Fixing South Africa's Ailing Public Services

2012-07-04 12:03

In response to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies leading their companies to financial ruin and bankers engaging in irresponsible lending and unethical practices, shareholders and the public alike have demanded accountability. This accountability has taken the form of these individuals not receiving bonuses, taking cuts in pay or in the case of Barclays Bank - their top triumvirate being shown the door.

Given the shoddy state of service delivery in South Africa from textbooks not getting to schools in Limpopo six months into the school year or the deplorable health facilities in the Eastern Cape perhaps it is time to enforce similar levels of accountability from civil servants and cabinet ministers. After all these do sign performance agreements where one would assume they have to accomplish certain tasks in a given financial year.

The problem is that there does not seem to be any punitive measures when these tasks are not crossed off.

Consider a discussion between President Zuma and our beloved Minister of Basic Education along the following lines, "Dear Angie, I know that you are trying but it is just not good enough. Those students in Limpopo deserve better. So there is no bonus for you and you lose a third of your salary. As for the DG, perhaps you need to find alternative employment!".

This, of course will not happen in reality. Mr. Zuma, is too concerned on retaining the leadership of the ANC to alienate the ANC Women's League, which the Minister of Basic Education happens to head.

The lack of accountability is the primary reason why South Africa's public services remains mired in crisis. The lack of decisive political leadership at the very top of government explains why mediocrity will continue to find a home in our civil service.


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