OUR splashing ministers just don't get it. Of course, there is no law against perks and luxury cars with top-of-the-range extras.
Some of them claim that their acquisition of the best that the car market has to offer is necessitated by the need to beef up security. The most gratuitous explanation for this opulence comes from Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda.
Apparently, his two cars, worth close to R2,5million are tools with which he is supposed to deliver on his mandate.
Nyanda's spokesperson issued a statement calling Cosatu's criticism of this conspicuous consumption opportunistic.
How can calling for modesty at a time when our economy is shrinking and citizens are disheartened from the sheer burden of poverty, unemployment and a lack of service delivery, be opportunistic?
The dictionary meaning of opportunism is, "The practice of looking for and using opportunities to gain an advantage for oneself, without considering if this is fair or right."
Hands up those of you who think it is opportunistic to buy exorbitant cars without considering if it is fair or right to millions who have been waiting for housing, antiretroviral drugs, basic services, food and education?
The argument that due procedure was followed and that the ministerial handbook allows for this overt display of lavishness is so pedestrian.
Our actions, whether we are in government, the private sector and even in our families must yield to the demands of our times. Due procedure is not God's law and I am sure it can be amended to reflect the pressing times in which we all find ourselves.
Our economy has shrunk and the tax pool is still decreasing. This is not the time to go over the top.
I know for a fact that many private companies have had to lay off staff. Some have cut down on fancy lunches and even gone as far as not giving staff bonuses and a share in profit because of the current economic climate.
Last year we even heard that some companies did not have Christmas parties or, at most, had very basic end-of-year functions.
Even in our homesthe normal thing to do is to take care of priorities like school fees and healthcare and to cut out non-essentials like entertainment, travel and luxury cars.
Budgeting does not mean there is no money for extras. It simply means when the going gets tough, you redirect the funds to more pressing needs.
It is shocking that some of our ministers do not pause to reflect on how they come across.
In a country like ours, where the wealth gap is widening, the moral thing to do as a leader is to show modesty and self-mastery.
The ministerial handbook and its fancy rules is flawed if it does not have a clause that compels ministers to show common decency and tighten their belts when there is an economic meltdown.
And please don't tell us about how the US president travels - First World versus Third World - spot the difference?
The high-flyers should take a leaf out of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale's book. I am sure Sexwale is still allowed to travel first class and this would save him time when he fulfills his mandate, but in keeping with these times he has chosen not to.
That applies to all employees in his department. Now there's someone who understands communications and is thus sending the right message.
I am sure Gordhan subscribes to the same handbook but has used his brain and adroitness and realised that the right thing to do is to be modest.
A minister who does not have the insight to see the negative message that he or she sends by getting the best of everything in a country where citizens are either told there are no resources or that they must be patient, is clearly out of touch.
It's like visiting your poor relatives and flaunting your car and clothes in their faces. How juvenile! I am not suggesting that our ministers must travel by taxi, bus or dikorokoro but I am sure it is possible to deliver on their mandate without this obscene spending.