TOMY­MIND

COLLEEN NAUDÉ

Finweek English Edition - - Finweekcontents -

THERE ARE IN­DI­CA­TIONS that sound judg­ment and bal­anced views are start­ing to gain the up­per hand in the ap­pli­ca­tion of Gov­ern­ment’s bi­ased ide­ol­ogy. In the years fol­low­ing South Africa’s first demo­cratic elec­tion – and es­pe­cially un­der the lead­er­ship of Thabo Mbeki – peo­ple were ap­pointed to key po­si­tions based on their strug­gle cre­den­tials and other ide­o­log­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions, some­times with em­bar­rass­ing con­se­quences for the coun­try’s im­age world­wide. Manto Tsha­bal­ala Msi­mang’s beet­root and gar­lic stall at an Aids con­fer­ence was prob­a­bly the low­est point.

And the in­ju­di­cious im­ple­men­ta­tion of af­fir­ma­tive action has also cost SA dearly in many ar­eas. One of the vis­ual re­sults is the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in ser­vice de­liv­ery, es­pe­cially at lo­cal gov­ern­ment level. In some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, ba­sic ser­vices such as refuse re­moval and the main­te­nance of sewage sys­tems have com­pletely col­lapsed, re­sult­ing in shock­ing con­di­tions for ratepay­ers.

The re­place­ment of of­fi­cials from the pre­vi­ous dis­pen­sa­tion af­ter 1994 by peo­ple who had to be com­pen­sated for past in­jus­tices was nec­es­sary and un­der­stand­able. But the process went much too far, of­ten without due con­sid­er­a­tion of the skills re­quired. The ap­point­ment of peo­ple sim­ply on the ba­sis of pol­i­tics and/or race turned for­mer well-func­tion­ing es­tab­lish­ments into chaotic wrecks.

Re­cently, there have been wel­come signs from Gov­ern­ment cir­cles – for ex­am­ple, by Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sicelo Shiceka – that other fac­tors will in fu­ture be con­sid­ered. Shiceka pulled no punches when he re­cently in­tro­duced his depart­ment’s Op­er­a­tion Clean Au­dit 2014 in Par­lia­ment. “The pub­lic has been com­plain­ing, and re­ports from the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral con­tinue to re­port about poor man­age­ment, dou­ble pay­ments by of­fi­cials, stolen goods... Let me tell you, this time around, die poppe gaan dans”.

The Trea­sury’s draft reg­u­la­tions on State buy­ing also show ev­i­dence of a mea­sure of com­mon sense. For ex­am­ple, a max­i­mum of 10 out of 100 points are al­lo­cated on the ba­sis of a com­pany’s black empowerment sta­tus if it bids for con­tracts of more than R1m. The other 90 de­pend on price. In some cases, other fac­tors may also be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion, and con­tracts need not nec­es­sar­ily be granted to the bid­der with the high­est points.

Black busi­ness­men who, ac­cord­ing to Sake24, clearly ex­pressed their dis­sat­is­fac­tion at the meet­ing when the reg­u­la­tions were dis­cussed might have to start get­ting used to the idea that sound busi­ness prin­ci­ples are now also be­ing ap­plied to empowerment.

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