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Careerism and self-interest are killing the culture of the ANC

6 April 2003, Posted in News

"Careerism and self-interest are killing the culture of the ANC"

Cedric Gina , a Numsa shop steward from Hillside Aluminium, Richards Bay, interviewed some delegates who attended the ANC's National Conference in December in Stellenbosch. He gives us a picture of some of the debates.

"At this stage we do not need new policies or new institutions. In governance, most of our problems are due to failures of implementation arising from a poor human resource capacity, as well as a failure to monitor and provide political direction to those given responsibilities in governance." (Umrabulo, No 16, August 2002)

This is the official line from the special edition of the ANC's magazine, Umrabulo, produced specifically for the Conference. But delegates painted this picture of the debate around governance:

"The majority of councillors are a disgrace to the movement, some don't even know the policies of the movement," a delegate was heard commenting in frustration and anger.

"Careerism and self-interest are killing the culture of the ANC that we know," exclaimed another, others nodded in agreement.

"How do you expect a councillor who does not know and understand the movement to drive the programme of the ANC?" another delegate asked.

In as much as there are problems with human resources at branch level, delegates also expressed the view that self-interest and careerism are blocking genuine attempts in many wards to implement the programme of the ANC.

"Councillors have become laws unto themselves – you raise a contrary view in a meeting and then you are labelled an 'ultra-left'."

Nevertheless delegates re-committed themselves to:

ensure that councillors are accountable to branch leadership decisively deal with self-interest and careerism ensure sustainability of structures until the next conference become active in community activities.

In my view, the challenge is for the movement to invest in political education like they used to, to ensure that new people elected to structures are orientated on their roles and responsibilities. For example, the councillor will do as s/he pleases and the ANC branch does not call her to account. Such actions will help to control the self-interest and careerism.

Becoming active in community structures means that a branch must visit those affected by HIV/Aids and give support to them. It must research who qualifies for social grants and assist them to register.

Those who are needy should be helped to receive food packages. It should keep its ear on the ground to find out what public works programmes or local development initiatives operate in the area and help those that are unemployed but able to work, to get work. Where possible, it should try and set up ABET classes and training for the unemployed where they live.

The branch should also make sure that the council does not evict indigent people or pensioners from their houses if they default on their house payments. The Municipal Act gives protection to such people. And it should check that those that qualify, are receiving free basic services.

Only if branches do this, will we see the implementation of the ANC manifesto's objective to 'drive back the frontiers of poverty' as the President said in his State of the Nation address.

Poor service

"Picture this scenario," one of the delegates, says to me. "The time is 12h50, the temperature is 32 degrees celsius and the queue is long. A phone rings," a delegate narrates. "The clerk picks up the phone. It's her boyfriend. They chat about last night, leaving out no detail. The boyfriend is waiting outside, oh it's a surprise lunch – she leaves at 12h59 to attend to her boyfriend.

"The place is stinking hot, young ladies are coming to apply for birth certificates, they are chatting. 'This is the fourth time that I am coming to organise a birth certificate. The first time, I waited all day, it closed before I had any luck. The next time, the same story. The third time, the clerk said to me, 'I need some extra cash for entertainment and then you'll get to the front of the queue'. I refused, that's why I'm back. I've had to take sick leave from the hospital where I am working as a nurse to come and do this."

I later learnt that these public servants delivering such poor and corrupt service are members of a union. I console myself, they must belong to a right wing trade union. To my surprise, they are members of Nehawu, an affiliate of Cosatu!

Little wonder that Skweyiya, Minister of Social Welfare recently attacked Cosatu and other unions in the public service on their poor performance.

My mind runs to Mahlabathini where my granny lives with three of my sister's children. None of them have birth certificates. My sister passed away through "idliso" (concoction) from somewhere in Durban , the city of gold and honey.

My granny shares her old age pension with these grandchildren. But her home is far from the nearest home affairs office. She has no money to pay for 'the clerk's entertainment'.

Is she able to take a bus at 4am on a bad road, all the way to Ulundi, a two-hour bus ride away. And then repeat it again and again and again because of the poor service?


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