Much anger this week in South Africa as it emerged that the cost of police protection for ANCYL President Julius Malema for 12 months to October 2010 was R886,668.54 – once again, people are ranting first and then (not) thinking later.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question by Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the VIP protection was provided from October 23 last year to October 11 this year.
Two close protectors at a time were provided, and the cost totalled R886 668,54, he said.
Now, I’m not saying that R886,668.54 isn’t a lot of wonga – it’s equivalent to $128,500 or £80,460 – and that sort of money can do a lot of good in a country like South Africa. But then, it’s not simply the amount of outlay that determines worth: one must also take into account the value which that service provides.
…at which point every angry whitey in the country dives in and tells us it’s worth nothing – you only have to check out some of the comments on that article:
Utter waste. As a taxpayer I am beginning to get more and more upset at the way this government wastes money; perhaps a tax revolt is in order?
Waste of money yes, perhaps not quite as popular as he thinks he is.
etc etc etc…
But let’s stop and think about the moment that some angry Afrikaner (or any other) is finally pushed over the edge by the latest instalment of Julius’ seemingly constant inflammatory chatter, goes to his gun safe, takes out his legally-owned firearm and heads down to the ANCYL roadshow as it passes through his Free State town to show his displeasure in a very public, very final way.
And then let’s consider the consequences of that for this country. Unpretty.
There would be those who would say that Malema has put himself in that position with his style of speech and I wouldn’t disagree. There will be still others who argue that because he puts himself in that position, he should pay for his own protection. I don’t think that’s such a bad idea either.
But because of his public nature and the implications were he offed by unhappy person, I think the government has a responsibility to protect him.
And that responsibility is to the country, not to Mr Malema.
I recognise that this is probably a pretty unpopular viewpoint, but there was the perfect example of this situation in the UK just yesterday with the violence at the student protest in London. Had the police initially come out in force, they would have been criticised for their unnecessary over the top reaction and the consequent “waste of taxpayers’ money”. But now they find themselves in a worse situation: having to explain why they were seemingly unprepared for the apparently unforeseen violence which accompanied the demonstrations – and why they failed to prevent it.
And that was just a few broken windows, not a civil war.