PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s decision to abstain from public discussion on matters of great public importance is reinforcing the view that South Africa has no decisive leadership.
Over the past several weeks, devastating criticisms have been levelled at several of the government’s most senior leaders.
The public protector, Thuli Madonsela, has released her final report on how key leaders wrongly consented to the signing of two dodgy leases to the tune of R1.78-billion for police buildings in Pretoria and Durban.
Her report makes it plain that, between them, the Minister of Public Works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, and police commissioner General Bheki Cele flouted regulations, ignored tender rules and seriously abused the trust placed in them to use public money wisely.
In Mahlangu-Nkabinde’s case, Madonsela specifically directed the president to take action. In Cele’s case, she called on the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, to act.
Zuma has not only failed to act, but has offered no explanation of how he intends to deal with this matter, showing contempt for Madonsela and for the public.
There are other signs that Zuma is failing to exercise presidential authority.
Three of his ministers have decided to challenge the ruling of the Competition Commission on Walmart in what can only be described as an act of immature political defiance against a government structure.
That a foreign investor can one week be allowed by a regulator appointed and regulated by the government to invest, only to find that the government challenging its own decision the next, is deeply perplexing.
That the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, is not part of this action suggests that it does not enjoy the support of Zuma’s entire cabinet.
It is worth asking if the absence of leadership has become so grave that Zuma no longer has authority over all his ministers.
Zuma’s strength is his ability to bring together those who disagree. His weakness is that he is unable to take a position which might alienate one or another member of the coalition that brought him to power in Polokwane.
Thus the ANC’s youth leader, Julius Malema, is able to say or do almost anything without consequences.
Left-leaning ministers who see foreign investors as evil imperialists are allowed to go to court to challenge decisions made by government bodies.
And appalling financial decisions such as those made by Cele and Mahlangu-Nkabinde go unpunished.
Zuma had better wake up to the fact that he is putting his weakness on display. He will not survive as leader unless he shows he has the mettle for the job.
@This is a draft leader for the Sunday Times
SOUTH African Airways is to go to court to recover some R31 million that it believes was spent without proper authorisation by former CEO, Khaya Ngqula.
The chair of the airline’s board, Cheryl Carolus said the money included some R27 million which Ngqula handed out to senior managers as “retention bonuses” and a further R3.8 million he spent on hospitality suites, junkets and the like.
Carolus’s move represents the first serious break with the long-standing tradition of punishing underperforming state functionaries with golden handshakes.
Ngqula left SAA with just such a handshake which cost the airline R8 million.
In the normal course of events, the departing miscreant’s files are left in an untidy pile next to the defunct photocopier on the stairwell.
Carolus is having none of this.
Based on an audit — which was commissioned by the previous board under then chairman Jakes Gerwel — she wants the public’s money back.
And so it should be.
The leadership of a corporation in as compromised a financial position as SAA should show a little modesty. Read More…
THE Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan has tabled a budget which is 8.6% larger than last year’s and perilously close to the R1 trillion mark at R907 billion.
This growth in spending will have to be financed by an economy which is only just stuttering into life after a damaging recession and so the tab is likely to be picked up once more by South Africa’s stressed out tax base.
The big increases in expenditure include the servicing of state debt which is up a massive 23,9 percent to R71 billion. This is alarming as the raison d’être of government’s fiscal policy over the last ten years has been to reduce debt servicing to increase capital spending with the aim of kickstarting growth.
Gordhan’s spending plan appears to have prioritised social spending on grants which is up by 13%, education which is up around 12 percent for schools and universities and “community development” – presumably the improvement of service delivery by local government — which is up by 20%.
There is more spending on the police (up 9.8%), housing (up by 11.2% and hospitals (up by over 11%).
All of this spending appears aimed at ameliorating the effects of our economy’s failure to delivery growth and jobs on a par with other developing nations.
