Dear Mr President,
I live in Johannesburg, without a doubt, a first class African city. Sadly that standard of living is not as high in other parts of the country. Sadder still, it far higher in other areas.
I write to you today imploring you to open your eyes. I am a concerned citizen. I am concerned that the debate around your house has turned into one of “who is guilty for the spending” as apposed to the moral question of whether it is ethical for a man who heads a country where the wealth gap or income inequality is of ever increasing concern. Where our GDP per capita is approximately $ 6000. If it is ethical for that man to live in an approximately $ 25 000 000 house. Bearing in mind that the top ten percent are heavily skewing that $ 6000 average upward, very many earn far less.
Mr President, surely you can see that it is the ethical argument you have already lost. This is your home, a home that was built with tax payers money, rife with spending irregularities. A home built with ill gotten gains. Do you sleep well there, does your conscience not keep you up at night?
You snap at the press for focusing undue attention on the matter, but clearly, they see the moral element that you have failed to observe, you are sleeping in a house that was built with money taken from the people that put your party in office, the house you live in, where you keep your family is a thief. It has taken what does not belong to it and it has taken it from South Africans.
Mr President I ask you to look at Eskom, at our power crisis, for when something negatively affects a stuttering economy to the tune of between 10 and 80 billion Rand per month, I believe that may be the very definition of a crisis. Your municipalities owe millions in payments, money that could have been spent on maintenance, planning or new power installations perhaps? You have delegated this enormous challenge to your second in command, in doing so you have lost the opportunity to show leadership and instill faith in the South African economy. What matter is more pressing than this, what matter more sharply defines your duty?
We have an irregular expenditure figure of R 2.4 billion. Is it then any wonder that you are having such a hard time collecting outstanding e-toll monies, when it is so clear that we have so little control over where or how effectively that money will be spent?
I am concerned Mr President when the head of a democracy starts making off the cuff remarks about: if he was a dictator things would be different. How many African countries have we seen slide back into the grasp of tyranny? Where people lose the fundamental right to determine their own future? These remarks do not help us Mr President, they do not help bring in investment, they do not stir feelings of warmth.
Mr President, let us speak of blame and the placement of it. When you are the leader you are responsible for both the successes and the failings of your team. You cannot just have the one you like and place the failings on others in your team. The key theme here is, responsibility. You decided on who sat in your government. You cannot claim their successes only, their failings are your failings. The blame or credit sits with you. This is an absolute.
It is now reported that you have decided to purchase three new jets at a time when every South African is preparing to tighten their belts again. This time due to new fuel levies as well as proposed increases in residential, electricity and water rates. Are you sure you need three more jets, is this wise? I implore you to open your eyes, I believe all of the yes men in your cabinet have sheltered you from the struggle of the ordinary person. The ordinary South African who is finding it harder and harder to survive in this country where you say we have so many good stories to tell. I’m afraid we haven’t seen too many of them recently.
Mr President it is time to stop relying on the stories of the past and look to writing stories of the future. In looking to the past we can identify our failures, but it means little if we repeat the same mistakes. There are deep tensions regarding our colonial history, what of our ever devaluing currency? There is massive concern at what critical piece of infrastructure will fail next. If it is the water system how many will die before we see leadership from the front, from the top?
These are challenges we need our president to face, to lead us and reassure us through.
Mr President open your eyes, your country needs you! We need you to be the man you told us you were. We need you to be open, honest and accountable. We need sensitivity and understanding, we need a plan for jobs that delivers jobs, we need economic growth and we need you to set targets that we can measure you against. We need a leader and not a politician.
Otherwise you set the scene for the next president who can hide behind Parliament and stall trials forever in court. I understand that you are a busy man Mr President, that you will probably not read this, but others will. You know what they say Mr President, that an idea is the hardest thing to silence.
The sparks of concern have become embers at the tip of a fuse. I don’t know how long the fuse is, or where it may lead, and I don’t wish to find out. It is my deepest wish to prevent destruction and suffering in this beautiful country. Where do we go from here Mr President? We are all looking to you.