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FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: The SABC and what it tells us about the state

OPINION

If you are not a football fan or follow the PSL, news that the SABC is unable to broadcast local professional football matches might have no effect on you, understandably.

Yet this, coinciding as it does with the publication of a report into the public broadcaster - which found there was editorial interference and an abuse of power to terrorise staff - suggests that what we have before us is more than just a sporting issue.

They are symptoms of a state increasingly unable to meet its obligations because of how it allows individuals to run institutions as though they were their private fiefdoms.

In other words, it is a service delivery problem enabled by arrogance, greed and a lack of fiduciary care by the state.
The cost of this absent-landlord mentality is borne by ordinary households.

Every family that can afford it has already removed the state from the equation. Those who can have medical aid because they cannot risk going to a hospital that has run out of basics.

But medical aid still caters for only about a fifth of the population (about 9.4 million) - the security industry is shooting the lights out.

It is one of the fastest growing businesses in the country, outgunning the South African Police Service and South African National Defence Force numbers combined. Citizens have resorted to buying whatever modicum of safety and security they can get. They cannot afford to hear “we don’t have vans” when the criminals jump over the walls of their properties.

It is no surprise that the Private Security Regulatory Authority has over 8,000 registered companies and more than 500,000 individuals employed compared to the SAPS’s 150,000 members as announced in the police's 2017/18 annual report.

This means that there are three private security guards for every police officer.

Everywhere one looks there is a private school or university being built or has just got up and running.

The state keeps punting the use of public transport but nothing comes of it because, apart from the taxis, there is not much of a public transport system to talk about, hence commuters would rather endure ever-increasing fuel costs and drive wherever they need to be.

All these examples suggest that an increasing number of households and individuals have lost faith in the capacity of the state to deliver what in other countries are basics.

The SABC’s current situation is also symptomatic of having an unpatriotic government, not just those who ran the organisation down. That the buffoons and the greedy could be allowed to strip a national asset as they did the public broadcaster should be a crime against the state.

Heads must roll. Law enforcement agencies should chase all those who had a hand in bringing the SABC down to its knees. They should spare no effort and seek them from every nook and cranny.

When found, they should be made an example of to ensure that never again does anyone think they can do as they like with public institutions and purse without there being consequences.

If nothing comes out of the SABC report and it being cash-strapped, the poor will not only bemoan not having access to their favourite sporting code. They will not have water, lights and schools because some crooks would have looted the state in the knowledge that they can get away with it.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.

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