The author of this highly rated article is Paul du Toit, CSP.
Paul is a Certified Speaking Professional awarded in 2008 by the Global Speaker Federation in New York, one of only 6 CSP’s in Africa. He is MD of the Congruence Group which focuses on developing human capital.
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Two issues currently in the spotlight and seemingly disconnected have caught my attention in the past fortnight. They involve a suicide over an ID document and new luxury vehicles for “fat cats”.
The first is why a citizen of this country, Skhumbuzo Mhlongo is driven to suicide by the uncaring, inept attitude of a civil servant, in response to his never-ending application for an ID document. I’m very surprised that more people have not been driven to similar lengths. The reality is – without an ID a person is literally stuffed.
As citizens of this country, logic would deduce that civil servants (employees of the country’s citizens) are the very last people who should be disrespectful of their employers (you and I) who pay their salaries and benefits.
When people seek employment in the civil service – which includes government, the police and the military they are exercising their democratic right by making a choice to serve the people of the country. Whereas I agree that they should be adequately compensated for their service, I believe that the risk should be commensurate with the reward. In other words, taxpayer-funded employment should never equal top dollar, nor does it permit a passport to arrogance. It certainly does not release one from the obligation to serve. You should get your kudos when you’ve actually accomplished something – as happens in business. However, bitter experience has shown us that power and rapid self-enrichment by whatever means seem to be, for many, the chief motivator. How can it be possible that these attitudes still prevail 15 years after democracy?
Ironically, our country has literally hundreds of excellent, well qualified providers out there who are well positioned to address the inexplicable entrenched lack of delivery and service in our country (now being blamed on the pre-election regime) – but up until now such independent providers have come to realize, a long time ago, that unless you are appropriately connected, tendering for government business is a complete waste of time. Everyone knows it, but few will say anything. Well, I’ve just said it now.
The second issue is excessive expenditure on new luxury cars by certain cabinet ministers (not all – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan being a notable exception) in the heart of an economic recession. This is further proof of an attitude of “my backside occupies this seat therefore I’m instantly entitled” mentality. The message that it gives those whom they seek to uplift is completely incongruent.
As a businessman I fail to see how driving a 5 year old car car does anything to detract from my image (as long as I keep the thing clean!). I don’t feel less worthy or compromised in any way, nor do I feel the slightest need to make any kind of social statement. Nobody except me seems to care in the least what car I drive. I learned that when I turned 30. For some reason the Western Cape cabinet and its leader seem to share my view. It’s no problem for them to use existing pool cars. No doubt they will in time be replaced by sensibly priced vehicles when we’re out of the poo. Fair enough.
I did the sums…a 5 year lease on a R1,1 million vehicle equates to around R25,000 per month over 5 years. A bit over the top for a servant of the people, wouldn’t you say? And for a motor vehicle?! Or is this the minister’s contribution to keeping the ailing motor industry afloat?
There are 2 distinct messages in this article. On the one hand a citizen is driven to suicide because he is denied his basic rights. On the other hand the ministerial fat cats in charge feast away on the gravy train prior to delivering any meaningful change at all. These problems are highlighted in the press, but when the furore dies down nothing has really changed for the better – there is no accountability if you’re one of the chosen few and so the death of Skhumbuzo was for naught. That’s sad.
It is imperative that we hold our elected leaders accountable for their election promises. It is ridiculous to site lack of resources, as the system prevents the abundance of available resources in our country from being utilised to address the problems – such as the desperate state of service delivery.
My solution: You shouldn’t get a fancy car because your backside occupies a position of influence and power. You get the fancy car once you’ve sorted out the problems you were elected to address. It really isn’t that difficult. Take a look at the Western Cape – they seem to be doing a few things right these days. We have the resources and the talent to sort out these problems and it is easier than ever to find and utilise them using the internet. Time to get off the comfy pre-heated leather seats and get the job done. It really can’t be that difficult to find competent contractors who are prepared to be rewarded for the results they produce.
However, lets not be negative and unpatriotic now (says he disembarking from soap box). We resilient South Africans must look on the bright side of things. Summer is here, the FIFA World Cup beckons and our Zimbabwean guests (who arrived early) are showing us, in the nick of time, how to deliver great customer service in our restaurants. Now that’s worth three loud blasts of the vuvuzela!