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The State of Credit Capture – Secure in Credit Comfort

The system was designed in such way that we no longer see buying things cash as wise. There’s a credit culture it has created. A culture of having without owning. A culture of borrowing without wanting to borrow. We’re locked up for life. If you think about it, you’ll realise how inhuman this system is.

Look around you. If walls could speak they’ll tell you how the system destroyed family (especially the black family). The family unit has been crushed because the system demands blood, sweat and tears. It needs us to work for credit. Since when was it correct for us to get excited when we qualify for credit? What went wrong?

The system mocks and discards those who can afford to purchase without using credit. It romentise credit and protects those who qualify until they are unable to feed it.

It almost seems and feels weird for one not to be in debt. We have normalised what is abnormal. We aren’t afraid to swim in a pool of debt. Sadly, our wealth creation is in the intensive care unit (ICU) surviving on oxygen drips yet we preach “economic freedom in our lifetime.” We March to banks on Monday for the Apartheid money “they owe our government” and then run to them to get credit on Tuesday morning. We’re trapped in the system.

“Come on in and get a discount when you join us.” – the famous line said by those who are also trapped in the system. The most disturbing reality is that we are beginning to believe in this fable. It’s a hoax! It’s a trap. It’s all lies. Oh, I forgot that we know all that. We know it all. We know that we are captured and “mara re tla reng.”

What’s wrong with Haiti?

A century ago, US troops invaded and occupied a small country called Haiti. They stayed there for almost two decades, installed a client government, imposed new laws and fought insurgents in bloody battles on difficult terrain. Thousands of residents perished during what turned out to be 19 years of ‘de facto U.S. rule’.
 
Today, many Americans think of Haiti as a country that is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake, but fewer realise that it’s recovering from an invasion that took place in 1915 which resulted in their state president being assassinated.
 
Americans had stepped in under the guise of dismantling anarchy and fostering democracy. But in reality, two things drove their actions: a desire to curb Haiti’s economy and government in a direction that was more in line with their own and concern over imperialist interest from France and Germany. U.S. leaders soon pressured the Haitian legislature to elect a new pro-American president, Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave.
 
When we look at Haiti’s current challenges, we often overlook the bigger problem it has been facing since 1915 and that is Americans invading another country to extract it’s minerals and imposing laws and dictating presidential elections. We are just not looking deeper into the crisis Haiti is facing. We are simply ignoring the overwhelming and most visible facts of Haiti’s real challenges. In an article I published in 2013, I go even deeper to question “are the so called natural disasters really natural?” is my quest to understand the challenges facing Haiti.
 
What you must know is that around 2,400 sq km of northern Haiti – or about 8% of the surface of the entire country – could be ripped away from local farmers and given to US and Canadian companies. In 2012, the mineral wealth for this area, which includes gold, copper and silver, was estimated to be worth more than $20bn.
 
Alarmingly, some contracts have been granted behind closed doors, without scrutiny or participation by Haitian civil society or parliament. Opening this kind of opportunity to foreign investors without proper laws, enforcement and transparency in place has created much anger among the population and some politicians alike.
 
What is happening to the citizens of Haiti is an emotional and traumatic experience. We cannot deny the evident pain the people of Haiti are facing, but we can’t keep quiet about the underlying issues that America has with Haiti. If a government is destabilised, it cannot control or prevent the disasters it finds itself in and that is where Haiti finds itself.
 
I will continue to pray for Haiti, but I also want America to leave Haiti alone.

Step on the corruption scale

Say you were to step on the “corruption scale”, how much do you think you would weigh?

Just like most people, I have a problem with corruption in its diverse forms. In recent years, most of our media reporting has exposed corruption on all levels of government (be it local, provincial or national). Every week we hear of protests and rumours of protests against inadequate service delivery, often the result of corruption in local government.

And whilst a number of municipalities and leaders may be under corruption watch, I have to ask, are we any different to them?

Some 47% of South Africans say they have <a href=”http://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/content/almost-50-s-africans-paid-bribe-last-year” target=”_blank”>paid a bribe</a> in the last year. According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013, securing essential services in South Africa means that a staggering 20% more of our population believes that this is the only course of action compared to the worldwide average of 27%.

What this means is that almost half of the country is participating in some form of corruption to access essential services. Believing ourselves to have no other choice, we pay our way out of trouble.

The barometer also asked respondents how they viewed the extent of corruption in twelve key institutions or categories – from political parties, to Parliament, military, NGOs, media, religious bodies, business, education systems, judiciary, health services, police and civil servants. A 24% increase in perceived corruption in religious bodies – surely the one area in our society that should be above reproach – paints a bleak picture.

Whilst many might debate the real causes behind citizens participating in some form of corruption, one has to consider the impact of historically pervasive disadvantage – a factor that remains to this day.

Take for instance a single, unemployed parent of five children – three of school-going age and two who have completed their education but have not yet found employment. They live in a two bedroomed RDP house and receive a monthly bill of R600 for municipal services, for water, rates and electricity. They’ve accrued a backlog of R25 000 on their account. Failure to pay results in the municipality cutting your electricity and reducing your water supply. As a result many people in this situation resort to paying bribes to municipal officers to reactivate their services. This may seem as an option considering the conditions at hand, however it is another form of corruption and it all starts there.

I encourage us to respect our institutions and make arrangements to pay our debt so that we can root out the influence of corruption in our society.

As a graphic designer, I was recently requested to forge the security certificate required for a tender submission in return for the promised “ke tla go fa ya colie” – the well-known shorthand “cash for a cool drink” that is an invitation to a dodgy deal. I admit I was tempted – until my ethical concerns held out. However, I equally have to admit that I still failed to find the courage to voice my disapproval.

One example most of us are familiar with is that of a traffic officer asking: “What’s in it for me?” It’s a “get out of jail free card”. However, it creates a platform for both you and the officer to contribute towards the advancement of corruption in our society. Like most crimes, corruption should be punished.

The problem with corruption is that it destroys prosperity by doubling the cost of the provision of services or doing business. A corrupt political, civil society, or business leader uses the opportunity to benefit improperly, as insurance for performance of duties.

Such leaders take advantage of their power to harbour resources unto themselves. Corruption has taken hold in all spheres – in both the public and private sectors, and even in religious institutions – that should function as the custodians of our national conscience.

We must hold corrupt officials accountable for their actions – even our Number 1, the president. However, if we are going to point fingers, we also have to look at our own actions and take responsibility for our own ethics. This means that each one of us too should refuse to receive or give a bribe.

It is possible to have a corruption-free nation if it starts with you and me.