Incompetence seems key for job security

I often ask the question: why is it that people are not fired for incompetence in South Africa?

I often ask the question: why is it that people are not fired for incompetence in South Africa?

In business people are shifted from department to department for failing to do their jobs. In politics, comrades are endlessly redeployed. It is a revolving door.

The fact that they are useless at all in their jobs does not matter. At least their bosses seem to be busy doing something.

Who suffers? The poor.

The most criminal illustration of this phenomenon can be seen in government departments, where officials seem to think that they are in their jobs for life.

Ask Kabelo Thibedi. He has been pushed around for years by the Department of Home Affairs and is now going to jail.

But the incompetents who have ruined his life - now effectively marking him for life as a criminal - will continue to earn their fat salaries.

Obviously one cannot go around firing people willy-nilly. But I must say that it boggles the mind that so many people in cabinet, for example, remain in their cosy seats for years while blatantly bringing the country into disrepute.

The actions of health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang regarding HIV-Aids are a case in point.

So what we have here is a culture where people enter jobs and think that they will be in them forever.

They know that their bosses will not fire them - no matter what gross misconduct they engage in - and therefore treat people they come into contact with insensitively and with contempt.

This must come to an end. People must do their jobs with the full knowledge that if they do them well they will not be compared to or be treated in the same way as some incompetent in the same position.

Those who do their jobs well and with dedication must know that they will be promoted for the hard work they put in.

Those who do not work hard must know that they will be replaced with dedicated staffers.

That is how one builds a great country.

It was thus with great happiness that I read in the Sowetan last week that Limpopo premier Sello Moloto had fired two of his MECs. To see a reshuffle of any kind in our government these days is cause for celebration because people now stay in jobs for so long one starts wondering if they actually exist.

Moloto fired roads and transport MEC Stan Motimele and sports, arts and culture MEC Joe Maswanganyi.

Sources say Motimele failed to act on evidence that his department had spent R25,5million irregularly.

Maswanganyi's department had received two bad reports from the auditor-general for two consecutive financial years.

Sowetan also wrote that Motimele had failed to act when the consulting firm he had appointed advised him to take action against officials implicated in the fiasco. When Motimele was advised to resign by ANC MPLs, he apparently said they were merely debating.

Now, I have known Maswanganyi personally when he was a fiery leader in the ANC Youth League and he has always struck me as competent. But even he must acknowledge that two successive qualified reports from the auditor-general are not a good reflection on him.

Motimele's case definitely shouts out for a firing, and thankfully Moloto has done the right thing here. Leading by example also includes taking hard and unpopular decisions, and Moloto did not shirk his responsibilities. We should all be glad for leaders like him.

Others in the province do not think he has done so well, though. Soviet Lekganyane, provincial secretary of the Young Communist League, said the decision was "brutally heartless, tribalistic and bordering on retribution".

I laughed when I read this. Where is tribalism here - the two fired MECs do not belong to the same tribal group? Where is the heartless brutality? What is this retribution for?

Lekganyane's statement displays the sort of paucity of thought that has come to dominate the left-wing recently. He should go home and read his late comrade Peter Mokaba's treatise on "left-wing infantilism". Because this is clearly it.

All those who wish to see a culture of accountability infuse our workplaces, should emulate Moloto's actions. Whether we are in business, politics or the civil service, we must all know that we should do our best for our people - or else the axe will fall.

The Lekganyanes of this world might want a world where there is no accountability, but remember this: they are a minority. The vast majority of us applaud Moloto.

All Moloto needs to do now is get rid of his new special adviser Norman Mashabane, the former envoy accused of sexually harassing his workers.

If he does that, he will get a 10/10 from us.