The average PAYE taxpayer currently pays between two thirds and three-quarters of their income one way or another to the various layers of government, but there are only 5 or 6 million of them to support the 52 million or so in SA. As Mike Schussler says, an unsustainable situation. Taxpayers are becoming increasingly hacked off with reading stories of the looting of Government coffers and examples of profligate waste while local and national government is presiding over a slow but sustained collapse of the national infrastructure. In many areas, Municipal Services is an oxymoron.
More and more people are questioning whether they are receiving value for the tax payments they are forced to make. Given a free choice many would pay far less or stop paying at all.
Take the current favourite, electricity. It was not really rocket science to work out that if you were adding millions of new homes and business to the grid that you would need increased generative capacity and an extended and working distribution infrastructure. Our lords and masters knew this because they sat on a report and ignored increasingly panicky representations from the industry for nearly ten years and did nothing. Hence our national growth is restricted, and we are a hair’s breadth away from a complete failure of the power grid. If four or six hours of sitting in darkness in a previously powered area during a planned power cut is bad, consider the effects of no electricity at all for two weeks. That’s how long it will take to recover from a complete grid failure.
What is really adding salt to the wound is that the situation could be much eased with one simple action.
For most users, the reality of not paying the bill is that you are cut off by your Municipality or Eskom. Finis und klaar. However, there are people, householders and businesses, who have never received a bill, people who are unlawfully connected to the grid, and people who have never paid a bill that are continuing to receive power. Some Municipalities collect payments from users and don’t pay Eskom. The result is that Eskom are owed billions for unlawful and unpaid usage. Eskom won’t tell exactly how much. Cut off power to these users, and the risk of power cuts and a total system collapse for the rest of us significantly lessens.
However, this does not happen. No visits from Eskom or the Municipality to cut them off. The conclusion that most people draw is that the policy of no disconnections is politically motivated. The ruling party don’t want to alienate their voters.
The knock on effect is really undesirable. If laws are enforced for one section of the community, but not for others, then this will surely lead to an overall disrespect and disregard of all laws by all sections of the community. In the case of electricity, I am surprised that there have not been any reported cases of previously law-abiding users stopping payment and simply reconnecting themselves after the disconnection team have left. Why bother stopping at four-way stops, why bother with car licences, why bother paying rates, why bother interacting with the State at all. Where will it end?
I have a gut feeling it will end in tears in the not too distant future.