Public?servants,?public services

2013-11-13 10:00

Would a government official’s child be in this classroom?

Can we ever have a public service that delivers adequate quality services to the people?

This question is important, given the disaster we have seen in the past 20 years of ANC rule, which has been characterised by promises, lies and a degenerating public service.

The root cause of poor public service in South Africa is neocolonialism.

Almost all African countries have experienced neocolonialism – our leaders who fought against the whites in the name of liberation took power only to become the new whites and proceeded to use the state for their own benefit.

In the case of South Africa, the ANC continued the process of privatisation started by the National Party and thereby created a neo-apartheid defined by two societies in one: one rich and predominantly white, served by an expensive but efficient private sector; the other predominantly black and poor, condemned to a dysfunctional public service.

We find politicians in the rich section serviced by the private sector.

Things are falling apart in the public sector and the quality of services provided to our people is at times worse than what was provided under apartheid, which alludes to the structural nature of the problem.

When the ANC decided to give blacks RDP houses, which are in many cases far worse than the apartheid era’s four-roomed “matchbox” houses, it demonstrated an acceptance of the logic of white supremacy that blacks are subhuman.

Judging from the response to the superficial electioneering “budget cuts” announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, we can also say our leaders have adopted the cynicism of white colonialists.

This is the same mentality that led Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to tell the people of Bekkersdal that the ANC doesn’t want their “dirty votes”.

Gordhan’s measures are a populist posture and will not deal with the problem of poor public services.

If he was serious, he would have torn down the Ministerial Handbook – the policy booklet that legalises theft by our ministers from the public purse.

Equally, measures announced by Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu are merely scratching the surface and wasting money.

No civil servants’ charter or school will change the fundamental problem, which is the neo-apartheid nature of our political system.

Only a fundamental change of politics will end the disaster we are faced with.

If we don’t achieve this change, we must prepare for more militant action of more brutal suppression by the state, including massacres.

So what must be done to avert the move to a proper democratic tyranny?

The Economic Freedom Fighters and the September National Imbizo (SNI) have proposed that to transform the current status quo from one of neglect of the public sector to one of quality services for all, a law must be made that compels politicians and their dependants to use public services.

According to this proposal, it would be a criminal offence for politicians to go to or to take their children to private facilities such as schools and hospitals.

The guiding principle is that a politician must use the service they give to the people.

We need to imagine a scenario where Mokonyane is forced to face the conditions of Chris Hani Barangwanath Hospital when she’s sick.

Compelling politicians to use the services they are elected and paid to provide would serve as a stamp of confidence on the service they deliver.

If politicians imagine an RDP house fit for the people, then they must live in one.

Some have objected to this by saying it violates freedom of choice.

But that’s like saying a medical doctor has a constitutional right to give shoddy services.

People become doctors of their own free will but are bound by the Hippocratic Oath, which compels them to adhere to certain standards and principles.

If a doctor breaks the ethics of the practice, they face both discipline and possible expulsion from practising medicine.

Why can’t the same apply to politicians who make life and death decisions that affect millions of people?

The SNI has proposed a Sankara Oath for politicians, which compels them to provide quality service.

This oath is inspired by Thomas Sankara, the late president of Burkina Faso, who lived by setting an example.

He removed all the perks that came with political office. He even rode a bicycle to Parliament, having sold all the Mercedes-Benzes and made the cheapest car the official vehicle for all.

In four short years, that country provided excellent services for all, including food security.

Today, the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, who is known as the “world’s poorest president”, donates 90% of his salary to the poor and refuses to stay in the state house.

Instead, he lives in an ordinary house with no bodyguards and drives an old VW Beetle. Mujica makes one want to cry when we think about our own president and his excesses.

Politicians must use public services. It’s possibly the only real solution to the crisis we face in the public service.

But for this to work, we need a new breed of politicians who carry within them the spirit of?Sankara.

»?Mngxitama is the EFF’s head of international relations

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