Gravy train rides again

Here's the plot so far: minister appoints corruption- busting director-general to root out crime in his department. DG unearths suspicious multimillion-rand contract awarded to minister's apparent buddies. DG transferred to sports department.

Here's the plot so far: minister appoints corruption- busting director-general to root out crime in his department. DG unearths suspicious multimillion-rand contract awarded to minister's apparent buddies. DG transferred to sports department.

Sounds like the storyline to a piece of fiction set in a banana republic, doesn't it?

Unfortunately this real-life drama is just another episode in South Africa's crumbling civil service under a government more intent on protecting its cronies than delivering services to its citizens.

The setting this time is the thoroughly corrupt Correctional Services Department, where minister Ngconde Balfour sent straight arrow DG Vernie Petersen packing after he uncovered a suspicious R200million contract with the Bosasa catering company.

But change the names and the setting and this tawdry tale could have taken place anywhere in the civil service.

And these revelations will continue until the government gives effect to its empty slogans, such as Batho Pele.

Anyone who has walked into a post office, a police station or home affairs knows that service is the last thing on bureaucrats' minds.

The people will never come first until the fat-cat politicians' so-called transformation programme emphasises service delivery rather than crony capitalism.

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