“But, after 26 years of ANC rule, in which the public purse has been stripped bare by thieves who parade as leaders, by politicians and their enablers who crucify voters on their electoral crosses by robbing them of their dreams and hopes of a better life, we are no longer surprised. And our outrage has been domesticated to a shrug of the shoulders.”
The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture advertised a tender to appoint a service provider to “provide a comprehensive Wellness Intervention Programme for South African Cultural and Creative Practitioners … for a period of three years”.
This is, indeed, a time when artists and the creative community generally are in need of support, and when they need their emotional, physical and psychological needs to be taken care of, given the devastation that the COVID-19 lockdown has wreaked on the sector. Just recently, the Fugard Theatre – one of the most active and vibrant theatres in the country – announced that it was shutting down until a vaccine is in place and audiences and performers can enjoy theatre as per “normal”. Numerous people have lost their jobs as a result. This story is being repeated in many creatives’ households, with increasing desperation the longer the pandemic continues, and with reports of depression and suicides not uncommon.
Any intervention to support the creative community is to be welcomed. So, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture should be congratulated, right?
But then, it is announced that the winning company for this “wellness” tender is Indingliz Advertising and Marketing (the value of the contract is R14 912 901 for a three-year period). An advertising and marketing company to provide a comprehensive wellness programme for the creative sector?
The winning company’s website declares: “We are all seasoned professionals whose collective experience spans various disciplines in the area of marketing communications and are equipped to provide full turnkey communications packages at a fraction of the rates that you’ll get from bigger agencies. We are capacitated to carry projects from concept stage all the way to execution phase with seamless vision and professionalism.”
“If every time an ANC leader or the president or a cabinet minister said, ‘We will deal with corruption,’ a thieving, corrupt scoundrel was actually arrested, charged and put on trial, our prisons would be more overcrowded, and perhaps those tempted to steal from the people would think twice because of the very real consequences.”
Nowhere is there any indication of the company’s experience or capacity to deliver a “wellness programme” for the South African creative sector, so that one is left with that sickening feeling of yet another government scam! Yet another vehicle of enrichment for a few individuals at the expense of a sector in desperate need of emotional, physical and psychological wellness, underpinned by financial security.
But, after 26 years of ANC rule, in which the public purse has been stripped bare by thieves who parade as leaders, by politicians and their enablers who crucify voters on their electoral crosses by robbing them of their dreams and hopes of a better life, we are no longer surprised. And our outrage has been domesticated to a shrug of the shoulders.
A few days ago, Tito Mboweni, minister of finance, tweeted: “A tender is an ethical contract. It is not a blank cheque to deceive and steal. And stealing from unwell people! During a COVID-19 pandemic! Please people. What kind of people are these criminals?!” And again: “The wrongs being done by unscrupulous thieves must be dealt with decisively. It is time that leadership led without fear, favour or prejudice. Watch this space.”
If every time an ANC leader or the president or a cabinet minister said, “We will deal with corruption,” a thieving, corrupt scoundrel was actually arrested, charged and put on trial, our prisons would be more overcrowded, and perhaps those tempted to steal from the people would think twice because of the very real consequences. But there is just so much hollow talk and empty threats and meaningless gestures in the direction of “dealing with corruption”. Every day, there are more and more reports of individuals for whom ubuntu means “I am, f*%$ you!” and who steal with brazen impunity.
Yesterday, it was the Eastern Cape Department of Health engaged in a scooter scam. The day before, the Special Investigating Unit found 90 companies to be engaged in defrauding the Gauteng Department of Health. Today, it’s the husband of the president’s own spokesperson accused of a corrupt relationship with politicians in order to score from a huge contract to supply personal protective equipment. A pharmaceutical company is fined for increasing prices on the basics people need to stay safe at this time. Companies are allegedly abusing the SABS approval stamp to distribute sanitisers, disinfectants and face masks that do not conform to acceptable standards.
All of this at a time when our country has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 infections globally.
If we think we face a huge existential threat because of the coronavirus, we are deceiving ourselves, for the bigger and ever-growing threat is from the virus of corruption that has infected just about every sector of our society.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against this virus. And we are staring into the abyss.Buro: NM