Matthew Lester: There’s more than one way to f$ck fat cats

Meet Thomas. Fisherman extraordinaire, brilliant cook and my good friend.

(Don’t worry, he put both the mussel crackers back in good working order, fair wear and tear excluded.)

On the Davis Committee I have been working on the taxation of small business. And Thomas has been making a most useful contribution showing me aspects of township business that I never knew.

Thomas smokes Savannah at R10 a pack. They taste like sh$t. But he says you get used to it quickly. And why pay R30 a pack with Sintax and VAT if you don’t have to? Millions of RSA smokers agree with him and 400 million packs of contraband cigarettes jump the northern border into RSA. This is our own unique brand of tax base erosion and profit shifting that is not addressed in the latest papers of the OECD.

He welcomes foreign businesses in the townships as he reckons they have done more for service delivery than JZ by bringing down food prices to rural South Africa.

Late on Friday night I was driving home from another trip to Jo’Burg. Passing through Alexandria it was raining and the queues for the auto banks were at least 100 deep. This happens every month on grant day. But the queues go on right through the night. Why is RSA so desperate for cash when no shops are hours from opening?

Thomas explains.

Everybody in the townships has stop orders for everything from furniture to funeral policies casino online and most of all, loan sharks. So, if you draw your money out of your account before business opens the following day, as Thomas says, ‘there’s f%ckol left for the stop orders. That’s why there are so many garnishee orders on salaries.’

So if African Bank’s director reckons ‘F$ck the poor,’ the reaction of the poor is ‘there’s more than one way to f$ck fat cats!’

After hearing that I reckon there’s just no hope for the relisting of African Bank.

Over the past 18 months I have come to the rather sad realization that although apartheid may be 20 years off the statute books, we still live a very segregated life in RSA. The privileged live behind high walls ignoring the harsh realities that exist within a few meters of us.

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