In the employment arena, every individual is required to perform their duties and, in turn, employers are required to provide direction and ensure timely payment.
The employment dynamic carries a certain amount of tension. If an employer fails to pay, there will be legal consequences and likely labour withholding. Similarly, if employees do not perform according to expectations, there will be consequence management.
Employers will hold employees accountable through warnings, potential dismissal or restructuring and retraining. The global employment system cannot function effectively without consequence management.
It is therefore crucial for citizens to scrutinise the government’s performance and hold it accountable for shortcomings. Reading daily newspapers reveals a widespread perception that our government has underperformed for the past two decades. A cursory glance reveals widespread service delivery failures and destructive behaviour.
A recent parliamentary answer by Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi revealed that only 10.2 million South Africans contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, despite a population exceeding 60 million. This means only one in six
South Africans are formally employed. Although official unemployment figures are alarmingly high, they do not fully reflect the dire situation we face.
To effect change, participating in this year’s national elections is critical. We need a new government equipped with the right tools to improve employment figures and service delivery. The new government must move away from deploying cadres who are demonstrably incapable of delivering, regardless of their intentions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his February 2022 State of the Nation address, acknowledged the urgent need for a social compact to bolster the economy, create jobs and tackle crime. Unfortunately, no tangible progress has been made since then. The minister’s attempt to address questions about presidential service delivery amounted to empty rhetoric.
Ramaphosa has demonstrably failed to deliver or even produce measurable results. South Africans remember Ramaphosa’s promise four years ago to set targets and deliverables for each minister. Only after sustained pressure and scrutiny did he, four years later, attempt to assess their performance. However, he then refused to share the assessments with the public, presumably due to the likely dismal results. It is evident that our government is ashamed of its own performance.
The Zondo Commission, at a cost exceeding R1 billion, exposed hundreds of individuals within the government and the private sector who engaged in fraud, theft and state capture. Yet, our government has chosen to take no action against any of them. The inaction is understandable, as the rot appears to permeate all levels, starting at the top.
Even the auditor-general and her staff have highlighted widespread departmental failures within the government, yet again, no action has been taken.
Critical entities like the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund failed to submit essential financial data for auditing. The blatant disregard for accountability is unacceptable. Every entity within the Department of Employment and Labour has faced audits revealing issues such as theft, wasteful expenditure and incompetence. Notably, the department’s human resource officials seem either unable or unwilling to take action against the individuals. Some even remain on extended “garden leave”, drawing salaries for up to three years, without facing any consequences. The lack of political will to address wrongdoing extends to highranking politicians and their staff, who seemingly engage in misconduct with impunity.
South Africa is at a critical juncture. We need a new government with the commitment and competence to address widespread failures in service delivery, tackle corruption and prioritise the well-being of all citizens. To achieve this, active participation in the coming elections is essential. We must demand better from our leaders and hold them accountable for their actions.
* Michael Bagraim.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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