Right from its inception, many of us have been sceptical of the lottery. Those who supported its establishment always told us that monies would be disbursed to deserving causes and that no real harm would come of it.
But experience over the past few years has shown me that indeed there are negative aspects to the lottery. For example, just watch the profiles of people who play the lottery. They are usually the poorest of the poor, putting money they don't have on the possibility of winning millions.
Week in and week out, they do this. Week in and week out, they lose.
Sure, the money goes to some charities, but do not forget that a lot of it goes into huge profits for those who run the lottery. That is why over the past few months there has been such a massive fight over who gets the lottery licence when Uthingo's licence expired on Saturday.
All that said, the lottery has been ongoing for a long time now and those who partake of its dubious pleasures should not have their weekly fix interrupted. Certainly not in the manner that it has been by the incompetence and sheer lack of foresight by the Trade and Industry Department. Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa should have foreseen that there would be intense jockeying for this licence and concluded the process a long time ago. Instead, the announcement was made only a few months ago and the resultant legal challenges have caused the suspension of the lottery until the matter is resolved.
I know that in the greater scheme of things this is a mere lottery and in fact not many people will be affected - bar the fact that profits won't be accruing to the licence holders. However, what has happened shows a terrible trend that is developing in this country: we are late with things because we do not plan properly.
It is a bit like the fact that Eskom cannot seem to provide electricity for the people. We are now beginning to take it as given that we will have electricity cuts and no one at Eskom wants to take responsibility for that. No one, for example, wants to take responsibility for the fact that we are not building enough roads to deal with our responsibilities.
Both these examples are an illustration of the lack of forward planning that is taking root in our government. Mpahlwa and his department failed to plan. Is he going to take responsibility for this embarrassing debacle?
I bet you he will not. I bet you no one will be censured and fired for this. Mpahlwa will continue in his job as though everything is hunky-dory. His officials will do the same.
The culture of sheer incompetence continues unabated.
Our people will continue to lose faith in our government and its institutions if this sort of thing continues. No one is punished for anything. Bad service becomes the norm. It is a disgrace.