More chiefs, but where’s the service delivery?

September 30, 2010

I was given a little booklet by Statistics South Africa entitled Stats in Brief 2009, and a very useful little document is is too. Hardly bigger than a Kindle screen, it contains in its 200-odd pages a wealth of statistical data on South Africa, from economic statistics to tourism figures. All the data in this little book is also available on Statistics South Africa’s website, but the book format, with its ease of moving between pages/sets of data, somehow enables you to make connections that are much more difficult to detect while navigating the web. For journalists, it is a veritable treasure trove of potential stories.

For example:  on Page 64, you’ll find that there has been no virtually no job growth in the Eastern Cape province over the past nine years. Turn the page, and you’ll notice that there has been about 47% growth in one particular job category: legislators, senior officials and managers. Mmm. Thumb through to the section on municipal expenditure and – my, oh my – the Eastern Cape province spends more on municipal councillors’ remuneration than any other province save KwaZulu-Natal, which has about a third more people. In percentage terms, the Eastern Cape muncipalities devoted 4.4% of their expenditure to councillors’ salaries in 2008, compared with a mere 0.8% in Gauteng, and up from 2.8% in 2001. Now if service delivery only improved at a similar rate…

Kudos to Stats SA for making this sort of informaiton available in such a user-friendly format.

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Communist Party’s attack on Zille is puerile and defamatory

October 5, 2009

This is what passes for political debate in South Africa these days:

We cannot tolerate a situation wherein ugly Zille uses money that is supposed to build toilets to buy her own make-up and Botox. You can’t use that money to buy your Botox, that money belongs to service delivery…

The speaker was Buti Manamela, leader of the Young Communist League, at the launch of the SA Communist Party’s “Red October” campaign in Khayelitsha, Cape Town (read the full report in The Times).

How does he get away with this? And why do senior ANC leaders, such as Education Minister Blade Nzimande and ANC deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise, who were present, allow him to spew such vile sexism? Shame on them.

It is OK to attack the DA’s record in service delivery in the Western Cape. But it is not OK in 21st Century South Africa for a male politician to attack a female politican opponent by calling her “ugly” – especially not one who was in the front of the chorus condemning Zille for “sexism” when she appointed an all-male cabinet. And it is not OK to accuse an opponent of stealing public funds to pay for make-up and cosmetic surgery. That is not only puerile, it is also defamatory, and I hope Zille sues Manamela for every penny he has.

Service delivery? I don’t know if Manamela, Nzimande or Modise read The Times, but if they do, they should turn to page 6 of today’s paper, where they’d see a photograph of a child running through a cess pit of untreated sewage in a street in Ezakheni township, at Ladismith in KwaZulu-Natal. Despite residents’ frequent complaints, the municipality has done nothing to prevent sewage spills like these. This is in an ANC municipality in an ANC-controlled province. Calling Helen Zille names won’t make those people’s lives any better.