Saturday, July 2, 2011

SA Government in trouble, in a Hole, but Still Digging Furiously

This is my opinion:

Our government has failed in just about every instance except clinging to power through demagogy based on racist and tribal polarizing. But it keeps plugging away at holding on to power and digging the hole it’s in deeper, yelling for a bigger spade instead, while many of those in power positions enrich themselves.

We once had systems that, while not serving all, were working. One option the government had in 1994 was to surround itself with smart people and say, help us build on the systems we have and expand them so we can serve everyone. Instead the government chose to throw the baby out with the bathwater, chase thousands of competent people out the country, restaff existing systems with loyal cadres irrespective of level of competence and integrity and fail miserably in the process of service, succeeding only in holding on to power. The recent election showed that even the holding on to power is a less brilliant performance than the president claims it is.

Trevor Manuel chose the smart people option. The one area in our land that can be singled out as a shining example of this approach is Finance.

How is it so difficult for people who consider themselves competent in running the country to see the warnings? It is common knowledge that sharp people see the problems years before they bubble to the top. Why can our leaders not heed the words of Vavi, Jack Bloom, Moletsi Mbeki, Rhoda Kadalie, Trevor Manual to name but a few smart people with good ideas? Change a losing game, please.

No, our leaders choose to follow losing game tactics presented by radicals. It sounds so good from the podiums. It polarizes. It keeps them in power with demagogy. But it fails miserably where the rubber meets the road, in its implementation. Our leaders refuse to investigate failures and fix them. They do not hold people accountable. People at the very top are left unaffected, even given bonuses and other rewards, despite gross acts of incompetence, dishonesty and worse. Our leaders continue to try and cover up, muzzle criticism, while furiously strategizing to get control of new areas that they have not yet messed up.

I’ve written to the presidency about our failing systems--received no reply. I’ve written to the president—received no reply. I’ve tweeted and emailed people in the press and opposition parties—I received many replies and confirmations of the crisis our land is in, but our leader fiddles.

The rainbow nation has become an empty concept. Our leaders want to continue polarizing the people of our nation, forgetting that despite our many differences we have this in common: a right to live our lives to the best we can and we have a right to be supported towards this goal by those in power. Rather than wanting to unite us in this, our leaders want separateness. The further we move away from our common-ness, the desire to live our lives to the best we can, the emptier “rainbow nation” will sound.

I’ve included the whole article by Jack Bloom here.

So you think you can run the mines?
Jack Bloom
27 June 2011

Jack Bloom says Julius Malema should visit a govt laundry in Gauteng

ANC Youth League President Julius Malema is a great champion of nationalization. I suggest he visits one of the five state laundries that serve public hospitals in Gauteng. They are inefficient beyond belief. Only 93 of the 195 laundry machines are running.
The 13 boilers are more than thirty years old and work at about half capacity. Eight of the 9 tunnel washers run at 38% efficiency level, and the other one barely functions at 11% efficiency.
Other machines are equally decrepit. The budget for repairs and maintenance is largely unspent because this falls under another department. Getting the public works section to respond takes incredible effort.
So machines are often down for days or weeks at a time, with workers doing nothing. The overtime bill, however, is enormous because they work late hours or on weekends to catch up. State hospitals are affected badly by the unreliable laundry service.
Sometimes operations are cancelled because of no clean linen, or patients have to bring their own sheets or bed clothes. During the civil service strike last year the laundries shut down and volunteers had to assist, including Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
It's quite crazy that we have these state laundries when there are plenty of private laundries that can do a better job at lower cost. The Pretoria laundry services hospitals as far away as Johannesburg and the West Rand.
It would be far better if hospital managers could choose the laundry that provides the most cost-effective quality service. The state laundries should be sold off or given to a worker consortium to compete with private laundries. This would enable the Health Department to focus on its core mission, which is to provide a decent health service. Why be hassled with laundries? The same goes for other non-core services that can be outsourced.
Security is already provided by private companies, so why not cleaners and catering as well? The Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban is the model as it outsources virtually everything, including porters.
Trade unions don't like this, but its efficiency enables a better health service for the poor. Julius Malema, of course, would opt only for the best private health care. It would actually be better if private health providers were contracted to serve the poor as well.
Poor patients are often treated badly in state hospitals because staff know they have no other option. State hospitals, like state laundries, won't go out of business if they provide bad service. We need to find the right mix of state and private health provision, with productive partnerships between the two.
Nationalization of private businesses has been shown to be such a disaster that it is amazing that any sane person can still advocate it. In the case of mines, we already have state-owned Alexkor that loses money and jobs. It employed 691 employees in 2000 but has just 105 employees today. But the Malema types don't care about this as they seek lucrative positions in state enterprises.
They are political parasites as they don't have real skills that add value in society. Our future depends on whether or not the poor see through their self-interested rabble-rousing.
This article by Jack Bloom MPL, DA Leader in the Gauteng Legislature, first appeared in The Citizen.

No comments: