[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Jeff Rudin on SA water crisis
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Feb 10 17:27:14 GMT 2008
Water crisis: research and action pleas ignored
Published:Feb 10, 2008
DISAPPOINTMENT: Thabo Mbeki and his team have failed the fundamental
test of an elected government
ALACK of accountability, rather than a skills shortage, lies at the
heart of the problem referred to in “Now it’s a water crisis” (February 3).
A service-delivery crisis occurs when incompetence is married to
indifference and management is allowed to remain unaccountable. Three
remedies offer themselves:
# Performance appraisal ought to be applied to senior managers so that
their pay is directly dependent on their performance.
# Disciplinary action must be taken against managers who are
persistently unable to meet the terms of their contracts of employment.
# The Department of Water Affairs & Forestry must fulfil its duties as a
national statutory enforcement authority. That its enforcement unit
consists of a mere 15 people remains a scandal.
Skills are still mostly available; the problem is that they are no
longer to be found in the municipalities themselves.
Neo-liberalism and BEE have resulted in the stampede to outsource as
many municipal functions as possible. This lucrative business for the
private sector comes at enormous public cost.
Municipalities have been allowed to employ consultants to do the work
that unsuitable managers are not able to do.
This has resulted in a huge loss of skills, as staff have left local
government employ to set themselves up as consultants — doing much the
same work as before but at considerably better pay.
Municipalities continue to ignore the skills available among its
experienced workers. Research by the Department of Provinces and Local
Government , the SA Local Government Association and the SA Municipal
Workers Union, in 2002/03 demonstrated the untapped capacity on which
municipalities could be drawing.
Unfortunately this research, like much of that quoted in the Business
Times article, remains ignored.
— Jeff Rudin, Athlone
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