Living la vida Shiceka: A guide

Sicelo Shiceka: What a rock star.

I mean it. We’re all fixated on his unending list of wasteful expenditure but we’re missing the little details that emerged ages ago. Like that 2010 report that he hired a full-time videographer to follow him around and broadcast his activities on to huge screens around the department’s head office. It’s like he was trying to create his own reality show.

He faked having a master’s degree, throws private parties on the government’s tab, and even has a township named after him. If that’s not admirably rock-star-like for a minister, I don’t know what is.

I know that everyone is thinking the direct opposite right now. A minister for barely a term and he managed to clock up over R1.2-million in wasteful expenditure — and that’s just the amounts investigated. Who knows how many other clandestine trips took place around the world; a jailed mistress here, a five-star hotel stay there. All on your tax dollar.

And consider, his critics will say: this is a man who has spent just shy of two years in office. Shiceka has been on sick leave since February 2011.

But such musings are a sadly disconnected Western way of looking at the situation. It lacks context and empathy. But, more direly, it lacks a proper understanding of the Entitlement Formula.

You’ve never heard of the Entitlement Formula? No wonder you’ve felt so helpless and confused by the politics of our land.

If you’ll allow me; a quick guide.

The formula is a thing of mathematical beauty. Never again can you accuse a minister of arbitrary abuses of power. Oh no. It’s never arbitrary.

100[pX][iY] X z = EF

Don’t sweat it if the above is Greek to you. Creative accounting is your financial advisor’s job, as is taking the fall when push comes to forceful shove. But just so you get an idea, all you have to do is take the number years spent in prison for fighting against apartheid. Then think back to every insult and deprivation you suffered at the hands of — well, anybody.

Multiply the two together and then times it by a hundred for good measure. Then comes the best part: work out a figure you feel represents your contribution in the overall struggle. Seriously, any figure. Don’t be afraid to think big. People like Tony Yengeni have set a very high bar here, and you need to keep up. Once you have that figure, multiply it with your last total and — hey presto! You have your entitlement figure and can go forth and gather the goods from the various budgets allocated to your fiefdom — ahem — department.

You may criticise the method given the variable value of Z, or, total contribution. But if you do so you will be forgetting one golden rule: We didn’t struggle to be poor. Or, apparently, to offer the service delivery we promised the people who voted us in, but that’s another story.

One problem: I don’t actually know how many years Shiceka may have spent in prison, or whether he spent any at all. But, really, jail time is a flexible phrase — just look at Julius Malema. If he’s anything to go by, jail time can well means the years you’ve imagined yourself tirelessly fighting as a committed comrade — even if you were eight years old at the time.

In fact, like Malema, Sicelo started his climb to power in the ranks of Cosas, proving that militant youth organisations in our country really do produce the best leaders, as the ANC Youth League keeps trying to tell us.

So go on, all you wannabe political rock stars. Punch your own figures into the Entitlement Formula and get stealing.

Very importantly though is to never let the people who may have done more than you to get in the way. Discredit the old stalwarts who live simple lives and criticise your life of excess. But more importantly do clever things like screw over the anti-apartheid veteran pension fund.

The unit was established in 1996 to pay people prevented from accumulating a pension because they were fighting against apartheid.

But our investigations have revealed that the fund has been crippled by fraudulent claims and legitimate ones which never seeing the light of day. As a politician rock star may put it: Booya.

In. Your. Face.

  • You can read Verashni’s column every week here, and follow her on Twitter here.

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Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

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