State of de­part­ments

The un­sexy slog

Finweek English Edition - - Openers - TROYE LUND


Mbeki says: “Pace of im­prove­ment slow. Fluc­tu­at­ing ma­tric pass rate needs to be sta­bilised and im­proved. The num­ber of matrics pass­ing maths and science is only slightly bet­ter than in 1995.”

PRES­I­DENT THABO MBEKI didn’t mince words in his State of the Na­tion ad­dress con­cern­ing where Gov­ern­ment is fail­ing and how this con­trib­utes to poverty, crime and “all that’s ugly and re­pul­sive in our coun­try”.

Up against? Min­is­ter Pan­dor has no author­ity over pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ments, which are self-di­rected and not all com­ing to the party, es­pe­cially not when it comes to mak­ing sure all schools have text­books and sta­tionery when they open.

While ANC MPs have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion that “the laws and poli­cies they pass are not be­ing im­ple­mented,” Sadtu warns that “un­less we give the na­tional de­part­ment power to im­ple­ment poli­cies, we’ll con­tinue to lose teach­ers”.

Pan­dor is ex­pected to un­veil de­tails of a na­tional eval­u­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment unit that will mon­i­tor in­di­vid­ual schools to en­sure they re­ceive the re­quired at­ten­tion and sup­port. Plans to “li­cense” all teach­ers to guar­an­tee set stan­dards is still on the cards.

Va­cancy rate: 20%


Mbeki says: “Gov­ern­ment com­mits it­self to in­ten­sify the fight against HIV and Aids. Our im­proved na­tional com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy against Aids and sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions is fi­nalised as soon as pos­si­ble.” Up against? Min­is­ter Manto Tsha­bal­ala-Msi­mang has to lead Gov­ern­ment’s new approach with zero cred­i­bil­ity. That was com­pli­cated by her deputy en­trench­ing Gov­ern­ment’s shift on HIV and Aids while Tsha­bal­ala-Msi­mang was on sick leave.

Staff morale is low, with close to 40% of top posts va­cant. Fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment – high­lighted by the last three con­sec­u­tive Au­di­tor Gen­eral re­ports – re­mains a prob­lem.

Over­all va­cancy rate: 22%


Mbeki says: “Bring the op­er­a­tions of the De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs to full ca­pac­ity by fill­ing va­cant posts, im­prov­ing sys­tems and im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions of the task team that has been work­ing with the Min­is­ter to im­prove this vi­tal in­sti­tu­tion. Im­prove im­mi­gra­tion and doc­u­men­ta­tion ser­vices.” Up against? Fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and cor­rup­tion, as out­lined in the Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s re­port for five years. Min­is­ter Mapisa-Nqakula also has to deal with a high staff

Fi­nan­cially, the coun­try is in the best shape it’s ever been in, with Gov­ern­ment cof­fers boast­ing a sur­plus. Mbeki says the “or­gan­i­sa­tion and ca­pac­ity” of the State to put the money to bet­ter use is “high on the agenda”.

turnover – five direc­tors-gen­eral in 10 years. An ID au­dit needs to be con­ducted as soon as pos­si­ble – R40bn in white-col­lar crime was com­mit­ted from mid-2005 to end-2006 us­ing false IDs.

Im­mi­gra­tion and asy­lum sys­tems are over­loaded and dys­func­tional. The high-level team that went into the de­part­ment last year to turn it around has sub­mit­ted its pro­pos­als to Cabi­net.


Up against? A con­gested bu­reau­cracy. Some lower courts are only cop­ing with 24% of all their cases, and the to­tal crim­i­nal court case back­log is around 200 000. Min­is­ter Ma­bandla’s de­part­ment is un­able to at­tract or re­tain good prose­cu­tors. Trans­form­ing the bench means judges don’t all have enough skills or ex­pe­ri­ence. Civil cases – of­ten de­lib­er­ately dragged out – clog the sys­tem fur­ther.

Ma­bandla will prob­a­bly make an­nounce­ments con­cern­ing rolling out a new e-case man­age­ment Mbeki says: “ Put more ef­fort into im­prov­ing the func­tion­ing of the courts… re­duc­tion in case back­logs.” sys­tem and leg­is­la­tion al­low­ing for com­plaints against in­com­pe­tent judges.

