ANOTHER WEEK ANOTHER SHAMBLES
This past week must be one that the ANC will be wishing never happened.
This week the National Assembly was disrupted to the extent that a sitting of parliament had to be cancelled. No! it was not Julius Malema and the EFF that caused the disruption. This time striking parliamentary workers brought an urgent sitting of the National Assembly to a standstill on Tuesday when they invaded the gallery of the chamber.
Strikers drowned out any chance of the sitting getting under way by singing and refusing to leave, despite being warned that they were breaking the law. More than 1,000 workers went on strike earlier in November about performance bonuses. The strike was then suspended for a week. However, it resumed last Monday when the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said the management of Parliament was not serious about negotiations to resolve the issue.
The invasion of the gallery is unprecedented in South Africa. Parliament was scheduled to have two full-day sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday to process a vast quantity of outstanding paperwork before the house rises for the December break. The most critical issue was the approval of the medium-term budget.
What makes this all the more interesting is that Nehawu is a member of Cosatu, a member of the ANC Tripartite Alliance. A clear sign that the much vaunted Alliance is in a fatal decline.
On Monday the 12th Cosatu elective congress started in Midrand. As has become the norm at both Cosatu and ANC congresses the start was delayed for several hours because certain member’s credentials were challenged. In particular members questioned the legitimacy of Cosatu’s second deputy president Zungiswa Losi’s plan to accept a leadership nomination. This resulted in President Jacob Zuma having to delay his address to the congress.
Prior to the congress the president of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Clyde Mervin said, “The alliance must be strengthened … but it must also be reshaped. It must be more militant and it must put workers issues at the fore front. We must put workers first.” Clearly in the same way as President Zuma says that he “Puts the ANC first and then South Africa” so too does Cosatu “put workers first and South Africa second”. Cosatu are not interested in the unemployed or the poor.
At the end of the congress it was obvious that the congress spent more time in political discussions, while documents including the organisational report were not fully engaged. This led general secretary Katishi Masemola to say “We are no longer truly living up to the expectations of workers. It’s now about the dominance of numbers. Quantity has taken over quality. It’s a sad day,” He was referring to the use of votes to settle heated debates as seen at the recent congress. The practice is provided for in the Cosatu constitution.
Professor Stephen Friedman expressed a similar sentiment, raising doubt about whether delegates, most of whom are shop stewards who are meant to represent various branches or regions of unions, had in fact expressed their members’ views.
“Most delegates at the Cosatu congress did not go there to represent working people. You go there so that you can impress the union leadership, so that they promote you and, if they do, you might get your name on an election list,” Friedman said.
On Tuesday 24 November the latest public opinion data from the Afrobarometer surveys were released and indicates that President Zuma has lost significant citizen support since 2011.
Public disapproval of the president’s performance is currently at its highest level since the initial survey was conducted in 2000, along with perceptions of corruption in the Presidency. Furthermore, South Africans’ trust in President Zuma almost halved in the past four years, with a majority reporting that they believe that he routinely ignores both the legislature and judiciary.
Public distrust of the president is currently at 66% while disapproval of the president’s performance is 62%. Perceived corruption in this Office has risen to 46%, these are all at their highest levels since 2000. The perception that the president ignores the law (59%) and ignores Parliament (57%) reflects that almost six in 10 South Africans believe that he does.
With 77% of South Africans believing that the president should be subject to the law and that a majority believing that President Zuma “often” or “always” ignores laws must be of concern to the ANC.
The normal practice of political parties when opinion polls show adverse findings is to put on a brave face and say that their own polls show that their support is growing or the only poll that counts is that when the voters cast their votes, the ANC will no doubt do this.
Considering that the local government elections are only a few months away if I was the ANC campaign manager I would be very concerned to have a party leader who has a 34% approval rating and almost 60% of the voters not trusting his integrity. In such a case I would prefer to believe that the polls are correct and take remedial action to resolve the problem. It is better to wake up the morning after the election and find that the polls were wrong instead of ignoring the polls and waking up the morning after the election to find out that they were correct.
If all of this isn’t enough on Wednesday, Auditor General Kimi Makwetu released the national and provincial government audit results for 2014/15. 167 departments and 301 public entities with a total budget of R1.111 trillion were audited. Makwetu’s report revealed that only 28% of those audited received a clean audit. Once again, most of those audited incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2014/15, amounting to a total of R936 million. That’s money that was spent in vain and would have been avoided if care was taken.
Of the provinces, increased clean audits were seen in Western Cape, which recorded 83%, Gauteng was a poor second at 54% trailed by Free State, 32%, and KwaZulu-Natal 22%. Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape regressed. While there were six provinces that saw improvements across all audit categories, showing more progressions than regressions, Makwetu was concerned that apart from those in Gauteng and Western Cape, many are slow to make improvements.
