Scepticism Over Metro Intervention Justified

There can be no doubt that the diminishing corps of ratepayers share the scepticism of the DA’s Martin Meyer and the IFP’s Otto Kunene at the ANC’s insistence that a Section 154 intervention will enable eThekwini recover its capacity to meet its service delivery mandate (The Mercury, June 2).

As a former eThekwini councillor, Meyer, experienced and witnessed the steady decline in the various service departments as institutional memory was retired and replaced by cadres either with fake qualifications or questionable competence. At the same time while the staff complement of the municipality grew from 16,000 to 28,000, service delivery declined.

eThekwini municipality has proved a classic case study of Professor Northcote Parkinson’s theory on bureaucratic bloat. He posited that: (1) there is little or no relationship between work to be done and the size of the staff; (2) officials are prone to multiplying the number of subordinates; (3) the growth in administrative staff greatly exceeds that of technical staff.

No matter how many “experts” are going to “intervene” in the quest to restore eThekwini’s ability to function properly, their mission is flawed. Only by terminating the policy of cadre deployment, radically reducing bureaucrat bloat, advertising key posts and appointing people on the basis of qualifications and skills instead of demographic quotas, can the Metro’s fortunes be salvaged.

The plight of Pietermaritzburg, which has twice been under administration (Section 139), illustrates the futility of interventions that fail to root out the fundamental causes of service delivery failure.  The basis of those failures is because the corrupt cannot uproot their fellow travellers and the ANC is hidebound by its failed ideology.

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