‘Corruption crippling SA’

2019-01-14 16:38
DA deputy provincial chairperson Craig Millar believes corruption and cadre deployment are crippling service delivery in this country.

DA deputy provincial chairperson Craig Millar believes corruption and cadre deployment are crippling service delivery in this country. (Nokuthula Ntuli)

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Corruption and cadre deployment have had catastrophic consequences for service delivery because the majority of people given positions are not “fit for purpose”.

DA deputy provincial chairperson Craig Millar blames the awarding of positions based on political affiliation and lack of proper oversight for the disappointing state of service delivery in this country.

Millar has been a councillor for Hilton — under uMngeni Local Municipality — since 2011 and is a member of the social and economic development portfolio committee.

He has been vocal on the failure by  the government — across all spheres — to honour its commitment by delivering the services that South Africans deserve.

He said the biggest cancer that was rapidly eroding good governance in this country was corruption.

“We often hear that there’s no money for this and no money for that but I don’t buy that. The reason there’s no money is often corruption or things related to corruption but we have seen it too many times where the ruling party simply turns a blind eye because of the political context.”

He used uMngeni as an example saying the municipality lost electricity worth between R60 and R80 million every year. This is due to theft, illegal connections and the bypassing of meters.

Millar said that funds lost could be directed to other service delivery programmes, including upgrading the electricity infrastructure or connecting those who were not on the grid.

“We have a situation where service delivery is sacrificed on the altar of votes and I have to ask, are we that kind of people who are prepared to sell our vote for that?

“Yes, some people do need assistance like free basic services and that’s why we have an indigent programme but that’s not a problem because we get an equitable share from the national government for that,” said Millar.

He said the people who suffered the most, as the result of poor governance and corruption, were the ratepayers and the poor.

He said the rates were particularly high because the municipalities were trying to make up for the services that were stolen, while the poor sometimes did not get the services at all.

“The water and electricity are going up — not because they have to — because they are mismanaged so the municipalities are trying to get as much money as they can from those that are paying to make up for the theft.”

Millar said this was unsustainable as it negatively affected the local economy as well as the values of properties and made life unaffordable for people like retirees.

Millar said municipalities were supposed to be run like businesses where trade services generated revenue for the cities but that was not the case.

He said most municipalities in the province were limping financially because they are collecting less than what they were paying when buying electricity from Eskom and water from companies like Umgeni Water.

“Sadly, this has become the norm because the people who are responsible for the relevant department and the political leadership are not held accountable.”

He said this resulted in the municipalities taking funds allocated to other projects or digging into their reserves to make ends meet.

“You just have to take a look at the condition of our streets and public facilities to see that municipalities are stealing from Peter to pay Paul because budgets for things like maintenance are being cut to make up for the failure in collecting revenue,” said Millar.

While he did not criticise the policies of the ANC, Millar said the governing party’s biggest problem was the failure to implement them. He said the factionalism had resulted in the policy paralysis.

He said there was also no consequence for non-implementation because the majority of the managers were deployed cadres who didn’t even have the capacity to do the jobs they were given. “In the private sector when you fail to implement the company policy you will be sent packing but the ruling party has shown that it will rather protect the cadres than its credibility.”

While he commended the provincial government for taking action where there were issues of irregular expenditure and corruption, Millar said the recent cases smacked of internal ANC fights spilling into government.

He said a demand for accountability should be a consistent feature not something that was used to settle political scores. 

WHO IS CRAIG MILLAR?

Millar is known for speaking his mind even though it gets him into trouble sometimes. He believes it’s better to tell the truth because lies often breed more lies.

He is originally from Durban but has lived in Hilton for almost a decade. During his days as a pupil at Durban High School, he was an activist for the End Conscription Campaign.

He said the apartheid government sent a military team to his school to get copies of the pupils’ identity documents and tell them where they would be going for military service.

Millar was called up while in matric but he didn’t go. “I just ignored it. There was no way I was going — I didn’t believe in their cause … I come from a very liberal family so my eyes were opened at a very young age … I wasn’t buying the apartheid propaganda,” he said.

Millar has lived in several countries, including Namibia and Russia, but for him South Africa is home so he always came back.

“I lived in both countries while they were going through transition — Namibia had just gotten its independence — and that gave me a nice perspective of my own country.”

Before becoming a councillor in 2011, he owned a safari company and travelled extensively in the southern African sub-region.

“That experience helped me get a good understanding of different cultures.”

The father of two said his daughters were the reason he got up every morning. He said he wanted to leave a legacy for them. “I want them to be proud of me and say that their dad was part of building a better South Africa for all”.

Millar has applied to represent the DA at national Parliament after this year’s general elections. His goal for 2019 is to see the ANC achieving less than 50% in the elections. He believes this is possible as more and more people were getting tired of being fed empty promises and wanted credible governance.

WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT MILLAR?

Millar might have two left feet but that doesn’t stop him from getting up when any good song comes through the speakers. He listens to a lot of South African house and gqom music. Some of his favourite artists include Black Coffee, Micasa and Mafikizolo.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

• The first time you realised you wanted to become a public representative?

Shortly after becoming a father for the first time I realised that there was more at stake for the future of our country than I had even realised. I made a decision then to get involved rather than comment from the sidelines.

• The first music record you ever bought and when was this?

Babylon by Bus — Bob Marley 1984.

• The first time you got silly drunk?

I have never been silly drunk. Jokes aside, I think the weekend after I wrote my last matric exam. Then again after we got our results. Lol!

• The first time you blew your paycheque frivolously?

I am a very practical person so I can’t say I have ever blown it frivolously — unless you count camping gear as frivolous?

• The first time a politician made you mad?

In August 1985 P.W. Botha announced in his “rubicon” speech in my hometown of Durban that Nelson Mandela would not be released and that the Nats were pushing on with apartheid.

• The first worst haircut you had was?

Difficult one — it’s between the pudding bowl cut from my mom and the convict brush cut from my dad. They were both awful and I am glad there was no social media back then.                 • The first time you won at anything?

Five-a-side football tournament playing centre forward for Glenwood FC ... 1978. I was top goal scorer of the tournament — mostly due to excellent passing from Andrew Purnell at 10, it must be said.

• The first time you threw a punch and meant it?

SA Karate Championships in Johannesburg 1983.

• The first thing you’d do if you became invisible?

Pay a visit to the Guptas with a recording device to find out where our money is.

• The first time you were starstruck?

Meeting one of my alma mata from Durban High School, SA Cricket legend Barry Richards.

• The first thing you would do if you woke up as a woman?

Ha ha ha I am not answering that.

• The first karaoke song you always want to sing?

Kenny Rogers — The Gambler.

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