A major concern has to be the Auditor General’s comments that the results of the audits of national and provincial government would have been better if not for the general slow response to past recommendations. Makwetu commented that 73% of those audited had been slow to improve key controls and address risk areas.
He further noted that the consequences for poor performances were still inadequate, and human resource management remains poor, except in Western Cape at 100% and Gauteng at 56% which have good human resource controls whereas the rest remain inadequate.
There are numerous examples, despite ANC protestations of fighting corruption, of persons not being held to account or fired but merely being moved to another department or worse still being promoted or receiving a golden handshake.
It was only on Sunday 22 November that it was reported that former disgraced crime inteliligence boss major-general Chris Ngcobo – who was caught lying about having a matric certificate – has been rewarded with an ambassador’s post. It has been confirmed that Ngcobo has been attending classes at the Department of international Relations diplomatic academy in Pretoria since July this year. His likely assignment is Mali.
On Friday Judge Dennis Davis of the Western Cape High Court upheld a review application by the Democratic Alliance seeking to have the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng by the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, set aside on the grounds that it was irrational and therefore unlawful from the outset.
This was the second part in a two part application. The first part of the application was decided by in the Western Cape High Court and the orders confirmed in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). It was found that the SABC was legally obliged to suspend Mr Motsoeneng pending disciplinary proceedings to be brought against him. The second part concerns Motsoeneng’s original appointment.
The DA has been successful in both parts of their application. This is an indictment of Minister Muthambi who shows persistent disregard for the Rule of Law and has managed the SABC as her personal fiefdom, subject only to her patron President Jacob Zuma.
Once again the minister and the SABC are expected to waste more taxpayers’ money to appeal the ruling. Little wonder that Hogarth in the Sunday Times awarded Faith Muthambi the dubiously honour of being the “Mampara of the Week”
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) went to court this week to have the R4.8billion contract for the controversial Afro 4000 locomotives with the Spanish locomotive producer Vossloh Espana’s and its South African subsidiary Swifambo cancelled and the R2.65billion already paid refunded.
Swifambo is a company only formed four months prior to the awarding of the tender. As such it had no prior experience with railways – but obviously another comrade had to have the opportunity to get rich. Remember “I did not join the struggle to be poor.” was said by former ANC national spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama in November 2004, in defence of his involvement in a BEE deal involving the sale of a R6.6 billion stake in Telkom to a consortium from which he stood to make up to R160 million. He was never repudiated by the ANC. People wonder why government receives such poor audit reports.
In true ANC tradition when the Prasa story broke in the Sunday newspaper Rapport the ANC deployed cadre, Lucky Montana labelled the article that appeared in the Rapport as wrong. On the Monday a Prasa representative at a press briefing said “This article is grossly inaccurate. It is devoid of facts,”.
In true ANC spirit Montana commented that the motive for Rapport’s article ‘was probably a race issue’. “Maybe because he is black that his authority is not taken seriously,” said Montana. “I am convinced that this story has got nothing to do with height restrictions – what is the story?” Well the story is Rapport was right and Prasa was wrong. Why, 21 years since we had an Apartheid government must everything become an issue of race?
The ANC wants a “Media Tribunal” to monitor the press from inaccurate reporting. How about appointing an “Ethics Tribunal” to keep politicians and deployed cadres honest?
So last week was bad for the ANC, it is not going much better this week.
On Monday the inflation rate showed a slight increase and the Rand dropped to a new all time low against the US Dollar and the “All Share” index on the JSE dropped.
The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of seven independent candidates who lost by-elections against the ANC in Tlokwe (Potchefstoom). The court ruled that the elections were not ‘free and fair’ because the voters rolls were inaccurate. In future the IEC will have to confirm the accuracy of a voter’s residence at the time of registration. This will prevent political parties from bussing in people in order to capture an opposition ward; This will eventually help ensure that elections are free and fair.
On Tuesday the Hawks announced that they were investigating the SAA for corruption and mismanagement. Little wonder when the SAA’s loss is reported as increasing to R4.7billion in the past year up from R2.8billion the previous year. How can a company not question why seven CEO’s have resigned in the past three years? There must be a lack of leadership – what can you expect when Jacob Zuma’s ‘Close’ friend, Ms Dudu Myeni, is the chairman of the Board?
The cherry on the top must be the revelation yesterday that Transparency International’s finding that South Africa is perceived to be the most corrupt nation on the African continent. This is a devastating blow to the image of our country, brought about by a government that promotes, protects and defends the corrupt, rather than rooting out this cancer.
Despite promises by Jacob Zuma’s ANC government to tackle corruption they have yielded no results, and in fact South Africa is now perceived as increasingly corrupt.
Could the chickens be coming home to roost? 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.