Pigs at the trough

In the movie Snatch, a most unnerving, quietly terrifying little man – a gangster called Brick Top – makes a speech about how one might dispose of a human body. He says: You’re always gonna have problems lifting a body in one piece. Apparently the best thing to do is cut up a corpse into six pieces and pile it all together. And when you got your six pieces, you gotta get rid of them, because it’s no good leaving it in the deep freeze for your mum to discover, now is it? Then I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs. You got to starve the pigs for a few days, then the sight of a chopped-up body will look like curry to a pisshead. You gotta shave the heads of your victims, and pull the teeth out for the sake of the piggies’ digestion. You could do this afterwards, of course, but you don’t want to go sievin’ through pig shit, now do you? They will go through bone like butter. You need at least sixteen pigs to finish the job in one sitting, so be wary of any man who keeps a pig farm. They will go through a body that weighs 200 pounds in about eight minutes. That means that a single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked flesh every minute. Hence the expression, ‘as greedy as a pig’.”

In our current political dispensation, the only appropriate allegory seems to be one of a feeding frenzy. Politicians have a term of office during which they see their primary goal as one of accumulation of state resources and funds for private use. Whoever does this best, and with the least amount of discovery, may consider themselves successful. The greedy pigs are siphoning off huge quantities of public money in grand theft racket that would make even the biggest bank robberies in history seem shamefully small by comparison. Every day the newspapers creak and leak stories of some wastrel in a position of influence skimming so much off the top that they hit the bottom. Once in a blue moon, someone with a backbone or some principles decides to blow the whistle, they find themselves threatened, bribed or suspended on full pay (which amounts to the same as the other two). We throw our hands up at bankrupt departments and municipalities too numerous to list. We hear fairytales about uneducated, untalented, unsophisticated wives and nephews of politically connected cadres who amass garish great fortunes overnight. We see a Youth League leader fallen from grace who, once he became a thorn in the side of the elite was discovered to be in arrears to SARS to the tune of R16-million in unpaid taxes and penalties. I would aver that if he had known his place and kept his nose down he’d never have been victimised by those who hold the attack dogs at bay, but I have no evidence to support this speculation. The fish is rotting from the head, and this time it will leave us all reeking of putrefaction.

As Richard Levin, director-general of the Public Service Commission (PSC), told Parliament’s committee on public service and administration in April this year, R52-million a year at the low-end and ‘significantly more if provincial departments are included’ is paid just to suspended officials in government departments. This is what the PSC is prepared to own up to, so we’d be justified in thinking the whole thing is costing well into the hundreds of millions, and perhaps more. This money is going to people who have been suspended, and who are sitting at home doing nothing whatsoever for the state or taxpayer. There are individuals like Jackie Selebi who owe the state 17-million in legal costs alone. God knows what other monsters are lurking under the bed.

Politics is still the only game in town where you can get other people to elect you and do the work for you, for the poor to be in thrall to you and for the taxpayer to fund just about anything in return for your… well, that’s right, nothing. You don’t make a product, you don’t add value and you spend your time deciding on where to apportion money that you didn’t make.

We are the body Brick Top is talking about in Snatch, and the politicians are the pigs. Mangaung is the great trough where spoils of swill will be parcelled out to loyal cadres and the since nobody is curating the process, some of our teeth will ruin a few of the less fortunate pigs’ digestive tracts. By nightfall, all the troughs will be empty, the corpulent pigs will be sleepy and fat and the rest of us will be sifting through the shit. That is what has become of liberation theology. Remember what the dead boar Smuts Ngonyama declared: “I didn’t join the struggle to be poor,”. No Smuts,

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