How long will South Africa remain apathetic?

29 April 2011

Time for another rant.

The recent and apparently senseless shooting of a woman in her car by a policeman makes me wonder just how long South African’s intend to remain apathetic to the blatant abuse of our country by individuals who have no real qualifications or experience for the positions they occupy?  In the seventeen years since the new beginning, with all its grand hopes and promises, we have seen the near-wholesale and systematic abuse of just about every government institution (education, health, railways, roads, security, defence, water – the list is endless), with the exception of SARS (which has to function or there would be no money to misappropriate).

The police shooting incident brings to the fore, now more than ever, the need for professionalism in all spheres of civil service and government.  How can we tolerate a chief of police who has not gained his position on the back of a lifetime of hard slog and developing the necessary skills and experience – i.e. a professional policeman?  The same applies to all aspects of the municipal and civil service.  They should be apolitical and entirely professional, and run on a firm business basis because, if they are, there will be few chances for money to be misspent.

Another example of the decay that has become so established is the Idi Amin-like penchant for uniforms that have not been earned – our Minister of Defence on Freedom Day is the most recent example.  Just how silly & Mickey Mouse do we want our country to be seen as?  Of course, we do have a navy with few working ships but lots of admirals, all have whom probably have their “time at sea” measured in days, rather than the many, many years that typically precede earning such a rank! (and they [the Defence Force] have a Trade Union, for goodness sake! – “attack that hill…!”, “no, I want to see my shop steward first!”).

We hear on a daily basis about the “struggle”.  Sadly, after 17 years, the struggle appears to be more separatist than a force for unification.  Like affirmative action, the struggle context should have had a sell-by date so that everyone could move forward together, rather than perpetuate the “us and they” scenarios. Rhoda Kadalie is quite right when she says that no-one wants to be given a job simply to fill a quota – you want to earn it on merit.   It is the fault of none other than the ANC’s that many of the promises made to the poor have not been met.  How long will they keep falling back on the old cliche of “apartheid did it”.  Had the aforementioned professionalism been the order of the day, the billions of rands we have seen wasted would not have occurred.

South Africans of all colours and creeds are seemingly extremely accepting of this nonsense.  Those who can run away to other countries – either because they are racially-intolerant or not prepared to share but all prepared to turn their backs on what they have gained from this country (education and wealth and training) – go and adopt another culture – often one crying out for the skills that South Africa gave them.  Each one that leaves makes it harder for those left behind as skills and institutional knowledge are weakened.  If affirmative action had not been so crassly applied, mentorship, skills transfer and nation-building might have been quite different.

Its time for people with spines to turn this around, otherwise its going to become an unholy mess.  A lot of what has happened is probably criminal and an assault on the human rights that our Constitution protects.  But wrong-doers seldom police themselves.  There are too many deeply-flawed personalities in positions of high office.

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