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Big Brother in Zuma's castle

By Zukile Majova | Sep 14, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IT WAS inevitable that President Jacob Zuma would have to appoint a Big Brother figure to ensure an outcomes-based performance from ministers and government in general.

Former president Thabo Mbeki's critics were irked by his failure to get rid of laggards and under-performers in government, with some ministers widely described as "deadwood".

With R787billion injected into the economy as a stimulus to drive economic recovery and to spur on faster economic growth, the ministry of performance monitoring and evaluation has a major role to ensure the service delivery outcomes match the invested monetary resources.

Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, is in this regard the Big Brother in the Zuma castle.

It will be his ability to ensure massive government expenditure yields the necessary results that will shape Zuma's legacy.

He is Zuma's points man.

The real work of Chabane's office began in earnest two weeks ago, when he led a visit by a delegation of ministers to Balfour in Mpumalanga, where Zuma started his unannounced visits to municipalities and departments.

Improving government accountability is expected to define the culture of governance under Zuma.

Two weeks ago the minister unveiled the much-anticipated Green Paper on performance monitoring and evaluation, with clear indications that the Zuma government was serious about meeting its mandate.

Man on a mission

There were also disappointments since it has become clear that Chabane's monitoring role does not extend to give him powers to fire laggards in the public service.

Chabane is a man on a mission. "While we have made advances since 1994 and while we have improved access to basic services, the outcomes we have produced have often been below standard.

"Massive increases in expenditure on services have not always brought results we wanted or our people expected. We need to understand and accept why we have too often not met our objectives in delivery of quality services," he said.

Chabane said his task was to review systems that had failed in the past, introduce new systems and change the entire psyche of government.

"The reasons (for previous inefficiency) vary from, among other things, a lack of political will, inadequate leadership, management weaknesses, inappropriate institutional design and misaligned decision rights.

"The absence of a strong performance culture with effective rewards and sanctions has also played a part," he said.

Chabane has identified education, health, safety, economic growth with the creation of decent jobs and rural development as priority areas. "Collectively, these five priorities constitute over 60percent of our budget so we must derive value from them."

Big disappointment

Perhaps the biggest disappointment would be that the Zuma government has not given Chabane the necessary powers to ensure he succeeds in his job.

He told a media briefing at the Union Buildings on Friday that he had no powers to police ministers, premiers, mayors and councillors.

"The main reason for performance monitoring and evaluation is to assist in ensuring government performs better than it's doing now. We are not looking and hunting people down ortrying to persecute people, we are trying to set up systems that will ensure a reform in the manner in which government performs and deliver its services.

Chabane, however, said there were sufficient processes to replace under-performers in all three spheres of government.

Christmas present

"In the Green Paper, we do make a point that performance monitoring and evaluation must have two things - you must be able to reward where reward is due and have some sanctions if it were to be able to function.

"There are various authorities; we don't have the authority to sanction anyone. For instance, if somebody does not perform in a rural municipality, the law provides for authorities to put sanctions."

Zuma's Christmas present to the nation, that of creating 500000 jobs by December, rests on Chabane's eagerness to crack the whip. His office will play a key role to ensure that Zuma's vision of creating a R2,4billion National Jobs Fund yields results, and ultimately that an additional 4million people find work by 2012.

Over the next few months, Chabane's job will be dominated by ensuring every sphere of government has some form of performance monitoring system in place.


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