Lazy, arrogant civil servants are failing the government – Makhura

Premier David Makhura delivers his state of the province address. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24
Premier David Makhura delivers his state of the province address. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has spoken out very strongly against highly paid but incompetent government officials who fail to deliver basic services to residents.

An emotional Makhura was addressing a gala dinner at Gallagher Estate, Midrand, after his state of the province address on Monday. He also used the occasion to express his relief that Cyril Ramaphosa had taken over the presidency. Gauteng has always been known for its critical stance towards former president Jacob Zuma.

“You know how unhappy I am about officials who have big titles but who don’t appreciate what those titles entail. These are officials who get paid lots of money but who don’t appreciate what that money should mean in getting things done.”

Makhura said they were failing to ensure that business people who did work for government were paid on time.

Makhura said South African civil servants were among the most highly paid in the world.

“In this country civil servants are not paid peanuts. They get paid lots of money. Go to Zimbabwe if you want to understand how much they earn. Go to many Africa countries, even countries in Latin America, Asia etc. Civil servants are paid well here, but half the time they think it is an entitlement.”

Makhura accused some officials of demanding kickbacks before they paid suppliers on time.

“Many officials carry heavy titles and in law they have lot of authority. But few of them appreciate what it means. In addition, some of them, when a service provide is to be paid, they want to get a cut from that. That is why they can’t process these invoices. It is a sense of entitlement.”

In a heartfelt speech, the Gauteng premier said the Life Esidimeni saga, in which more than 140 mental health patients died after the provincial health department decided to transfer them to ill-equipped non-governmental organisations, had taught him a lesson – to be hands on.

“Back to Esidimeni, some of them think our people owe them something. The way they conduct themselves. We saw it on our TVs. In Esidimeni some of them carry the title of doctor but the way they carry themselves [is disappointing] ... The level of arrogance meted against vulnerable people ... People who have mental illnesses and can’t do anything for themselves.”

He voiced his frustration at the fact that he was commended for great speeches, but was often reminded that only part of it would actually be implemented.

“Esidimeni is just a metaphor. It happens in many areas outside mental health. People always complain. They say: ‘You say these things, Premier. Your speeches are nice. We like them, but things are not happening as fast. The premier speeches are great, but a lot of these things are not getting done.”

“These MECs get frustrated. We sit together in the lekgotla and work out plans. And the MECs come back to me to report. They report every six weeks, saying: Premier that target that we set on this or that did not happen because officials in the department [did] this and that.”

He was, however, complimentary of those civil servants who went beyond the call of duty to deliver services to residents.

“So before all officials who are doing their work think we are in trouble, I want to appreciate officials who do their work. Give them a big round of applause. They are not few. There are many officials who sweat their heart out and some of them I know them. One thing Life Esidimeni has done with me is that I am getting my hands on the whole machinery of government. I am going into every department now. And I am discovering great officials.

“Sometimes I phone them directly when I need something. And sometimes the MECs are unhappy that I speak directly to them. So we do have officials in the Gauteng administration who are outstanding, capable and committed. A lot of them ethical individuals. I want us to work together, colleagues, to build a great province. People of this province expect nothing less than a great province from us.”

Makhura concluded his remarks by speaking about how happy he was that Ramaphosa was now in charge.

“I am very happy, very fired up. Very relieved by the fact that we have a president like Cyril Ramaphosa. I don’t know about you. Maybe happy is an understatement. I am very relieved,” he said to loud applause.

“[As Gauteng] we used to carry the burden of the whole country. To try and raise the mood of the country. Every time I would come across people saying: ‘Premier help us raise the mood. Help us feel good.’ So I was a kind of a psychologist. People saying we are so depressed. I am very relieved that that’s no longer my responsibility.”

Rapule Tabane
Politics editor
City Press
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9001  e:
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