Incompetence is "normal'

2012-02-07 12:11

Every year the Auditor General issues a report on how the state is managing its limited resources and every year the report looks horrible.

This year's report says only 8% of National Departments received unqualified audit opinion. So 92% of them do not comply with legislation enacted to ensure efficient use or management of State resources.

Funds disappear; tenders awarded irregularly, funds returned to treasury while the people are in desperate need of services, departments overspending/under spending.

It gets even worse when a State organ cannot produce certain tender documentation for review suggesting that the State institution did not follow proper tendering processes when releasing the tender.

Or it could mean that the tenders were awarded to certain individuals with political connections but we will never know as the documents cannot be found.

It is encouraging to note that the Finance Minister is leading the way in investigating these tender deals but this seems to be happening in Limpopo. Why doesn't the Presidency take action against the National Departments that performed poorly? Maybe he is satisfied with their performance hence the argument is that incompetence is normal.

While the national departments failed, the Gauteng and Western Cape administrations managed to comply with the Public Finance Management Act, perhaps cabinet ministers could learn a thing or two from the Provincial Ministers.

This trend of National Departments and other public entities not managing our hard earned tax money as they should, with no meaningful consequences is worrying.

The lack of accountability in most public institutions requires urgent attention from civil society, the legislature and the executive sphere of government but all we see is talk and no action with the comrades occupying offices that continue to misuse public funds. For money to leave a public account, someone must have authorised the payment so the State must recover that money and the comrade responsible for its disappearance must be punished.

When the executive fails to perform, the legislature must hold cabinet accountable. When both of them fail to perform their duties then the voters must hold them accountable on the ballot.

But the ballot comes once every 5 years so should we just watch the public office bearers misusing our money, getting salaries every month with benefits such as the 13th cheque for mismanaging the limited State resources?

Of course any member of the public may take action against any public office bearer for abusing state funds but imagine a typical Limpopo villager trying to obtain financial reports from the provincial administration, do the people in the village even know who they need to speak to in order to obtain a copy of the annual reports and budgets?

If they get the reports and budgets, how many of them can read? apparently South Africa's illiteracy rate is higher than Zimbabwe's so the masses only hear about the millions a local municipality has allocated for a particular project on the news, the billions a province will spend on education but they don’t really go back to the municipality or provincial department to check if the funds were spent on what they were meant for.

If they did, this would reflect on election results in the next elections. So how do the voters hold an administration accountable when they do not really know how their money is spent or what it is spent on?

The Eastern Cape Department of Education returned funds to treasury, we complained. The following year they overspent by over a billion rand. Perhaps the education department has failed to produce good accountants.

There is also the Home Affairs department which received its first clean audit in 16 years, encouraging but why did it take them this long? And must we wait this long for others to do the same?

Why can’t the president fire the Ministers with departments that mismanage state resources if he genuinely wants to lead an accountable administration? You want an administration that accounts for its actions or lack thereof so as leader of the executive, create such. It is that simple.

He can hire and fire without reason so I assume a qualified audit or an adverse audit opinion for a department would be enough to warrant a dismissal but there are other issues to consider; issues such as the political implications this would have, proving once more that politicians only care about power. Funny how the political systems were designed to maintain order in society but have somewhat become responsible for all the chaos we have had to live with.

If one cannot do the job, I fail to see why such a person should occupy a post and continue wasting public funds. The head of the executive must take action against those who fail to perform.

What happened to the performance contracts? The President seriously needs to start working on forming an accountable executive instead of preaching about accountability.

The Premiers also need to do the same if we are to see improved service delivery; and play their supervisory roles on the municipal administrations in their provinces to ensure that services are delivered efficiently or else we will continue hearing about service delivery protests.

17 years is a very long time, so by now we should be seeing more action and less talk about delivery but we still have people without clean drinking water. The executive, legislature and civil society must play their roles to improve the quality of our democracy. Improved governance will surely lead to the better life for all.

The public hires the executive to deliver and the executive must do so, if not then the public should fire the executive. If I hire you to polish my shoes, then I want to see my shoes polished; I don’t want to see you enjoying your benefits while my shoes are not polished.

Therefore, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal residents should start using their ballot papers to fire an incompetent and corrupt administration.

Rewarding an unaccountable administration with your vote simply means you are happy with them misusing your money thus you should not toi toi for services when you continue voting for the incompetent and corrupt administration that fails to account for its action or lack thereof on two consecutive electoral terms.

There has to be a commitment from each department to improve their management of public funds, if not then there must be consequences for that but sadly the State seems to have accepted incompetence as normal but still pays the incompetent comrades every month even though the Auditor General and Parliament have for years complained about the skills or lack thereof in the public service. If you want a Cardiologist, you hire a Cardiologist not a Dentist. Perhaps there must be standards for every accounting officer of a State institution, this way you won’t end up with an Engineer reporting to a Mayor with a Grade 9 School leaving report.

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