Paying up wrong thing to do
So, there I was in a land far, far away (East London, to be precise), striving to haul my sorry ass back home to the loving, warm bosom of my little nuclear family.
It was a Friday night and mummies were arriving at the airport with little ones in their pyjamas to meet the daddies who had been off working in unspeakable big smoky places like Johannesburg and Cape Town. I envied them, not only for being reunited with each other, but for living in a town where kiddies still go to the airport in their pyjamas after bath time.
But when I checked in there was something wrong: I hadn't noticed on my e-ticket that the homeward leg of my trip was booked with an outfit called SA Express. Being a curmudgeon of a certain age, I protested to the pretty young check-in woman that I had a problem with flying with SA Express.
I muttered something or other about how their leadership shouldn't be trusted with running a hotdog stand at the East London agricultural show. I carried on about how I had booked with SA Airways and was surprised and rather dismayed to find myself entrusting what's left of my body and soul to a dodgy airline.
But it was late and it was Friday night and the pretty young lady had never heard of corporate - governance and so I swallowed my principles and got on the SA Express aircraft. Point is that I don't want to support any undertaking that doesn't give corporate governance the highest priority - or that doesn't do it with some modicum of consistent success.
Corporate governance is about a great deal more than ticking boxes on board attendance and awarding directors hefty annual fee increases. It is about ethical and effective leadership. And if the leadership of an entity like SA Express is questionable, as you thunder down the runway you can't help wondering how many Klippies and Cokes the captain had at The Flying Dutchman aviators' pub before driving unsteadily to the airport.
Which is no doubt an unfair slur on the pilots of SA Express, but fact is that the integrity of the entire organisation has been brought into question because of the shortcomings of its leadership. A similar thing is happening at Faulty Towers in Auckland Park.
A few years ago, the pay-your-TV-licence ad campaigns had the payoff line: "It's the right thing to do." It is now palpably clear that paying your TV licence is the wrong thing to do. But I was recently forced to support this wonky organisation to the tune of R250 because I wished to acquire a TV set.
I don't want to do anything of the sort and have not the slightest intention of ever watching SABC1, 2 or 3. I resent the legislated fact that I am legally obliged to consort with and support, through my licence fee, this bunch of scoundrels and nitwits. These days a clean auditor-general's audit for a municipal entity is something of a rarity - and cause for somebody in authority to bring in their cousin's catering firm so that everyone can have an office knees-up to celebrate the fact (which obviously entails knocking off early).
Then, in case you've missed it, there is the three-ring circus that is our country's bomb-buying agency, Armscor. The board came up with a new strategy which required Armscor to do things it is not allowed to do. And so some officials objected, and they were suspended. The minister fired the chairman. But he refuses to be fired. It would be hilarious if this mob weren't responsible for acquiring deadly weapons in our names.
All this jiggery pokery is going on in a country that leads the world in terms of corporate governance and sustainability and integrated reporting and all those good things, thanks to the hard work of Professor Mervyn King and the wise men and women who serve on his committees. Clearly there is a divide between what's good for the private sector goose and the public sector gander.
Poor East London. According to recent reports, its council, Buffalo City, is the worst metropolitan council in the land. It's not really fair. We can mostly withhold our endorsement of companies that we don't approve of, but we get hauled to court if we don't pay our rates and taxes. Or our TV licences.