Va­cancy rate: 20%


Mbeki says: “We’ll fi­nalise plans to ad­dress call ter­mi­na­tion rates this year. Telkom will ap­ply for a spe­cial low rate for in­ter­na­tional band­width to 10 de­vel­op­ment call cen­tres… as part of the ef­fort to ex­pand the BPO sec­tor. We will also take a variety of steps to… de­velop high-speed na­tional and in­ter­na­tional broad­band ca­pac­ity.” Up against? In­ad­e­quate pol­icy and staff re­ten­tion is­sues are ham­per­ing po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment to mak­ing telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and broad­band ser­vices ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able.

Min­is­ter Mat­sepe-Casaburri is un­der pres­sure to re­vise/re­lax her “man­aged lib­er­al­i­sa­tion” strat­egy and any­thing else that im­pedes com­pe­ti­tion and re­duc­ing prices.

Icasa needs at­ten­tion, as staff short­ages and turnovers make it dif­fi­cult for the reg­u­la­tor to do its job. Sen­tech, the trou­bled Sta­te­owned sig­nal dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany, needs to be brought up to speed and given more money if, as it com­plains, that’s the ob­sta­cle to ex­pand­ing ac­cess.

Va­cancy rate: 36%


Up against? A cum­ber­some bu­reau­cracy work­ing against moves to mod­ernise and align SA with other coun­tries, such as Aus­tralia, that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a growth in com­mod­ity prices. Ap­pli­ca­tions for new min­ing rights are log­jammed. Ad­min­is­tra­tive con­fu­sion is slow­ing up in­vest­ment.

Al­le­ga­tions of ir­reg­u­lar ben­e­fits to an ANC fund­ing or­gan, Chan­cel­lor House, point to po­ten­tial scan­dal.

Min­is­ter Son­jica is un­der pres­sure to re­visit leg­is­la­tion on min­eral de­vel­op­ment and for­mu­late pol­icy that will se­cure en­ergy and fuel sup­ply. Plans to build an­other nu­clear power sta­tion could be fol­lowed by an­nounce­ments about a new oil re­fin­ery.

Va­cancy rate: 16% Mbeki says: “Our Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted it­self to… raise the rate of in­vest­ment in the first econ­omy. To re­duce the cost of do­ing busi­ness in our coun­try. To pro­mote the growth of the small and medium busi­ness sec­tor. To im­prove ex­port per­for­mance, Mbeki says: “We will set up a State Di­a­mond Trader that will pur­chase 10% of di­a­monds from lo­cal pro­duc­ers and sell them to lo­cal cut­ters and pro­duc­ers.” This, he says, is part of a de­ter­mined drive to in­crease SA’s ca­pac­ity to pro­duce cap­i­tal goods.

“We will also ex­pe­dite our work to en­sure greater reliance on nu­clear power gen­er­a­tion, nat­u­ral gas and var­i­ous re­new­able sources of en­ergy.”


fo­cus­ing on ser­vices and man­u­fac­tured goods.

“One of the crit­i­cal things that we shall pur­sue in this re­gard is the speedy re­sump­tion of the Doha De­vel­op­ment Round of WTO ne­go­ti­a­tions. We are con­vinced the so­lu­tions to log­jams… can be found.” Up against? The bu­reau­cracy is bot­tle­necked and with­out enough pro­fes­sional/man­age­rial skills. The clumsy han­dling of the pro­posed quo­tas on Chi­nese tex­tiles high­lighted a lack of con­sis­tency in trade pol­icy. There’s in­creas­ing frus­tra­tion con­cern­ing how the de­part­ment works, in­clud­ing from Fi­nance Min­is­ter Trevor Manuel.

Min­is­ter Mpahlwa is un­der pres­sure to stream­line his sys­tems and take de­ci­sive lead­er­ship in im­prov­ing ex­ports and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion strat­egy in or­der to move the econ­omy away from its reliance on min­er­als and com­modi­ties.

