It’s the beginning of tax season and during an announcement about the upcoming period Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made the following statement:
“What we are trying to generate is the right kind of values in our society, values that say we must be honest about what we earn, values that say that we must declare honestly, values which say that we recognise that our taxes are going to contribute to the wellbeing of other South Africans that are not as well off as we are.”
While many things have been said and done by members of government that completely contradicts this statement and while the inconsistent behaviour of political leaders is nothing new, I can’t help but feel a pang of irritation every time I read a comment like this one.
Now on the one hand I commend him for at the very least saying that these are the kind of values that South African’s ought to have – honesty and concern for fellow citizens, yes definitely.
But at the same time I have been struggling to understand what he means when he says government is “trying to generate…” In what way has government been generating these kinds of values I wonder?
The ongoing reports of fraud and corruption, stories of government officials acting decidedly dishonest and secretive about declaring what they earn would in my mind generate the very opposite values to the ones the minister so earnestly requests from taxpayers.
This statement once again raises the question of how people in authority are allowed to say one thing and act in a completely different manner.
I have a theory that we are conditioned by our parents at a very young age not to question their behaviour. In this way we are taught not to expect consistency from people who are in authoritative positions, ‘to do what they say and not what they do’.
While relationship dynamics may differ the principle remains the same for everyone in a senior position.
Lead by example.