Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The scourge of corruption in South Africa

Heaven forbid people are stopped from blaming the government, the resort of authoritarian regimes. And heaven knows twenty years of ANC government has spawned nepotism, cronyism and incompetence enough to keep a whole nation of critics at work.

But as the proposals to solve the problems crowd in - a new ANC leader, a DA electoral breakthrough, achieving the promised land of the ANC's 'national democratic revolution' or the wonderland of the 'fighters for economic freedom', the EFF - we need to remember: no person or party can run a modern rights-based state without an autonomous bureaucracy that works both efficiently and effectively. To put it less academically, a corps of people who see themselves as public servants, trained for the job and committed to doing it decently.

This vital component is still missing in South Africa not only due to the governing ANC's policy of cadre deployment, though that plainly makes things worse.

The human resources to transform the state and society for the hopeful successor generation of 1994 did not exist. How could they, after half a century of legalised apartheid had neglected or ignored education for the majority of non-citizens and reserved positions of leadership and control to a minority?

All South Africans live with the consequences today, but with an ironic as well as painful extra twist.

As the ANC government comes under increasing democratic pressure to tackle corruption and inefficiency, so the word goes out through the party-state that such misdeeds are starting to be penalised.

Honest and competent officials, along with the venal, face a baffling new threat. In a system where loyalty and connections, not merit, have been the criteria, they find they had better now enforce the regulations to the letter.

Two things follow hand in hand: delivery slows further while rule-breaking continues to grow.

Corruption after all is a black market, closing the gap between the supply and demand of goods and services.


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