Thursday, December 3, 2009

How much did you spend, Mr Mayor?

Joburg's Executive Mayor Amos Masondo is a politician indeed.
Following some not-so-positive media reports about his recent trip to China, Vietnam, India and Russia he quickly called a press briefing to do a bit of damage control.
So off I headed to hear what he had to say. Not surprisingly, he revealed nothing more than was already known. That he had taken 15 people - three of which were "support staff" or aides with him to four countries on a "trade mission".
He lost no time in telling us what a punishing schedule they had. How he sympathised with his fellow travellers when their feet were swollen at the end of the day (perhaps the aides were taken along to massage the tender footsies at the end of the day). It was gruelling, but they did it for the people. The needs of the people were core to all of this.
All of us journalists wanted to know one main thing: exactly how much did this jaunt cost Jozi ratepayers?
First round of questions. First question: "How much did this whole exercise cost?"
Answer: One comma something million rands.
Second round of questions. First question: "Can you be more specific on the cost, please? Can you give an actual figure?"
Answer: When you are talking about these things, it doesn't matter if you spend R1 or R2. You need to weigh it up against the value of what you get at the end of the day, and that is what is important here. We spent something more than a million. It was more than a million, that's all we are saying.
Third round of questions. First question: "Please put an exact figure to the cost of this trip or tell us why you cannot make the cost known. And how do you measure the value, what measures or monitoring process do you have to quantify the value of the trip?"
Answer: You can never quantify these things. There is no way to measure them, but the value is inestimable and will come out in the long term. You see nothing in the short term. But the reports we write will not gather dust, I can assure you. The final cost will be detailed in a report that will be made public in due course".
How is that? The mayor takes 15 people with him to Vietnam, India, China and Russia and now refuses to divulge how much it all cost. Stuff ratepayers, public interest or any other argument we put forward.
He simply refused to say. And there was nothing we could do about it.
So once again the extra-mural activities of Tiger Woods made for the most interesting news of the day.
One of the subs sent me this spoofed Tiger on holiday pic. Classic!!!

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