these. You do not provide personal vehicles for every citizen, so why is it that you receive a luxury vehicle as part of your package? You do not provide us with a means of luxury travel for use “in the course of performing our duties” yet you get to choose your vehicles and we have to pay for them. Buy your own car with your own money.

3. Why is it that you must travel in business class? What makes you so special? Why can’t you teleconference? Save us the bill of your travels … and your lunch. Virtually nobody gets food provided for them as part of their jobs. Therefore you need to pack a few sandwiches like the rest of us.


4. We have rules for what we have to pay (rates, taxes, utilities etc) and penalties if we don’t pay them. Why are there no similar penalties for you? If you don’t deliver on your mandate or you go over-budget, we pay for your mistakes. Time for you to pay up for not doing things on time too.

5. If businesses don’t work we go bankrupt. If parastatals don’t work, they get bailouts. So either you start giving everybody a bailout, or stop spending our money to fix problems that need to be repaired by doing things correctly in the first place. For most of us, going over-budget means an overdraft. Which we have to pay back. So if you go over-budget, then you must pay for it yourselves and not with our money.

6. Why do taxes, fuel levies, tolls go up? Because you need to fill the gaps caused by overspending and financial mismanagement. So why not function the way the rest of the citizenry has to? Buy your own cars, pay for your own fuel, get your own gym memberships. Don’t revamp your gym at a cost of millions to us. Go on a diet instead, or for a run (you can pay for your own shoes). We are already forced to subsidise your inability to deliver. We have to pay for medical aid, private security, water filters for safe water and now generators for power.

7. In the private sector, poor performance means you lose your job. Theft means you go to court. However with you, poor performance gets you an ambassadorial posting and theft gets covered up. If people don’t make the grade, deliver on their jobs or put in the hours — it’s time for them to get canned and not receive a golden handshake or a bonus.

8. We are answerable for our actions — either to you or to bosses, superiors, managers etc. It’s high time you get over it and accept that you are answerable too. Firstly to us as your employers, and secondly to the Public Protector. Don’t read the Constitution selectively and don’t be in denial about the Public Protector. We have a right to know exactly what you are doing and why. Why do you get to decide what is secret and what isn’t. National Security will be best served if we know what you are doing and why.

9. Just like the rest of us, you don’t get to make the rules. You need to follow them. That is why we have one of the most comprehensive constitutions in the world. That is our means of eliciting control over your actions.

10. If you give pensioners a bit over a thousand rand a month, why is it that there is such a thing as presidential spousal support? You won’t pay my wife for simply being my wife? So why should I pay for yours, Mr President? If she needs money, she has to do what we all do. Get a job. If you decide to have more than one wife, or numerous kids, that means you have to afford it. Not get us to pay for their wellbeing. While we are at it, why do they need paid-for flights, homes, cars and drivers? As the provider in your home, that’s your responsibility. Not mine.

11. If I don’t know what I’m doing in my job, and I need the help of an adviser, then I have to pay for that help. Consultants, special advisers or experts — if you need their assistance in order to do your job, it has to come out of your pocket not mine. Just a reminder: your pocket means your own salary, not the funds that we the citizens contribute to the fiscus.

12. We are not provided with personal security, spokespersons, drivers, deputies and assistants. So unless you can provide these for all of us, why do you have to have these? If you don’t feel safe without a bodyguard, can you imagine how the rest of us feel? Since you are doing such a sterling job, there is no need for all these additional people — rely on what we have to rely on. It will give you some perspective, otherwise pay for it with your own salary.

13. Why do we have to provide you with a home? You are barely managing to produce homes for the poor, so how is it that you are using our money to give yourselves homes or accommodation in every city that you work in? Pay for your own house. Otherwise, use the same houses that you are providing for the rest of the populace. If you want nicer digs, no problem. Use your salary. That’s what the rest of us have to do.

14. Time to stop using our money to finance your lifestyles. We will decide on the Ministerial Handbook. You cannot make rules for us yet make completely different ones to suit yourselves. Remember you work for us. We are not just numbers or cash cows. We have loans, responsibilities, families and many things to take care of. You cannot deliver to us if you don’t know how it feels to do things the way we have to do them. You will only realise how much things cost when you have to pay for them yourself.


A South African Citizen
(aka your employer)

Image – Gallo


  • Ravi Mackenjee is a 36-year-old businessman with a keen interest in politics, the social environment and has a penchant for the law.