There are many things the South African government could do with R4 billion to improve the lives of citizens in the country, but instead, it’s considering buying president Jacob Zuma a brand new jet that could cost up to that amount, according to reports.
Headlines across South African media today ran with the controversial story about Armscor, the defence force’s acquisitions agency, planning to purchase the plane that would put Zuma among the world’s presidents with the most luxurious private aircraft, next to statesmen like Barack Obama.
Naturally, all tax-paying citizens should be concerned about this as the money for this aircraft, should it indeed be approved for purchase, will come from public funds.
With a calculator in hand and armed with a few statistics, we’ve drawn up a list of ways that kind of money could be put to better use.
Digital hubs in underprivileged schools
Earlier this year, htxt.africa attended the launch of Sunrise Secondary School’s first digital hub. Each hub costs R1.3 million and is equipped with Wifi, tablets, a café, smart boards and high tech security features to prevent theft. Community members are also allowed to take advantage of the service to do things such as search for jobs online and do research and online networking for their small businesses.
Although the digital hubs are a private venture, government could get on board with the project or build similar ones. R4 billion would be able to buy 3 076 digital hubs for schools across the country.
Broadband in South Africa
This year, minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene allocated R1.1 billion to SA Connect‘s distribution of broadband internet in government institutions and schools. Government hopes to have provided internet in all schools and government facilities by 2030.
If we’re to go on the above mentioned allocation, R4 billion could speed up the process dramatically, which is already behind on some of its targets, by about three years and help government reach more facilities quicker.
The #FeesMustFall protests over higher education fees at public universities are still very fresh in the minds of South Africans. The rising cost of higher education is something many students and their families simply cannot afford anymore, which is what inspired students to start the protests.
Although president Jacob Zuma announced a 0% fee increase for 2016 across all universities, the average cost of a year’s worth of education at a university still remains very high at R100 000. R4 billion would be able to fully cover government’s university fund shortfall or pay for at least 40 000 students’ fees.
We could go and on about the many services that could really use an allocation as big as R4 billion. The fact is, as the leader of a country with so many socio-economic matters that are the government’s responsibility, getting a “Nkandla with wings” is the last thing that should be on Zuma’s mind.
[Image – CC Wikimedia Commons]