While I support the notion of enabling black economic empowerment, I do not believe the proposal of Tony Ehrenreich of sacking competent white state employees wholesale is a good idea.

A few days ago a colleague complained about the person that cleans our offices. According to him the person is never available to perform her duties and has endless excuses for not being able to do so.

The Councillor, after months of forbearance decided to report the lack of service to our admin support. The support officer reported it to his superior who contacted the building manager who reported it to the cleaning manager who reported it to the cleaning supervisor.  In the end, almost 10 people were directly involved. After months of limited service, Councillors were promised action all because one person failed to do her job.

This case reminded me of what is often wrong in our country. Rate and taxpayers pay for services that are nonexistent, partial or lacking in quality. Often the person employed is more concerned with tea time, lunch time, salary, pension plan, sick leave, annual leave, over time and a host of rights. Getting the work done is the last concern. Billions of Rands are lost every year due to unproductive and inept white, black, coloured and Indian people.

Recently at a school with which I am familiar, the governing body had to hire another estates manager because the person who is responsible for that portfolio was generally unresponsive. Since the unresponsive person is an education departmental employee and has been in the post for some time, little can be done with regards to quality service delivery. The pretext was “I have been doing this job for years and nobody is going to tell me how to do the job”.

The result is that across South Africa we have state employees that have been in positions for such a long time that they believe that they are untouchable. This attitude results in a bureaucratic arrogance that is difficult to sway. This intransigence is one reason why there are so many service delivery protests. Money is not always the problem as poor service delivery also happens when incompetent persons are hired. How else can one explain the fact that billions was spent in the historic black homelands with virtually nothing to show of that infrastructure, what happened to that money?

The points are that government should firstly get rid of all the useless people and then hire capable people. A useless black person is no better than a useless white person. When people are hired because they are politically connected or because of a particular hue, how does this choice guarantee a quality performance?  Also, when government service delivery is compromised by a handful of hopeless officials, the ripple effect is much wider than in the private sector. For example when a customer is unhappy with Telkom or Vodacom you can always move to MTN or Cell C or vice versa.

The toilet wars that continue to rage in this City are a classic example. This conflict costs ratepayers millions in security services, damage control, and vandalism and so on. When studying the history of this scenario, right at the start, you will find a handful of inept politicians and officials. They were probably placed into authority because of patronage and not because of ability.

In the words of Napoleon Hill “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress