Suck It Up – Integrity in Government?

SA’s ladies javelin champion Sunette Viljoen (33) who earned a silver medal for SA at this year’s Rio Games, has an expectation of some prize money from the SA Government (aka SASCOC aka South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee). It was reported here and here that Silver Medalists can expect R250 000 from SASCOC, to be shared between the athlete and the coach. Yet Sunette seems to be short of R70 000 in prize money, which, if the inferences drawn from tweets by and between South African Minister of Sport, Mbalula Fikile and Sunette (see here) are true, there was a reasonable expectation of a reward of the R70 000 prize money from SASCOC.

The SASCOC’s response, as witnessed by Minister Fikile’s tweet, was that he believed that Sunette had said she did not need the money and therefore would not be paid it.

What sort of response is that? It is the sort of response that even the lowliest government functionary can be expected to deliver in the face of someone demanding that government do their job or pay their debt. Suck it up.

A few personal experiences trying to recover over-payments and over billings indicate these are almost impossible hurdles to overcome. Officials refer one from pillar to post and then back again until one runs out of possibilities.

The point I wish to make here, is that the Ministerial attitude seems to be the same as that of a lowly municipal servant’s attitude. It is an attitude that seem to filter from the top down, indeed, Minister Fikile’s response seems to very much reflect his boss’s attitude to various acts of alleged malfeasance, including but not limited to the Nkandla fiasco. Suck it up.

In the Nkandla matter, eventually the DA was forced to go to the constitutional court to get some respite for the nation, although we suspect it was only a token respite. But where do Sunette and others go for their claims? The last I heard you needed to put up R300 000 before an attorney will go anywhere near a court on your behalf, and some R3 000 000 to approach the constitutional court.

That leaves Sunette and others without those resources, out in the cold, and people like Minister Fikile and his boss and the general functionaries of municipalities and government departments count on it, to protect their own disinterest, incompetence or unwillingness to fulfill their obligations with any integrity.

My last observation on the question of Minister Fikile and Sunette’s exchange, is that the Minister accuses Sunette of arrogance. Anyone reading the interchange will be able to judge for themselves just who is being arrogant and who is being humble.

The purpose of these blogs is to compare DDF ethic and policy with the ANC experience. So here goes.

The above illustrates what you can expect from an ANC led government, pretty much from top to bottom. Under a DDF administration, all of government, from the top to bottom, whether central, municipal or local, will all have to acknowledge that they are firstly public servants who are there to serve the public, not themselves.  They will be expected to serve with integrity and honour, in all exchanges, from repaying state moneys used for personal enrichment (a la Nkandla) to paying out prize money to our champion athletes, to sorting out queries and honouring agreements with their consumers and their suppliers, to providing excellent services.  Under a DDF administration, failure to do so would be a punishable offence.

Suck that up if you will.

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