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Dismanagement in the South African Public Service

21 April 2014, 19:30

I have enough experience of the public services of SA, both as a contributor and as a recipient of service.

Management is often the recipient of ridicule and humiliation dished out by politically appointed elite – a well-known example will be the minister of sports diatribe on Bafana Bafana’s loss to Nigeria in the 2014 African Nations Championships.  (The five zip drubbing by Brazil? I guess the cat got his tongue). 

Of course this was a public comment, covered widely in the media.  This generally received favourable support from the public.  But did everyone forget that this man is the highest authority for sports in this country? 

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that that type of language is unprofessional, indeed unacceptable and frankly vulgar.

What goes on behind the scenes in South African Government entities is by and large a secret.  The internal secrecy is entrenched, through a change in culture. 

The new culture has been injected by the current ruling party, mostly over the last decade it has been in power.  And it has progressively deteriorated to its current levels.  It is a culture of mistrust and more significantly of fear. 

It can be seen manifest within general staff circles, and particularly in management.  The board rooms and executive meetings are often driven by blatant rudeness and profanity.  I have imagined a video of these sessions, filmed without their knowledge, will send shock waves through the nation.  (Rumour has it that the exiled cadre had a similar culture?).

A cursory glance into the number of internal staff movements in management in a given financial year, that take place in government entities, will generally reveal a high level of volatility.  Now one can begin to grasp at the inability of these entities to perform.  There is certainly no management stability, let alone continuity and control.  The fundamental reason, as explained previously is due to Dismanagement. 

Looking into the matter of poor performance a little closer, one will notice that there are also an excessive number of Chiefs, and not enough Indians.  Well, that in its self should not result in the levels degradation we see in the SA public service.  Even in first world countries we do note this phenomenon of excessive Chiefing. 

So, what is different with us?  And the answer is Ancism – commonly and loving called Cadre Deployment, and usually called nepotism by common folk.  Hmm… But again, that in itself should not result in the levels of degradation we see in SA. 

So, what is the underlying reason?  Well, it is called a Caldislaw.  Caldislaw – A callous disregard for the law.  Cadre deployment will not be as serious problem, if, one deploys said cadre to a position within his or her scope of education, knowledge, qualification, experience, skill and competency. 

But no – the SA paradigm is to take a junior technician and place him as Senior Technical Engineer.  After all, he must be given the ‘opportunity to eat’.  This leads to the widespread pathos seen in the public service. 

Those who know a little, steer the country.   I trust, dear reader, you will have some of your own illustrious examples of cadre deployment.

But are all these deployments done through political interference?  Oh, no.  South Africa has overcome this problem, through a rigorous new apartheid program gracefully sold to the UN in the guise of BEE. 

Like Apartheid, BEE has excellent and noble intentions.  But it’s DNA is just as evil, dehumanising, and brutally racist as its more famous and older brother.  BEE is still very young, and thus comparatively innocent; i.e. in comparison to its late older brother. 

But, please, give it a couple more decades to get sophisticated through ongoing improvements.

There was a time when one went into a government entity and came across numerous white South Africans.  Where are they now?  Within 20 years into democracy, they have become a novelty. 

But surely, you would have retained those with skills to pass on, knowledge workers?  Nope, got rid of them and re-hired them as contractors.  Well, at least they got to laugh to the bank. 

But at the expense of the poor non-politically connected people of all races.

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