Gordhan pointed out in his speech that South Africa needs to compete with other economies if it is to grow, but his budget seems to prepare us for failure.
Gordhan is confident that government is putting in place an industrial policy that will take us out of this cycle of negativity, but there are no signs that President Jacob Zuma is prepared to make the tough choices needed to go forward by cutting government spending and making investment less onerous.
From Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech, 17 February 2010
Measures to combat fraud and corruption
A major site of both wastage and inefficiency is in our procurement system. Through
a combination of corrupt practices, inefficient procurement, poor planning and, in
some instances, collusion by the private sector, we are not getting the kind of value
from our purchases that our people deserve. Even where there is absolutely no
corruption, we sometimes give contracts to people who cannot implement them and
so houses are left without roofs, roads crumble when it rains; water schemes break
down and school books fail to get delivered.
Mister Speaker, corruption is an ever-present threat to our ambitions. All South
Africans must constantly and consciously work to root out this cancer. If we are to
address this scourge, we need improved management capability, governance,
enforcement, and oversight in government, and in the business sector. Poorly
managed tender processes are all too often open to such abuse. Greater
transparency and accountability in procurement systems will therefore be a key
focus of reform in the period ahead.
Additional funds have been allocated to bolster efforts to strengthen supply chain
management, and the relevant government departments have intensified efforts to
bring perpetrators of tender fraud to book. Data matching, the practice of comparing,
for example, taxpayer data with social grants registers or housing waiting lists, will
become a regular feature of a systematic approach to minimise abuse. We are
starting to see the early results of these efforts: officials have been disciplined and
others fired, five people linked to supply chain fraud were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal
last week and more cases have been handed over to the National Prosecuting
Authority. We are expecting more arrests very soon. An inter-ministerial committee
on corruption has been established, Chaired by Minister Chabane, to coordinate
government’s efforts to stamp out corruption.
Budget Speech by Pravin Gordhan, February 17, 2010
It is my privilege to present the first budget of the administration of President Zuma
to this House.
Last week we had the special honour of hosting former President Mandela in
Parliament. He exuded his inimitable magic. He reminded us of what we have
achieved in our struggle for freedom and in our democratic journey. He reminded us
that South Africans are capable of extraordinary things. We are, as you also
reminded us, Mr President, an extraordinary people.
Twenty years ago, we showed the world that we could unite around a common
cause – a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa. We showed ourselves,
and the world, that we could compete politically and yet find a shared understanding
on matters of concern to all of us – building a better South Africa for our children and
grandchildren. Read More…
The shocking state of government’s books is a real crisis for South Africa. It suggests that money is either being stolen, inappropriately spent or spent on the wrong things.
The outcome of all three of these alternatives is a failure to deliver on government’s promised basic services. This in turn causes social upheaval.
The auditor general has told Parliament that only 35% of government entities passed the audit procedure – that’s 91 out of 256 ‘entities”. Eight were so poorly run that no audit was possible. 118 had inadequate documentation or serious accounting lapses.
The question that has to be asked is whey this failure to properly manage accounts was not tackled by then Finance Mininster, Trevor Manuel or his successor Pravin Gordan?
Could it be that the perceived political cost to the ruling party of properly holding accounting officers responsible would be too high? Could it be that a properly conducted criminal investigation into each instance of missing money would start to eat at the heart of Jacob Zuma’s crony state causing all sorts of embarrassing truths to emerge?
I only ask this because it is noteworthy that successive governments have turned a blind eye to the massive accounting failure that lies at the heart of government spending.
Speech by Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan during the Mid Term Budget Policy for 2009
27 October 2009
It is my privilege to present to this House and fellow South Africans the first Budget Policy Statement of President Zuma’s government.
This is a difficult time for most of the world and for South Africa. But it is also a time of opportunity a time to face down adversity and proclaim that we will overcome its challenges. We will adapt to the new circumstances. We will not hesitate to do things differently, to act boldly! Read More…