I’m not a happy person.
There is a malaise in governance in South Africa. Incompetence, laziness, corruption and even flat out malfeasance are rife and the people tasked to oversee matters and fix the situation are unable or unwilling to do so, or even part of the problem themselves. The first two things I’m going to mention are the main reasons for my unhappiness, but everything here points to a situation that’s appalling.
The Key School for autistics is closing down due to a lack of funding.
The school, based in Johannesburg, is one of the oldest establishments in the country for autistics and would have celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. It needed over R1 million to cover its debts and costs, but when it approached the Lottery Board with its request it was told that there was no money left. This is the same Lottery Board that funded an International “Youth Festival” that turned out to be a piss-up for the youth wings of various political parties from around the globe. Way to spend money on what’s really important, guys.
Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality lost the keys to its Licensing Office. No, that’s not a joke but the municipality is, methinks.
On Tuesday I was on leave, so I went to renew my vehicle’s licence disc. When I got to the licensing office it was shortly before 9 o’clock and the offices were closed despite the fact that they normally open at 8. When I asked, I was given the explanation above. I had things to do so left, thinking the offices would be opened by the time I returned. When I got back it was quarter past eleven and the offices were still closed. I was advised to go to the Post Office and renew my disc there. I did.
This fiasco should never have happened. There should be control of who has the keys to offices, a check-in check-out system so that keys aren’t lost and spare sets of keys for everything in case they are. This is not rocket science, it’s Administration 101 and yet the managers in the municipality appear not to know this basic stuff.
Sandringham High School teachers were given IOU’s in lieu of their salaries this month. When they challenged this they were told that there were no funds. It then emerged that there hasn’t been money for several months and the teachers’ pension funds had been raided to pay their salaries. That’s called fraud.
A company named Sanyati went bankrupt, costing 2500 workers their jobs, because the Orange Free State Provincial Government failed to pay what it owed. Johannesburg has a billing crisis, with people charged ludicrous amounts, properties given ridiculous valuations and penalties being levied even when payments are made on time.
Auditor-General Terence Nombembe has found that unbelievable amounts of rates and taxes have been squandered or embezzled. In addition, municipalities around the country owe the Auditor General’s office R180 million for auditing services. Their financial controls are so bad that they can’t pay what they owe as their funds have been wasted, lost or misappropriated.
In Limpopo, a non-governmental organisation named Section 27 took the national government to court after it emerged that some schools hadn’t had the prescribed textbooks delivered to them to force the government to do its job. Children have been without textbooks for seven months now. The textbooks were delivered after the court ruled, but when a follow-up check was done it turned out that not all schools in Limpopo had received them.
Despite the fact that South Africa has been a democracy since 1994, the government claimed that apartheid was responsible for the mess. This excuse has totally worn out and I’m fed up with it.
The town of Pilgrim’s Rest is owned by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government that maintains it as a tourist attraction and grants leases to businesses. In 2009, several businesses signed five year leases with the authorities. Earlier this month, they were given notice. For some reason, the leases were backdated to start in 2006. In addition, the businesses claim they weren’t notified that the leases were up for renewal. The businesses went to court to secure an urgent interdict, and the aforementioned and other irregularities led the Judge to rule in their favour. The government is now prohibited from evicting the businesses.
Humphrey Mmemedzi was the Gauteng Provincial Government MEC (Member of the Executive Council) for Housing and Local Government. Last year, his official vehicle was involved in an accident. The driver jumped a stop sign and crashed into Thomas Ferreira, a teenager riding a motorcycle. Ferreira was in a coma for months and now needs extensive physiotherapy. Despite assurances of compensation, no financial support has been forthcoming.
Mmemedzi was also found to have engaged in improper financial transactions, including purchasing a R10,000 painting from McDonald’s on his government credit card. He eventually resigned as MEC, but was allowed to retain his seat in the Gauteng Legislature. In most other countries he would have been forced to resign from government altogether and probably criminally charged.
Richard Mdluli was the former head of Crime Intelligence in the South African Police. After Bheki Cele was forced to resign over a building lease that was inflated to three times the normal price, Mdluli was considered. It then emerged that Mdluli was being investigated for defrauding the crime intelligence slush fund, for appointing relatives to positions in Crime Intelligence despite them lacking the necessary qualifications, and for murder. Pressure was applied to Glynnis Breytenbach, the prosecutor investigating Mdluli, to stop building her case. She refused and was then suspended. The Public Prosecutor’s Office claimed her suspension was over misconduct in a case involving the Kumba and Sishen mining companies. Breytenbach managed to get her disciplinary hearing opened to the press. Last week her lawyer, Wim Trengrove, was able to severely dent the case against her.
The treatment of Mdluli sets off alarm bells. How was he able to reach the position of Crime Intelligence head despite being suspected of murder? Why was he considered for Commissioner of the South African Police with all the questions about his fitness? Why was Glynnis Breytenbach suspended? And finally, is Mdluli being protected by high-ranking individuals?
I’m displeased. None of the above things should have occurred. There should be processes and procedures to make sure jobs get done. Controls should be implemented so that if problems arise, they can be detected and corrective action taken. If individuals are incompetent in their jobs, they should either be given remedial training or if necessary removed from their posts. If corruption or nepotism occur, the ones responsible should be fired and criminally charged if warranted. Yet the government at all three tiers (national, provincial and municipal) refuses to hold people responsible.
I read a letter to the press that said it best about these debacles. I’m paraphrasing a lot of it.
“You accepted the job and you allowed this culture of non-accountability to develop and continue unchecked.
It matters not if you inherited a mess from your predecessors. By blaming them, you point the finger back at your own inability to sort out that which you were appointed to put right or do properly.
As long as incompetence, corruption and misconduct are tolerated and foisted on the country because of perceived loyalties, political gamesmanship and nepotism, matters will continue to deteriorate.
Shut up, stop making excuses and do your jobs!”