Va­cancy rate: 30%


Up against? A Seta sys­tem – core to SA’s ed­u­ca­tion and re­train­ing ef­forts – that needs at­ten­tion, if not an over­haul. De­part­ment of­fi­cial­dom is no­to­ri­ous. For ex­am­ple, when the Steel & En­gi­neer­ing In­dus­tries Fed­er­a­tion of SA Mbeki says: “The South African Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to pri­ori­tise job cre­ation and em­ploy­ment, in line with its aim to halve un­em­ploy­ment by 2014.”

Mbeki em­pha­sised train­ing and skills as key sev­eral times, es­pe­cially in re­la­tion to Gov­ern­ment’s R370BN As­gisa and skills ac­qui­si­tion projects – all aimed at re­al­is­ing 6% growth by 2014. (Seifsa) de­vised a plan to train an ad­di­tional 500 ar­ti­sans in crit­i­cal ar­eas, ex­ces­sive red tape saw the or­gan­i­sa­tion turned down by the Na­tional Skills Fund.

Still no sign of the Jipsa crit­i­cal skills list. The Na­tional Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work – key to cre­ate bench­marked qual­i­fi­ca­tions for learn­er­ships – has yet to be re­vised.

Aside from two con­sec­u­tive qual­i­fied au­dits high­light­ing weak in­ter­nal con­trols and flawed fi­nan­cial re­port­ing, the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion red flagged the de­part­ment for giv­ing per­for­mance bonuses with­out re­views.

Over­all va­cancy rate: 12%


Mbeki says: “Pro­grammes to im­prove our lo­cal gov­ern­ment sys­tem con­tinue apace. What is of con­cern, though, in many of th­ese mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is the many va­can­cies… in se­nior man­age­ment and the pro­fes­sions. In Septem­ber last year, 27% of all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties did not have a mu­nic­i­pal man­ager. In the North West Prov­ince the va­cancy rate at se­nior man­age­ment level was 50%.

“We are on course to elim­i­nate this de­hu­man­is­ing sys­tem (bucket sys­tem) by the end of this year.” Up against? The con­se­quences of un­der­staffing, poorly man­aged ad­min­is­tra­tions, un­com­pet­i­tive salaries and work­ing con­di­tions. For ex­am­ple, last year R1,2bn of the Mu­nic­i­pal In­fra­struc­ture Grant wasn’t spent due to a lack of en­gi­neers.

Project Con­sol­i­date – an­nounced in 2004 as a plan to help 138 of SA’s poor­est mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties into fi­nan­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive health – is prov­ing a slower, more com­plex process than an­tic­i­pated.

Mu­nic­i­pal debt col­lec­tion is a prob­lem. Ac­cord­ing to the Au­di­tor Gen­eral, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are owed R32bn and that’s grow­ing at R3bn/year.

Va­cancy rate: 23%


Up against? The con­se­quences of the “unattrac­tive em­ployer” syn­drome ap­ply. It’s one rea­son it bat­tles to hold on to de­tec­tive and foren­sic spe­cial­ists.

De­struc­tive ten­sions be­tween the Scor­pi­ons and the SA Po­lice Ser­vice need to be re­solved by im­ple­ment­ing last year’s Kam­phephe Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions.

Re­think­ing how the po­lice are trained and how they do their job is paramount, es­pe­cially as se­cu­rity ex­perts stress that the po­lice ser­vice is more of a so­cial ser­vice force than a law en­force­ment agency.

Va­cancy rate: 0,3% Mbeki says: “We have sur­passed that tar­geted fig­ure of 152 000 po­lice of­fi­cers em­ployed… and while we have im­proved the train­ing pro­gramme, we recog­nise that the im­pact of this is not yet high enough. While we have re­duced the in­ci­dence of most con­tact crimes, the an­nual re­duc­tion rate… is still be­low the 7% to 10% we had tar­geted. The abuse of women and chil­dren con­tin­ues at an un­ac­cept­able level.

“Gov­ern­ment will this year: Im­prove the work­ing con­di­tions and re­mu­ner­a­tion of po­lice and… bring their to­tal num­bers to 180 000 within three years. Bring to full ca­pac­ity the foren­sic lab­o­ra­to­ries, which have been equipped with the latest tech­nol­ogy.”

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