Govt’s top 10 mistakes

Trade union Solidarity says government blundered badly in 2010, and issued a list of its most serious shortcomings.

In a statement on Wednesday, it added that government’s handling of the national water crisis was regarded as the most serious blunder of 2010.

“Damage control of the harm already inflicted on the country’s scarce water resources will demand the most dedicated action in 2011.”

Spokesperson Ilze Nieuwoudt alleged that government had blundered in various aspects, causing permanent harm in many instances.

“The misappropriation of funds, efforts to gag the media and the ongoing fiascos at semi-government institutions caused extreme alarm in 2010.”

Government’s handling of youth matters, road maintenance, South Africa’s military readiness, crime, the widespread housing scandal and labour problems were also very prominent in 2010, she added.

“Corruption is present in many of these blunders. Until government takes committed steps to stamp out corruption at all levels, the same blunders will probably be repeated in 2011.”

In its statement, Solidarity listed government’s top-10 blunders for 2010 as being:

The water crisis

“In the same year that Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency, shrugged off as ridiculous predictions that toxic mine water could seep out at various locations in Gauteng before long, government for the first time ever acknowledged its failure to maintain municipal sewerage plants all over the country,” Solidarity said.

Youth

One of the most expensive government blunders without a doubt was the 17th World Youth Festival presented by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in December, Solidarity said.

It added that the festival cost almost R69-million, of which R29-million was funded by the treasury.

“In view of the current unemployment rate of 35.8 percent among South Africans in the age group 15 to 34 (according to the narrow definition of unemployment), such extravagance flies right in the face of our youth’s aspirations.”

The trade union added that government had also been unable to solve the nation’s education woes with the matric pass rate for 2009 at 60.6 percent.

Misappropriation of public funds

Solidarity said it had been disclosed in November that the bodyguards of the leader of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema, had already cost the taxpayer more than R880 000.

Furthermore, in October it was divulged that R3.7-million had been transferred from the South African Police Service (SAPS) budget to pay for the residence of police chief General Bheki Cele.

In addition, some R130-million was spent by government and several semi-government institutions on tickets for various matches in the Soccer World Cup Tournament.

Solidarity said that as to the management of municipal funds the picture was bleak indeed.

“Financial statements of South African municipalities published by the treasury disclosed that consumers of municipal services were overdue by more than R62-billion at the end of September 2010 – with close to R3.4-billion due by the state itself.”

Huge pothole backlog

According to the trade union, while South African roads face a construction backlog of almost R100-billion, motorists were spending some R50-billion annually to have pothole-related damage to their vehicles repaired.

“The maintenance of our secondary roads in particular has become a veritable nightmare thanks to the fact that, to a large extent, road maintenance has simply stopped.”

Media Tribunal

“It would seem that a transparent society, investigative journalism and media freedom are to make way for more corruption and deeper murkiness,” Solidarity noted.

“This scenario, among others, awaits South Africa if the proposed media tribunal and the Protection of Information Act.”

SANDF

Solidarity said “disturbing rumours” were again doing the rounds this year that the defence force was nowhere near fighting trim.

“The low morale in the SANDF is alleged to be very serious; in fact, in November an MP warned that it could even endanger state security. The publishing of a comprehensive report on the combat status of the SANDF is awaited with
apprehension.”

Semi-government institutions

Many semi-government institutions were continuing their negative tendencies, according to the trade union.

“Some of these institutions are hampered by thousands of vacancies, weakening their service delivery.

“In May 2010 Transnet had some 4500 vacancies, Eskom had 1200, while SAA lacked 600 workers.”

Labour

“Government’s target of creating five million new jobs in the next decade is commendable; however, if this initiative was not left to the private sector, it cannot succeed,” Solidarity said.

Housing Scandal

Housing corruption involving some 2000 government officials was one of the most disgraceful public sins of 2010, Solidarity alleged.

“Minister of human settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, said in August this year that syndicates selling and leasing government housing were to be investigated.

“Numerous government officials, notably in Gauteng, North West and KwaZulu-Natal, are allegedly benefiting underhand from these deals,” Solidarity added.

Crime and law enforcement

The trade union said the authorities were still unable to crush South Africa’s internationally feared criminals, despite a growing police force.

“According to data released by SAPS in September, 16 849 murders, 68 332 sex-related crimes and 64 670 muggings (robberies with violence) were recorded as at 31 March 2010 when the 2009/10 financial year ended. Residential and business burglaries increased by 1.9 percent and 4.4 percent respectively.”

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