POLITICS AFTER NKANDLA
It has now become patently obvious that the ANC is not going to allow President Zuma to carry any culpability for the Nkandla saga. By the end of this week the ad hoc committee will have tabled their report absolving Zuma of having to pay for the upgrades to his personal home and in all probability recommend that further work be undertaken, at the tax payers’ expense, to upgrade the security at Nkandla. Some low level officials will be blamed for the scandal, charged and the later given a promotion, this is how the government works. This report will be tabled in the National Assembly and carried by the ANC majority as they did to prevent the Public Protector from briefing the ad hoc committee.
This issue has now dominated the parliamentary programme and media for too long now. There are many other pressing issues that must now be debated and the government held to account.
I am not in any way suggesting that either Zuma or the ANC must get off scot free for this scandalous abuse of power. In my opinion charges of corruption should be instituted against the President and let us see if Shaun Abrahams, the new head of the National Prosecuting Authority, will prove his impartiality and fulfil his duties “without fear or favour”. Or the report must be submitted for a legal review.
Perhaps we could also launch a petition both online and in hard copy calling on Zuma to “pay back the money”. Once this is done progress on Nkandla must be monitored but no longer allowed to dominate the public discourse.
The electricity crisis remains the most pressing need in South Africa today. Until this is resolved we need to see this dominate the political debate and quick term, affordable solutions found. My proposals were outlined in detail in my POLITICAL PERCEPTIONS Edition 14 last week. If you did not receive a copy E-Mail me and I will forward a copy to you.
The other issues in urgent need of discussion are:
Unemployment is regarded by most voters as the single most important issue facing South Africa. Figures released on 29 July 2015, show that in the first six months of the year unemployment increased by 321 000 to 5.2million people. These figures exclude the 2.4 million “discouraged job seekers”, who wanted a job, but have given up looking for a job.
The fact that there are 7.6 million people who cannot find a job is outrageous, especially when you consider that for every person who loses their job about four people depend on them for basic essentials.
The fact that unemployment cannot be explained by external factors alone, and has much to do with government’s economic policy, which is killing investment, economic growth and jobs in South Africa. Of even more concern is that the unemployment rate may increase given that companies in the mining, metals and construction sectors, are planning massive job cuts in 2015. With the current uncertainty in the tourism sector unless the government amends the visa requirements there could be an even greater degree of “job shedding’.
Government’s proposal to create six million “job opportunities by 2019” is flawed and misleading. It is misleading because these are only temporary jobs; they will not reduce unemployment significantly but will offer some ‘on the job training’ and ‘short term income’. What is required if for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to be up scaled to provide temporary relief from unemployment but it must be linked to a skills development programme.
In order to promote job creation and the 8% economic growth we need to reduce unemployment government needs to:
- Repeal and amend laws that reduce international and local investment through threats of nationalisation and limitations on foreign ownership;
- Establish Job Zones near ports and airports, and in rural areas, to attract investment into industries that employ many people;
- Create a national government internship programme;
- Introduce a real Youth Wage Subsidy to address high levels of youth unemployment. Government’s current intervention, the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI), has failed to provide young South Africans with job opportunities; instead, it has benefited middlemen and big employers.
- Reducing the ‘red tape’ required to start a business through the introduction of aRed Tape Reduction unit and review all legislation that creates unnecessary red tape;
- Eliminate the energy crises through the privatisation of Eskom and expanding the number of private power producers and encouraging the development of alternative energy sources;
Crime is a further issue that affects the lives of most South Africans and reduces the potential to attract foreign direct investment in South Africa. Not everyone is as lucky as, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha whose home in a gated complex in Pretoria was broken into three times in two was moved into a hotel, at the tax payers expense, until “we are happy that it is safe” for the minister. After all, he is the Minister of Justice. This is despite the fact that he is entitled to protection by the VIP protection unit. Millions of ordinary South African must pay for their own security and hope that SAPS will get to the crime scene sometime.
The question that has to be asked can we effectively fight crime when we a National Commission that the Farlam Commission found that “The National Commissioner…had been appointed to head the SAPS just a few months earlier, after receiving professional training in social work and having had a professional career focused largely on human resources and on the management of state enterprises. She had no policing expertise and experience whatsoever.”
There are currently 1 448 convicted criminals employed by SAPS and no action has been taken against them and they are being promoted up the ranks of the SAPS. Little wonder that police corruption and brutality has reached unmanageable proportions. 39 000 operational SAPS members are without firearm competency certificates, an increase of 18 000 since 2012. Furthermore there are at least 20 000 operational SAPS members without driver’s licences. There are also detectives who remain untrained or poorly trained and are burdened with huge numbers of cases. Poor training has seen forensic evidence destroyed at crime scenes. Detectives have also been deployed to various task teams, leaving their dockets neglected. This results in the SAPS conviction rates remaining unacceptably low.
Moral amongst those loyal hardworking police officers who risk their lives to fight crime is low because of a lack of action by the national commissioner. For example the Public Service Commission reported that there is a lack of basic services, including water, electricity and sanitation at more than 150 police stations across the country. The frequent promotion of unqualified junior officers over experienced senior officers is further destroying morale. To add insult to injury the 2011 plan to prevent Police murders has not been implemented, resulting in increased deaths, and mandatory psychological debriefing has not been introduced, resulting in increased family murder/suicides by police officers.
In order to win the war against crime the following action needs to be undertaken:
- The government to uphold the Rule of Law, where the courts are obeyed and nobody, including the president, can disregard court rulings;
- To immediately dismiss the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega and appoint a competent and experience police officer in her place;
- Suspend without pay and institute disciplinary action against all police officers who have been convicted of criminal offences;
- Train all police officers without firearm competency certificates and drivers licences to obtain the necessary competencies;
- Reintroduce the specialized crime fighting units, especially the South African Narcotics Bureau, the Commandos, the Anti-Hijacking Unit and the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units;
- Increase visible policing by releasing trained police officers from clerical work and replacing them with suitably qualified clerical employees;
Education in South Africa needs to keep pace with the changing world. Our industrial economy is slowly being surpassed by a knowledge economy. To keep up with this change, it is crucial that the next generation becomes a generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The only way to achieve this is through quality education: literacy and numeracy in the lower grades, maths and science in the later grades.
South Africa can no longer have a society where:
- 3 544 schools do not have electricity, while a further 804 schools have an unreliable electricity source;
- 2402 schools have no water supply, while a further 2611 schools have an unreliable water supply;
- 913 do not have any ablution facilities while 11 450 schools are still using pit latrine toilets;
- 22 938 schools have no stocked libraries, while 19 541 do not even have a space for a library;
- 21 021 schools have no laboratory facilities;
- 2 703 schools have no fencing at all; and
- 19 037 schools do not have a computer centre, whilst a further 3 267 have a room designed as a computer centre but are not stocked with computers.
We need to create a world class education system through:
- Introducing legislation to regard teaching as an essential service, teachers’ right to strike should be balanced with the best interests of learners;
- Ensuring that all teachers pass competency tests before they start teaching, and then regularly thereafter. Too many teachers across South Africa cannot even pass the tests they set themselves;
- Conducting rigorous competency testing for matric markers ensuring that examination results are credible and accurately reflect the ongoing improvements within the education system;
- Eliminating the political appointment of teachers and school principals as well as the interference of trade unions in these appointments;
- Placing greater emphasis on reading, writing and numeracy especially in the early grades because learners who do not “learn to read will be unable to read to learn” in the higher grades and increasing the grades required to pass examinations to 50%;
Many of the proposals that I have suggested can be implemented almost immediately, this must be done South Africa’s future depends on it.
Until next time,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.