In 1992, two years before thetransition to democracy in 1994, the ANC issued a document titled: “Ready toGovern: policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa.”
Although some of the issues itproposed did not take the form envisaged in the paper, it was clear what theANC wanted to do. It seemed then to have a vision about how the state –the executive,the legislature and the judiciary – would work under its stewardship.
Many South Africans too, were confidentthen that, indeed, the ANC was ready to govern.
However, twenty years after theANC declared it was ready to govern, a question rings loud in the minds andears of many South Africans: is the ANC still fit to govern?
This question arises on thebackdrop of a collapsing governance system under the weight of rampantcorruption and weak leadership.
Nothing has hitherto illustratedthe ANC’s incompetence to govern than the Limpopo text book scandal. While itis true that this scandal is an education calamity, it is however a manifestationof a collapsing governance system. It mirrors the dysfunctionality of the executiveand legislative arms of an ANC-led government.
In his 1762 treatise on the Social Contract, Jean-JacquesRousseau wrote about the complementary roles of the legislature and executive.He said 250 years ago that “The legislative power is the heart of the state,the executive is the brain, which sets all the parts in motion. The brain maybecome paralysed and the individual still lives. A man can be an imbecile andsurvive, but as soon as his heart stops functioning, the creature is dead.”
The ANC-led government appearslike a person who has suffered a severe stroke. The brain (executive) seems paralysedand the heart (legislature) is beating too slowly to give any hope about thefuture. The creature may not be dead yet, but is in comatose.
Which government, in its rightstate of mind, identifies education as its key priority and fails to delivertext books? What kind of legislature –national or provincial – is it that allows the executive to run amok?
Only a paralysed and dysfunctionalgovernment can allow a text book scandal to persist until two months beforelearners sit for their final year examinations.
However, the crisis of governanceis huge and goes beyond Limpopo. It is everywhere. From national governmentdepartments to provinces, they are fraught with governance deficiencies. Stateowned enterprises are not an exception either. The SABC, SAA, ESKOM, DENEL andothers, have become basket cases and a burden to national fiscus as a result ofpoor governance.
According to the AuditorGeneral’s audit outcomes report of 2010/11, only 3 out of 35 nationaldepartments received clean audits. These are the departments of Science andTechnology, Environmental Affairs and Public Enterprises. Most departments are regressingand instead of improving their governance systems, they are moving fromunqualified to qualified audit outcomes.
Those that should lead byexamples are themselves floundering. The Presidency is conspicuous by itsabsence in the list of the clean departments. According to the AuditorGeneral’s report, “there are significant concerns over the prevention anddetection of unauthorised expenditure at the Presidency”.
Parliament is also not a paragonof virtue. It is regressing as non-compliance takes its toll in its procurementprocesses.
Although National Treasuryreceived an unqualified audit, there are “findings on predetermined objectives andcompliance…” and it has “regressed in the area of predetermined objectives”. The contagion ofnon-compliance is catching up with the National Treasury – the custodian ofPublic Finance Management Act.
The question is: If Presidency,Parliament and National Treasury are themselves fraught with these challenges,how will they crack the whip to bring other departments into line?
In theprovinces, governance has literally collapsed and is worse in the ANCcontrolled provinces and municipalities.
According to the 2010/11 AuditorGeneral’s report, the best governed province is the Western Cape, under the DA.The best metropolitan council is the City of Cape Town, also under the DA. Someof the worst run municipalities such as uMsunduzi in KZN and Madibeng in NorthWest, are also not under the control of the opposition parties, but the ANC.
Of the 8 provinces under the controlof the ANC, it is a struggle to find examples of good governance, corruptionfree and a leadership that is beyond reproach.
In fact, 3 of the ANCcontrolled provinces are under administration in terms of section 100 of theconstitution. These are Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Free State. The Gauteng healthdepartment’s inability to manage its finances properly has also necessitated extra-ordinaryassistance from national department of health.
The other four provinces ofMpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal that are not underadministration are not the best either. That they are not free of corruptionscandals let alone service delivery protests is not a mark of good governance.This leaves the ANC with no model of good governance in the provinces itruns.
The underlying reason for theinterventions is the collapse of governance. Sadly, some of the nationaldepartments that are intervening do, themselves, deserve to be underadministration.
They are fraught with similarchallenges of incapacity, non-compliance, corruption and poor leadership. Thusthe interventions are bound to fail as is already the case in Limpopo. It is acase of the blind rescuing the blind.
How, for instance, could thedepartment of Basic Education rescue the children from the ineptitude ofLimpopo or Eastern Cape governments when, according to the Auditor General, itis highly incapacitated and has a number of unfunded vacancies?
That it had to rely on a retiredold man for its intervention in Limpopo is a story of general incapacity ingovernment. That there are now three task teams in Limpopo following the textbook scandal paints a picture of a confused government.
While it may be easy and popularto demand that Minister Angie Motshekga should be fired, a question must beasked about the role of the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, CollinsChabane. He ought to have known before schools reopened in January that thedepartment of Basic Education was going to let the children of Limpopo down.
It should not be surprisingtherefore that more South Africans are increasingly relying on the judiciary toforce the government to deliver on its mandate. This, too, is an indictment onthe ANC’s failure to govern. Thus, the attempts to tame the independence of thejudiciary should never be allowed to succeed, otherwise the public will have nowhereelse to go for redemption.
Once again, two years before 2014elections – the year of “the second phase of the transition” – the ANC findsitself having to answer the same question: is it fit to govern?