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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Hawks, Scorpions and the Constitutional Court

This report highlights the weakness of the  South African Police Service Act which in 2011 was found by the Constitutional Court to be unconstitutional and invalid because it failed to give the Hawks the adequate degree of independence they needed to fulfill their duties. The Constitutional Court sent the act back to parliament for them to fox it.  

Last Friday (13th December 2013) the Cape Town High Court found that the fixes were not good enough and still left the Hawks too vulnerable and subject to political interference arising from the ministerial appointment of the head of the Hawks and the lack of parliamentary oversight of their actions.

This is relevant because the High Court’s concerns are similar to the Direct Democratic Forum‘s concerns about the NPA and of what should be our elite investigative unit, the Hawks.

The DDF‘s solution to this would be to make the NPA and the Hawks, or their equivalent, protected by Chapter 9 of the Constitution, as expressed here.  In that post we suggested that the NPA have their own investigative unit and were thinking in terms of the Hawks being that unit, but it may work better for the Hawks (or whatever that unit is) to work independently of the NPA but with the same Chapter 9 protection.  The DDF believe that either option would render the Hawks and the NPA immune from political interference and enable both to pursue their jobs of investigating and prosecuting criminals in the corridors of power, ‘without let or hindrance’ as the saying goes, which is the way it should be.

DDF judicial policies and the DDF security policies, developed from the DDF‘s sense of what is needed for the pursuit of justice, seems to largely reflect the perceptions of the highest courts in South Africa, and the DDF is encouraged by that, to believe they are at least on the correct path with those two policies. 

The DDF are about much more than just the pursuit of justice.  They are about affordable and effective health care, affordable and effective education, affordable and effective transport, to mention just a few elements of DDF Policies, which broadly speaking are about what is needed to make South Africa work for all of its citizens.  How can the  DDF help you?

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The buck stops at the ballot box.