The reign of poverty and corruption

2014-03-26 00:00

POVERTY, blatant corruption and waste of public resources are things that need to be tackled with urgency, says Nottingham Road resident Lesley Hannaway.

Hannaway, a mother of two and an office administrator at a fuel and gas company in Nottingham Road, said the government must curb the squandering of public money and direct those resources to the people who need them the most, the poor.

“Seeing children coming to the fuel depot and realising that the price of paraffin has increased, is heart breaking,” she said.

She said many poor families were already under heavy financial stress and the poor were worse off.

“Petrol is going up, that means all the things associated, such as food, are going to increase. Many people around here still use paraffin. They will come here to buy and they do not know that the price of paraffin has increased … and they will ask you when the price changed.”

“There are people who live in poverty and squalor and yet we see and read every day of the money that has been stolen through corruption or the money that has been misused. What angers me most is the blatant corruption in all aspects of government,” she said.

Hannaway said the money meant to serve the community was being diverted elsewhere, leaving the cities to rot with collapsing infrastructure.

“Our once-beautiful cities are disgustingly dirty and there is never enough money to repair our roads and deliver basic services. Our poor are getting poorer while government officials abuse the money meant to uplift them

“I recently visited Pietermaritzburg and the city is very dirty with rubbish everywhere …”

She said as part of curbing unnecessary spending, the government should control wages. “I think the policy makers get paid way too much and I would be telling the voters that the salaries of the senior politicians will be cut.”

Hannaway said the parties competing in the May 7 election should prioritise the fight against corruption and poverty. “Every party has the ability to fight that … but I also think that the ruling party is very capable if they put their minds to it.”

DA response

Tackling corruption doesn’t require a whole lot of new laws. But what is very necessary is a complete ban on all government officials and their families doing business with the state.

Reducing corruption comes down to political will — the will to implement and enforce requirements which already exist in the Municipal Finance Management Act and the Provincial Finance Management Act.

Every year, the Auditor-General reports on departments and municipalities where officials fail to declare their and their families’ business interests. This failure to declare is in itself an offence. The fact that these individuals have not made the necessary declarations results in that expendi­ture being classified as irregular.

This is called non-compliance and depending on the amount and extent of the problem it can see the department or municipality being given a qualified audit. Where the political will exists these officials would be punished or dismissed, and more importantly senior management would put in place checks to ensure that the non-compliance is detected and acted upon sooner.

IFP response

Like Lesley Hannaway and millions of South Africans, the IFP has also highlighted poverty, blatant corruption and the waste of public resources as the burning issues facing our country. That is why the IFP’s top four priorities are: improving service delivery, upgrading education, providing jobs and tackling the scourge of corruption. The first three mentioned, of course, all tackle poverty.

The pervasive, blatant corruption committed over the past 20 years is a major cause of poverty. State-owned enterprises and departments cannot function because their resources are stolen to advance the political and financial interests of the elite.

The IFP is proud of its four decades of clean government. We have never had a charge of corruption levelled at us.

To briefly highlight some of the IFP policies that deal with Lesley Hannaway’s concerns, we will investigate all cases of corruption and prosecute offenders in a specially mandated corruption court. We will fire all law-enforcement officers and public servants involved in corruption.

Our policies are a blueprint for sound management of public resources, particularly at local level: we will professionalise municipal management and employ only qualified and honest officials; hold municipal managers to their targets under threat of dismissal; and join forces with local communities to build houses and infrastructure.

MF response

The Minority Front supports the readers’ concerns 100%. Corruption is a cancer that is deep rooted and is rapidly spreading. The only way the government can curb corruption is to develop stricter controls in the supply chain management policies at all spheres of government.

Currently the primary loophole in the supply chain policy are “goods to be procured in an emergency”. The Minority Front is of the view that nothing suddenly pops up as an emergency if the respective government departments are consistently monitoring and evaluating projects and targeted outcomes systematically.

Officials or public representatives and their families who are found to be doing business with the state must be dismissed for exploitation and abusing taxpayers’ monies. Criminal charges must also be levelled against these officials and public representatives.

The Minority Front is calling on government to name and shame these people who tend to show total disregard for its citizens.

Every tender must be carefully scrutinised in respect of the directorship and the defaulting companies and individuals must be blacklisted.

More funding must be prioritised into programmes for the indigent, including skills development. Government must create a conducive environment at all levels for SMME’s and make certain that funding is appropriated within the necessary.

* The ANC and NFP did not respond in time for our deadline.

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