Taxes down the drain

11 07 2008

It’s winter, the rainy season in Cape Town, which means that thousands of shack dwellers’ homes have been flooded, again.

And as the water subsides the displaced folk will be out hammering up new makeshift shelters for themselves.

Once again the local government will spring into action, trying to provide relief to the displaced.

But this is an insane way to misspend our taxes.

The shacks are built on a flood plain and, as sure as the southeaster will blow, they will be flooded next time it rains.

That is but one of many reasons why we have laws and regulations that restrict building on flood plains and in wetlands.

The Bill of Rights guarantees South Africans access to adequate housing. Yet that does not mean that even the poorest of the poor can deliberately expose themselves to peril and expect compensation from the public purse.

For it also compels the state to “achieve the progressive realisation of this right”.

The government has promised free housing for all and has spent billions on the project. But this remains one of the most inefficient and corrupt areas of service delivery.

The problem does not lie with the desperately poor who try by hook or by crook to get a roof over their heads.

It lies with officials who fail to perform their duty.



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