The recent resignation of an Executive Director in the City of Cape Town and the wasting of millions on a soccer event were predictable. In April 2013 the City nearly wasted millions by inviting Liverpool who would have received about R15 million just to participate. After much criticism from my side and from others in the media, the wastage did not proceed. Two years later a similar plan involving Crystal Palace was instigated. What is obvious from this travesty is that stupidity has no expiry date.
Lack of proper planning is normal in South Africa as stupidity is common amid people who we as rate and taxpayers expect to govern with intelligence. The problem is sadly deeper than just stupid people in governance. What remains a problem are the people who appoint stupidity to begin with.
While we all make mistakes from time to time, when you appoint people to high office without due diligence of their ability, the issue requires deeper analysis.
Consider PRASA’s executive manager for engineering services Dr Daniel Mtimkulu who we now know may not even have a university engineering degree never mind a doctorate.
The story of Ellen Tshabalala who was appointed to the SABC board as part of the government’s strategy to turn around the public broadcaster was also curious. She was caught in dispute after revelations that her claim of a B-Com degree from Unisa was untrue.
Another high-profile exposed as a fraud is SAA chairwoman Dudu Myeni who listed a Bachelor’s degree in administration from the University of Zululand when she was appointed to the SAA board.
Questions that remain unanswered include, how was it possible for the applicants to survive the check points that form part of a normal interview process? Also, what are the qualifications of those doing the interview? The above cases reveal a simple truth, which is that we have inexpert people hiring more inept people to spend billions of rate and taxpayers monies on schemes that have limited fruitful outcome. If taxpaying voters do not stop this affirmation of stupidity, the laws of stupidity dictate that we will continue to waste billions on groups like Eskom, SAA, and SABC and so on. The level of stupidity at all municipalities and unwise spending is growing. Let us not forget the Arms Deal, the Stadium building fiasco or the Pebble Based Nuclear Reactor Studies and so on.
It is vital that those who invent or create their qualifications to attain high office must be criminally charged. Since politicians often serve on interview panels, their qualification must be considered.
For compliance, a post matric criterion is needed for Councillors and a university degree prerequisite for all Mayco and senior positions. Society cannot allow unqualified people to experiment with our collective well-being no matter how popular they may be. While university educated people are not always intelligent, society has to begin with some standard. If a learning criterion is not enforced, wastage based on stupidity will increase.
In the words of the wise, there are many institutions for further learning. Mere popularity cannot remain the primary pretext for electing stupidity into public office.
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress