Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
It was a case of déjà vu when former ANC Treasurer General Mr Mathews Phosa said this week that the ANC must stop blaming apartheid and start looking to the high levels of corruption as the reason for their problems. Just six months ago, Minister in the Presidency Mr Trevor Manuel issued the same warning: stop blaming apartheid, and find the real reason for the lack of service delivery.
At the time, Minister Manuel pointed out that the ANC-led Government could have said in 1994, 1995 and 1996 “we don’t have the experience”. But with almost two decades of democracy under the belt, that is no longer an excuse. The trouble is, over the last three years Government has spent R102 billion on consultants.
The Presidency alone allocated R83,5 million to consultant costs in its budget this year.
Thus both Mr Phosa and Minister Manuel have hit the nail on the head. Every year, billions of Rands that are earmarked for development projects, are wasted, mismanaged or stolen under the ANC’s leadership. The actual work is being done by consultants, at a further cost of billions of Rands. Apparently, the ANC has made no progress in learning about governance in the past nineteen years.
Earlier this year, the South African Institute of Race Relations considered the report of the Auditor General on “unauthorised, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure” within provincial departments, which amounted to R24,8 billion. The Institute translated this astronomical figure into terms we can all understand.
R24,8 billion could have built 400 new schools; or 120 Nkandlas. That alone speaks of the ANC’s priorities. Again I agree with Mr Mathews Phosa that there has been a “cover-up” over Nkandla.
R24,8 billion could have funded every single university student enrolled right now. Our labour market of tomorrow would not lose a single skilled contributor simply because a lack of funds prematurely ended their university studies.
R24,8 billion could have built 550 new prisons, ensuring that overcrowding no longer prompted lenient sentences and early parole.
It could have built 24 children’s hospitals, of the same standard as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital which bears a price tag of R1bn.
But none of this happened, because the R24,8 billion was poured down the drain by provincial departments.
It is no surprise that the ANC has managed to build only 33 schools in KwaZulu Natal since taking power almost ten years ago. To match the 6 000 schools built under the IFP, it would need to rein in corruption and waste. But it lacks the political will to do that.
According to Corruption Watch, education is a corruption hotspot. And according to the World Economic Forum, South Africa ranks second from last in the world for maths and science education. There is a link between these two facts, for as long as corruption is allowed to flourish, we will be hamstrung to meet the challenge of improving education, or building houses, or land reform, or crime reduction, or job creation.
I mention land reform because farms to the value of R59 million have already been lost through corruption in Government’s land reform programme. Further farms to the value of R52 million are under investigation.
Corruption reaches from the highest levels, right down to municipalities.
According to the Auditor General, fruitless and wasteful expenditure within South Africa’s municipalities has more than doubled in a year, to reach R568 million. Irregular expenditure stands at R9,82 billion. As the Auditor General put it, “Overall audit outcomes (have) regressed” over the past three years.
I have often pointed out that during my 19 year tenure as Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government, not a single allegation of corruption was ever levelled at my administration. We had, and still have in the IFP, zero tolerance for corruption at any level. IFP run municipalities in KwaZulu Natal since 1994 have offered an example of clean audits, something which only nine of our country’s 278 municipalities achieved this year.
So, beyond well-paid consultants, one wonders who is doing the real work of meeting South Africans’ needs. According to the 2011 Census, almost a third of South Africans live below the breadline, and according to the KwaZulu Natal Budget speech this year, the unemployment rate is increasing. There is thus great need, which is becoming greater.
The truth is, it’s ordinary South Africans who are helping our people.
Grandmothers take in orphaned children, whether related to them or not. Small businesses plough back into community development. And NGOs fight a constant battle against closure, as they counsel rape victims, provide safe-havens for abused children, give skills training to the unemployed, and meet a myriad of other pressing needs.
The financial challenges faced by NGOs should really be met by Government, in recognition of the fact that these NGOs are doing the work of Government where Government fails. The KwaZulu Budget speech thus leaves much to be desired when it refers to the role of Social Development in supporting NGOs. It refers to helping NGOs with reporting, administration and financial management.
This is the same Department of Social Development that lost R135,6 million when 43 404 of its public servants irregularly accessed social grants to which they were not entitled. Going back to the R24,8 billion that was lost to “unauthorised, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure”, that would have paid 7,4 million child support grants for an entire year, or 1,7 million old age pensions.
It is therefore an insult to say that Government should teach NGOs how to do a better job, when NGOs are doing the work of a failing Government. There should, absolutely, be support for NGOs from Government. But it should be far more than instruction and advice. It must be financial.
In the spirit of honouring our NGOs, I’d like to appeal to you to support Bandana Day on the 12th of October not only by buying and wearing one of the bandanas of the Sunflower Fund, but by registering with the South African Bone Marrow Registry to become a bone marrow stem cell donor. By doing this, you could save a life.
There are widespread misconceptions about bone marrow donation that make many people hesitant to come forward as potential donors. There are no lumbar punctures or spinal taps involved. It is in no more painful than donating blood, and is in fact quite a similar procedure.
Initially only two vials of blood are needed for tissue typing. After that, if you are the one in 100 000 who happens to be a match for a child suffering from Leukaemia, you will be asked to donate stem cells. This is done by drawing blood, which is processed through a machine to separate stem cells, and then pumping your own blood back, almost like a transfusion.
It’s that simple to save a life. Many of our NGOs are saving lives every day, and they deserve our full support. They also deserve far more from Government.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP