Every time I read an article about a murder or some other crisis in a government department or municipality I ask myself whether things are really falling apart and whether the public should panic.
We read that we don’t have doctors and nurses in some hospitals, about new babies dying and corpses being left lying among patients. We read about books not arriving at schools and dumped. We read about millions of people crossing our borders from the northern, eastern and western regions of the continent for a new life. We read about corruption of millions involving government employees and contractors. We read about the president’s safe retirement retreat. We read about the luxury cars of officials and overseas trips and expensive hotels. We read the terrible stories about young men on drugs raping and mutilating young girls and I worry about the young boys and girls in our families. We read about old people being mutilated and raped and left to die. The news emits the putrid smell of rotten meat every day.
Are the media trying to clean up public governance by inciting a feeling of gloom amongst the readers, are they trying to discredit certain people or must people start preparing for a government doomsday and institutional meltdowns. Are the reports revealing the truth or are we being falsely hoodwinked with exaggeration?
How can we reliably find out whether the rot is setting in? If the rot is setting in what is it that we can do to help to turn the situation around? The public must get the true facts about failures and non-conformances in every government institution and the reasons for it. Only then can we assess the gravity of the situation and determine what rehabilitation steps are needed.
If the Department of Communication could team up and collaborate with the director general of public administration, statistics, the auditor general and the public protector, they can set up a website which hosts a performance scorecard for every government institution and body that renders a direct service to the public. A public performance scorecard for every department, every hospital, every school and every police station on the web will allow the public to monitor and evaluate performance directly and continuously. When performance trends in critical performance areas indicate decline, failure and ruin, only then will we need to panic and make things work for ourselves like starting to operate our own schools, hospitals, neighbourhood watch teams, power generators and boreholes.