ANC won’t walk its talk

AT a recent New Age business briefing, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle, Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa and the two new metro mayors, Danny Jordaan and Alfred Mtsi, put on a less than convincing show regarding their claims of a turnaround in administrative and political performance in the province and its two metro municipalities.

There is something supremely ironic about a government that has systematically led all three spheres of government away from “basic” administrative and governance principles and practices through the implementation of cadre deployment over a period of 21 years now wanting to go “back to basics”.

This irony is all the more reinforced by Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Jordaan saying that “political interference from outside the official administrative structures of the NMBM will not be tolerated”. He went on to say that “the administration of the metro will not be undermined by external interference” and “if anyone phones the municipal manager from outside the metro to give instructions, they will be in trouble!”

First of all in this regard, Jordaan would do well to remember that his appointment was as a direct result of external interference by Luthuli House. His appointment is an archetypal example of “cadre deployment” by a government that refuses to hold its loyal public representatives and civil servants to account, and chooses rather to deploy and redeploy them, than to ensure that there are consequences to non-performance.

So Jordaan would do well to remember the adage that says what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

The greatest irony though at this very partisan event (local DA councillors only received their invitations to attend the event the day before, minutes before the deadline to RSVP) was that both the premier and the MEC claimed that the event marked the “end of political instability” and that “heads will roll” where non-performance and poor service delivery were the order of the day. Their and the ANC’s credibility in this regard is in tatters for a whole range of reasons, as history shows that those cadres whose heads should have rolled haven’t.

The recent redeployment of certain councillors from Buffalo City, implicated in the Nelson Mandela funeral fraud scam, and certain councillors responsible for service delivery collapse in the NMBM to the National Council of Provinces and the provincial legislature belie this claim. Their claims that “they are swift to act” ring hollow in the ears of those who experience the exact opposite in this regard.

In fact the ANC has become renowned for shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic while the country is “listing” dangerously.

Xasa also used the Makana Municipality as an example of the ANC acting against people responsible for wrongdoing. Unless I’ve missed something, no one that I know of has been held responsible or fired or prosecuted for the parlous state of affairs in this crippled municipality.

As for forensic audits being used to get to the bottom of maladministration and corruption, these selfsame people have become notorious for their non-action against those implicated in wrongdoing. The Kabuso and Pikoli reports have not been acted upon, and the national Treasury investigation into the now notorious IPTS bus service in Port Elizabeth has also not led to anyone being held to account despite the wasteful expenditure of hundreds of millions of rands.

Perhaps the issue of greatest irony and concern though is that the national Department of Human Settlements will not allocate its R1.4-billion housing grant to the NMBM’s housing directorate, due to its disastrous reputation of underperformance, maladministration and shameless corruption. Both the current and previous NMBM mayors have to date refused to investigate nor have they taken any action against those who preside over this state of affairs.

This despite the fact that certain officials allegedly come to work in bulletproof vests and flanked by bodyguards. (This status quo speaks volumes about the woeful situation in this directorate.)

In this regard, South Africans are starting to feel the consequences of corruption and maladministration in their everyday lives. These imposters are the enemy of fairness and opportunity in society, and they undermine the hard-won freedom of all South Africans.

I’d like to remind both Jordaan and Mtsi that they are not the first mayoral changes in their respective municipalities. In fact there have been so many over the past few years that it is difficult to keep count.

This in itself reinforces the fact that the ANC has little credibility in regard to fixing what is broken. The mayors should also be cognisant of the fact that their political bosses don’t tolerate independent thought and especially if this leads to any efforts at combating corruption.

The instability at local government level is not merely a municipal malaise, it is in fact a consequence of internal division and factionalism in the ANC. The situation at municipal level will not change as long as the ANC continues to allow the situation where former NMBM municipal manager Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela was hounded out of her post by ANC politicians who refused to be held to account.

This impasse didn’t only come at a cost of R3-million to the taxpayers, it caused even greater instability in the municipality.

Masualle, Xasa, Jordaan and Mtsi should also realise that if they expect the private sector to assist in turning the economic reality of this province and its major cities around, they will have to stop treating it with such disdain. They will also have to eradicate the policy ambiguity that prevails between the ANC’s support of the National Development Plan and the policies espoused by their alliance partners that are diametrically opposed to the NDP.

If the state of unemployment is not immediately addressed by both the state and the private sector, this country, province and these two cities will be faced with a very grave future.

No Sirs! As long as the current situation is allowed to prevail without any tangible evidence to the contrary, no one will believe the four of you.

The ANC leadership should know that if you build anything on a foundation of gold, it will sustain all scrutiny, if you build it on a foundation of straw, it cannot withstand any scrutiny.

Athol Trollip, Eastern Cape provincial leader