Then fix it, dear Henry

Grocott's Mail - - OPINION AND ADVICE -

In the na­tional press a few days ago: “SA will reach ‘a point of no re­turn’ if the gov­ern­ment en­acted dam­ag­ing pop­ulist poli­cies that de­stroyed hope of restor­ing in­vestor con­fi­dence, warned Neal Frone­man, CEO of SA’S largest gold and plat­inum min­ing com­pany.”

The poli­cies Frone­man was al­lud­ing to in­clude the emo­tive is­sue of land.

Last week Health Om­bud Male­ga­puru Mak­goba re­leased a re­port with so much fe­roc­ity against whistle­blower Dr Ki­ran Suk­eri that it floored em­ploy­ees and com­mu­nity mem­bers. Mak­goba’s re­port went be­yond just stat­ing that there were no prob­lems at the hospi­tal, to flay­ing Suk­eri, as well as por­tray­ing the me­dia as sen­sa­tional and ir­re­spon­si­ble.

We have stayed on this story be­cause we be­lieve pa­tients and their fam­i­lies have the right to be heard. The Press Om­bud has been ef­fec­tive in sanc­tion­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate or un­eth­i­cal re­port­ing and their con­tact de­tails are be­low.

Those priv­i­leged to have our voices heard have a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. That in­cludes pub­lic fig­ures, aca­demics, jour­nal­ists and com­mu­nity lead­ers.

In these pages, the Dean of Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda), An­drew Hunter replies to a well-re­garded Rhodes aca­demic over an ear­lier ar­ti­cle ques­tion­ing the Church’s stand on land.

Some South Africans have to live by a higher stan­dard in cer­tain de­bates. These in­clude those in po­si­tions of re­spon­si­bil­ity (es­pe­cially with the abil­ity to in­flu­ence oth­ers through tra­di­tional or so­cial me­dia), as well as through pol­icy pro­pos­als to gov­ern­ment.

Those de­bates need deep and ex­ten­sive re­search – not more fuel.

Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s over­time bill is among the on­go­ing items that comes up re­peat­edly in coun­cil meet­ings. It was raised in this month’s In­fra­struc­ture and Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices com­mit­tee meet­ing, with coun­cil­lors not­ing that one depart­ment had claimed close to R1 mil­lion in over­time in three months.

‘They are milking this over­time to earn a sec­ond salary. There is no money for ser­vice de­liv­ery but there is money for over­time!’

The out­rage would be en­cour­ag­ing if this weren’t a re­cur­ring theme.

Like the bro­ken ve­hi­cles af­fect­ing staff’s abil­ity to re­spond to tech­ni­cal prob­lems (only two ve­hi­cles in Water and San­i­ta­tion were op­er­a­tional) ex­ces­sive over­time is like that ridicu­lous cir­cu­lar song, ‘There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza’.

Liza re­sponds, ‘Well fix, it dear Henry.’ In a string of com­plaint-and-an­swer in­ter­ac­tions, Liza pro­vides so­lu­tions to each prob­lem Henry comes up with, un­til in a ter­ri­ble cir­cle of in­ac­tion and un­re­source­ful­ness, Henry gets back to his orig­i­nal com­plaint: ‘There’s a hole in my bucket.’

Two, three, four years af­ter the ex­ces­sive over­time prob­lem was first raised, there’s still a hole in the bucket.

Be­cause most prob­lems have been at­trib­uted to the lack of a per­ma­nent ac­count­ing of­fi­cer (ie no con­ti­nu­ity), the pres­sure is now on the new mu­nic­i­pal man­ager to fix the hole in that bucket.

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