Costly delays

2009-03-02 00:00

Last week a Democratic Alliance councillor in the uMngeni Municipality took the unconventional step of using a call to a phone-in programme on national radio to draw the attention of a national minister to a completely unacceptable situation in that municipality. In mid-2007, problems in uMngeni were such that provincial local government MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu ordered a forensic investigation. In July 2008 the forensic report was handed to the municipal council by the MEC’s office, with an instruction that it must be tabled for discussion at a full council meeting. Some seven months later this has not yet been done. Whether the delay is due to sheer incompetence or whether the ANC-led council executive is dragging its feet because it has something to hide is a moot point, but the report is supposed to be a public document: the public has a right to know what is in it and as long as it is withheld the problems in uMngeni cannot be rectified.

In somewhat similar vein, AfriForum Youth and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) have taken up the matter of the delayed release of the final set of 2008 matric results. Some 56 000 candidates, 17 000 in this province, did not receive their results in the December publication. Cheating and irregularities have been blamed, but the findings of a task team have compelled even education minister Naledi Pandor and the national department to concede that incompetence and the neglect of duty by departmental officials have contributed to the problem.

In the meantime, 56 000 young people across the country cannot move ahead with their lives. Limited job opportunities are fast being filled while classes in further and higher education are already under way. Well may the HRC involve itself, for these youngsters’ rights have truly been trampled on and there should be damages to pay. And that, as with so many other cases, means that yet again it will be the public that bears the cost of bureaucratic incompetence and deceit.

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