IT IS actually funny how certain phrases become de rigueur at given times of our political life cycles.
Usually such phrases are used by the ruling class or the dominant political party (at a given time) as weapons to deal with dissenting voices from either the masses or their political opponents.
For example, in the 1980s it was the done thing for those in the mass democratic movement to describe their political opponents as "reactionaries".
Post-1994 anyone raising concerns about performance by the ANC-led government was labelled "anti-transformation".
Isn't it funny also how "transformation" has become a rubber stamp for any action by government apparitchiks?
Take the shenanigans by NPA head advocate Menzi Simelane of disembowelling this country's most successful anti-crime unit in the name of transformation.
Obviously Simelane does not believe in the saying "if it's not broken do not fix it". All in the name of transformation.
We have noticed now that the ANC's expression is "no law of this country has been broken" when explaining any questionable behaviour by one of its leaders or structures. This, for example, was the explanation by President Jacob Zuma relating to Chancellor House and its stake in the Eskom deal.
Only yesterday the Minister in the Office of the President Collins Chabane threw the Constitution at journalists who wanted to know how deep must the already tax-burdened South Africans dig into their pockets to finance Zuma's polygamist tendencies. The question asked was how many of his children are being supported by the taxpayer and for how long will this go on?
Last month it was revealed in Parliament that the presidential spousal support budget had almost doubled since Zuma took office. Parliament heard that the spousal support budget for 2008/2009 was R8million, but had now increased to R15million for 2009/10.
Officially, Zuma's wives are expected to provide support for him in the execution of his presidential duties. Money allocated for this includes the cost for each wife's personal support, travel and accommodation, cellphones, laptops and printers, as well as a daily allowance during travel.
On the other hand the Presidency also allocates 60 economy class flight tickets a year for Zuma's children (within and outside of marriage) to visit their parents wherever they are. This applies to children aged 18 and under as well as those between 18 and 27 if they are still studying.
When asked about who in Zuma's populous family is and is not covered by these costs, Chabane told the media that the Constitution does not limit the number of children or wives the president may have.
This is a known fact. It is also a known fact that Zuma is a confirmed polygamist. Of concern, however, is the ominous portend that the situation presents. Potentially this means the poor South African taxpayer could be faced with a situation where the spousal budget becomes four times what it is now, depending on the size of the president's umndeni.
This is really disconcerting, to say they least. I want to bet my bottom dollar that somewhere in a far-flung village of Limpopo, there is a gatvol taxpayer who says: "Zuma can be as polygamous as he wants to be ... but he cannot expect me to continue footing the bill for his amorous expeditions."
For the record, Chabane was speaking at a pre-presidential budget vote media briefing. He was there to outline what he, his colleague Trevor Manuel and Zuma were going to cover in their budget vote speeches later in the national assembly.
Chabane and Manuel outlined the progress made by the Presidency in establishing an efficient government. In this regard, Zuma must be commended for making progress to sign performance agreements with the various ministers and the appointment of members of the National Planning Commission.