Our Viewpoint | ‘Jobs for pals’ is undermining good governance everywhere

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Cadre deployment is amongst the biggest contributors to the collapse of good governance in South Africa.

Politicians, across political parties, want their people to manage departments and municipalities they govern.

While appointments in political offices such as that of mayors or ministers are based on the office bearers’ preferences, the expectation is that other officials should be appointed based on their qualifications but that’s often not the case.

After the change of leadership in municipalities following the November elections, many council leaders also changed the management in the affected municipalities.

The purge saw municipal managers, heads of departments, communications officers and even personal assistants being either fired or “redeployed” to other positions.

The new municipal top brass then hired their own people to fill these key positions.

This practice has been accepted as the norm in South African government even though there is documented evidence of how it has led to the dysfunctionality of municipal departments and entities where both unqualified and underqualified people have been appointed based on their political affiliation and not skills. Even the recruitment of the Durban Metro Police has been marred with alleged irregularities and nepotism.

The other “jobs for pals” practice that is crippling our government is the illegal recruitment process that is spearheaded by councillors. The allegations even spread to government initiatives such as the extended public works programme (EPWP), which is aimed at helping the poor put food on the table.

This, unfortunately, has been reduced to a rewards programme where members of leading political organisations are given these temporary jobs as a reward for their votes and volunteering in the party’s activities.

In some municipalities the nepotism also extends to family members and friends of the councillors tasked with compiling EPWP lists.

The latest allegations of nepotism came from both the ANC and DA last week when they accused each other of flouting recruitment policies in uMngeni and Msunduzi.

In uMngeni, the ANC says the DA never advertised the post of a manager in the office of the mayor. However, this is something that even the ANC doesn’t do in its own municipalities because of policies making these political appointments.

On the other hand, the DA in Msunduzi has accused the governing party of manipulating the recruitment process of over 100 general assistants. It is alleged that some ANC councillors submitted the list of names of candidates from their wards. Msunduzi says the allegations are false and the process was fair.

The public and the 16 000 applicants are no fools and they have seen enough evidence of cadre deployment around the country to conclude for themselves who is telling the truth.

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