Apparently, the ANC has made no progress in learning about governance in the past 19 years, says Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Durban - It was a case of déjà vu when former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa announced that the ANC must stop blaming apartheid and start looking to the high levels of corruption as the reason for its problems. Just six months ago, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel issued the same warning: stop blaming apartheid, and find the real reason for the lack of service.
At the time, minister Manuel pointed out that the ANC-led government could have said in 1994, 1995 and 1996 “we don’t have the experience”. But with almost two decades of democracy under the belt, that is no longer an excuse.
The trouble is, over the past three years the government has spent R102 billion on consultants.
The Presidency alone allocated R83.5 million to consultant costs in this year’s budget.
Thus both Mr Phosa and minister Manuel hit the nail on the head.
Every year, billions of rand that are earmarked for development projects are wasted, mismanaged or stolen under the ANC’s leadership.
The actual work is being done by consultants, at a further cost of billions of rand.
Apparently, the ANC has made no progress in learning about governance in the past 19 years.
Earlier this year, the SA Institute of Race Relations considered the auditor-general’s report on “unauthorised, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure” within provincial departments, which amounted to R24.8bn.
The institute translated this astronomical figure into terms we can all understand.
An amount of R24.8bn could have built 400 new schools; or 120 Nkandlas. That alone speaks of the ANC’s priorities.
An amount of R24.8bn could have funded every single university student enrolled right now.
Tomorrow’s labour market would not lose a single skilled contributor simply because a lack of funds prematurely ended their studies.
An amount of R24.8bn could have built 550 new prisons, ensuring that overcrowding no longer prompted lenient sentences and early parole. It could have built 24 children’s hospitals, of the same standard as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. But none of this happened, because the R24.8bn was poured down the drain by provincial departments.
It is no surprise that the ANC has managed to build only 33 schools in KwaZulu-Natal since taking power almost 10 years ago.
To match the 6 000 schools built under the IFP, it would need to rein in corruption and waste. But it lacks the political will to do that.
According to Corruption Watch, education is a corruption hot spot. And according to the World Economic Forum, South Africa ranks second from last in the world for maths and science education.
There is a link between these two facts, for as long as corruption is allowed to flourish, we will be hamstrung to meet the challenge of improving education, or building houses, or land reform, or crime reduction, or job creation.
I mention land reform because farms to the value of R59m have already been lost through corruption in the government’s land reform programme.
Further farms to the value of R52m are under investigation.
Corruption reaches from the highest levels, right down to municipalities.
According to the auditor-general, fruitless and wasteful expenditure within South Africa’s municipalities has more than doubled in a year, to reach R568m.
Irregular expenditure stands at R9.82bn. As the auditor-general put it: “Overall audit outcomes (have) regressed” over the past three years.
During my 19-year tenure as chief minister of the KwaZulu-government, not a single allegation of corruption was levelled at my administration.
We had, and still have in the IFP, zero tolerance for corruption at any level. IFP-run municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal since 1994 have offered an example of clean audits, something which only nine of our country’s 278 municipalities achieved this year.
According to the 2011 Census, almost a third of South Africans live below the breadline. And unemployment is increasing. There is thus great need, which is becoming greater. So, beyond well-paid consultants, one wonders who is doing the real work of meeting South Africans’ needs.
The truth is, it’s ordinary South Africans who are helping our people. Grandmothers take in orphaned children, whether related to them or not. Small businesses plough back into community development. And NGOs fight a constant battle against closure, as they counsel rape victims, provide safe havens for abused children, give skills training to the unemployed, and meet a myriad other pressing needs.
The financial challenges faced by NGOs should really be met by the government, in recognition of the fact that these NGOs are doing the work of the government where the government fails.
Social Development should be supporting our NGOs. But this department lost R135.6m when 43 404 of its public servants irregularly accessed social grants they were not entitled to.
As Phosa said, corruption is destroying the legacy of the ANC. But that isn’t our biggest concern. It’s also destroying our country.
* Mangosuthu Buthelezi is the president of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.