SA can take a leaf from cup

DA LEADER Hellen Zille says South Africa can learn much from the World Cup when it comes to improving service delivery.

DA LEADER Hellen Zille says South Africa can learn much from the World Cup when it comes to improving service delivery.

In a statement yesterday Zille lauded the efficiency of the criminal justice system during the World Cup.

She pointed out how the 56 "World Cup courts" set up throughout the country had "efficiently and expeditiously finalised cases.

"Justice in South Africa has never been this quick: Two armed men rob three foreign journalists at gun point on a Wednesday, police arrest them on the Thursday and by Friday night they've been tried, convicted and begun serving 15-year sentences."

She contrasted this with the situation described by the then deputy minister of Justice Johnny de Lange two years ago

De Lange then described the criminal justice system as "dysfunctional".

Zille pointed out that despite commitments made in 2008 to remedy the situation not much had changed.

The DA leader also contrasted the speed with which Greenpoint Stadium was revamped with the tardiness displayed when it came to dealing with the 400000 housing backlog in Cape Town.

"What was the difference? I think the key difference was the fact that we knew we had an unchangeable deadline. We also knew that Fifa would hold us accountable for delivering to the required standards. As the world watched, we dared not fail."

She suggested that the same spirit that drove South Africa to deliver a successful Word Cup must be adopted when it comes to service delivery projects.

"We must set immutable deadlines to meet targets in addressing some of our most intractable social challenges. If we can learn this lesson from the World Cup, and apply it in a way that does not erode democracy, it will have been more than worth it."

Zille also blamed the delay in service delivery on cumbersome procedures that were set aside for the World Cup projects.

In this regard she commended President Jacob Zuma for his commitment to reviewing the many laws and regulation that make it so difficult to deliver services to the poor.

But she warned that this was not an easy route because shortening delivery time frames could undermine public participation and giving more discretion to elected representatives and officials.

"There are great risks attached to this as well - especially in a context of endemic corruption and power abuse. There are no easy answers. But the debate has begun. And we must now go beyond talking."