Get rid of incompetent bums
NELSON Mandela used to comfort himself in his cell by recalling the words of the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley: It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
South Africans are the masters of our national fate; collectively able to determine the direction and success of our future. Why do we make it so difficult for ourselves? When will we insist on our politicians doing what is necessary for our country to flourish or throw them out?
What most political parties essentially want is the same thing: A good start in life for our children, decent housing, decent health care, safety for all with far less crime and the constitution and rule of law operating to protect us, a social safety net for those who can’t compete and opportunities to achieve their full potential. If we all want these good things, why have we so far to go?
The answer must surely be that civil servants at every level and their supervising politicians are failing. We go out of our way to make a dog’s breakfast of even the simplest matters. Even if the solution smacks us in the face, we don’t grab it.
Take our children’s education for example. No one wants inferior education. Why tolerate lagging education standards, with maths and science rated the worst in the world? Our education spending exceeds most other countries. Our children are not intellectually inferior (except those stunted by malnutrition). Our parents mostly do their best. Many teachers are dedicated, doing a decent day’s work. But where is the accountability? Schools and teachers who fail don’t pay the price. When are useless teachers fired? Where is the recognition for teachers who perform superbly?
What of our municipalities? Can you believe that only 18% of 263 municipalities received clean audit reports for the 2015/2016 financial year before the municipal election? Only one metro, Cape Town, received a clean audit. Only one council in Gauteng, the DA-led Midvaal, received a clean audit. Eighty percent of councils in the Western Cape, governed by the DA, received clean audits while in the next best province, KwaZulu-Natal, only 18% did. Councils irregularly spent R16.8 billion.
The voters took some remedial action, replacing ANC governments in a number of councils, but some egregious examples of financial misgovernment occur in councils with huge ANC majorities.
The auditor-general refers to the incapacity of mayors and accounting officials, repeating what has been said for two decades. Why doesn’t the ANC ensure that the people it elects to important office and the officials it appoints are at least vaguely capable of running councils with budgets of billions of rand? Why allow this financial mess to get worse?
Municipal officials are well paid and if jobs were seen not as a reward for party loyalty or personal loyalty or recognition of family members, but as essential tools to efficient and honest government, we could fix the situation: Fire the bums and get some competent people to do the work properly.
Don’t accept that there aren’t competent people available. There isn’t a huge national surplus of competent, qualified and experienced people, but if you go looking for them, many are there. Sitting as part of a panel interviewing applicants for senior positions in the largest municipal utility company. I have been impressed at the calibre and the qualifications of well over 100 applicants, overwhelmingly black, available. Don’t tell me we haven’t the human material to staff municipalities. Forget about politics and cadre deployment, and go for competent professionals.
Competence is certainly in short supply in the cabinet. It seems not to be a requirement for ministers. This is a tragedy. Irrespective of who’s in power, it’s essential that those who rule us are efficient, capable and honest.
We have one of the largest cabinets in the world, backed up by hordes of deputy ministers doing little. Some know what they are doing. Some are honest, qualified and capable of doing the job, but many are qualified only by their support for President Jacob Zuma and their closeness to the presidential friends, the Guptas.
When last was a minister fired for doing an incompetent job? It’s necessary only to mention someone like Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to make the point. There are many others. Why not get rid of the bums and replace them with fitfor-purpose appointees?
Then we come to our country’s mineral wealth. There’s surely almost no one who does not want our mineral resources to be used for the benefit of the people in terms of jobs provided, and taxes paid by employees and profitable mining companies to enable the government to do the social spending that we need and investors to invest in the development of the industry.
Ours is the richest mineral endowment of any country, yet we continually slip down the table of mining countries. This is attributable to government policies, not least the latest Mining Charter promulgated by the Gupta-approved Mosebenzi Zwane, under-equipped to be the minister of mineral resources. He and the president, who’s supporting him, are doing immense and unnecessary damage to this important industry. Are there no economically literate cabinet members who are prepared to speak out to save our mining future?
The solution to all this lies in the hands of the voters. We’re entitled to the best. When are we going to insist that we receive it?
INEPT: When last was a minister fired for doing an incompetent job? It’s necessary only to mention someone like Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini to make the point, says the writer.