Chronicles of Cliff: Barnacles who cling to creaking ships

2013-08-05 10:00

It is often unfairly said that those who can’t do, teach.

That statement is neither kind nor true. But what I can say without much equivocation is that those who cannot do, become career ­politicians.

Sometimes they just don’t know when their time is up.

They hang on long after their sell-by date, clinging like barnacles to the hull of a creaking ship.

The situation in Tlokwe illustrates rather well how ex-mayor Maphetle Maphetle (so good you have to say it twice) felt so entitled to his government job and office that, despite a superior court ruling being brought to bear against him, he decided to hang on to his office like dog poo clings to a blanket.

He thought the job was his, regardless of an election and some of his own party members voting against him.

No argument could dissuade him from occupying his perilous perch.

Even the instructions of the ANC in North West couldn’t budge him.

How dare these politicians – many of whom couldn’t find real jobs or make a living outside of politics and who siphon from the National Treasury for their sustenance – assume they own a position or an office?

What incredible, insufferable arrogance compels an elected official to disregard the fact that his or her tenure is temporary, and to assume the winds of change are barred from unseating them?

That the annoying DA had to take this former mayor to court to make him do the right thing is outrageous.

If he had even a little wit, charm or sophistication, the ex-mayor would have slunk away like the deployed cadre he is, to wait for his chance to turn up in another position of sheltered employment within the bureaucracy.

Not him. He fought tooth and nail.

Part of the reason he did this is because he doesn’t really have anything else he can do or is very good at.

There’s no space to go into too detailed an assessment of his term as mayor, but it suffices to say that he’s no shining star.

This is probably the best job Maphetle will ever have. Of course he wants to hold on to it.

This is the impasse to which deployment and party loyalty above merit and hard work have brought us.

While many more senior deployed cadres not only deserve their posts, and even add enormous value to them, further down the hierarchy the less skilled and less intelligent officials find ­employment and succour in the offices of countless bankrupt ­municipalities and maladministered parastatals.

The worst part of this ugly situation is that our president nurtures and coddles the inefficient status quo because it suits him.

He prizes loyalty above competence and puts political survival ahead of public service.

As long as this remains the ­priority, we’re in for more barnacles, and the creaking, leaking ship will be sailed ever nearer the rocks.

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