South Africa’s Challenge – Making Administration Sexy

A sailing mate of mine tells the story of the navigator of his brother’s yacht in races off of the coast of England as follows:

Said navigator would arrive just before the yacht set off from moorings in his city suit and bowler hat carrying a briefcase and a brolly. He was some high powered administrator in a London government department. He would climb onboard and immediately go below. During the race instructions would be issued from the navigation station. The crew quickly learned to trust and react immediately to their navigator’s instructions, even to the point of throwing the anchor out during a race and without question, as his steady hand on their progress ensured consistent winning results throughout the season.

Back at the moorings their navigator would step off the yacht and into his shiny shoes to walk away carrying his briefcase and brolly.

In some twisted way that navigator was sexy – because winning is sexy.

In South Africa we appoint administrators to navigate our public enterprises to success. Unfortunately it appears that most of our appointed administrators have become pirates in charge of a ghost ship as they plunder the resources they were set out on their journey with. Administrators are under attack by the very people that placed them in their jobs as well as the public and employees that they have been entrusted to guide on this journey.

In Port Elizabeth the Heads of Departments from the three main public hospitals – Provincial, Livingstone and Dora Nginza have warned the public of an imminent state of collapse and are now only doing emergency surgery procedures due to a lack of medical staff and support from a bloated administration that appears to have no clue as how to run a successful and sexy administration.

The Chris Hani Baragwanath facility is notoriously under-staffed, but this is made even more difficult because of bad management. A doctor there says; “Then there are stock issues: a lack of availability of equipment. The budget is poorly managed, stock goes missing and there is stock that is probably around but no one can get access to it because it is poorly managed. That is a management issue, and it definitely affects a patient’s care if you don’t have the right equipment. Maintenance is terrible, but that is a factor in most of our government facilities. A lot of things come to a grinding halt when things are either unsafe or don’t function as they should,” the doctor says, adding: “There is leaking – there isn’t adequate oxygen or whatever else it is that requires maintenance.”

Today the Daily Maverick reported on the death of Pilgrim’s Rest. And again it is the UNsexy administrators who have to shoulder some of the blame.

Owned and administered by the Department of Public Works, Pilgrim’s Rest was a small but thriving hub of nostalgia, nestled in some of the country’s most spectacular scenery. It has never had any major commercial value, but a fair number of business owners leased premises from the DPW, and the town made its living.

On 4 July, The Times reported that 17 businesses had been issued with eviction orders from the DPW, and were given 30 days to vacate the businesses premises. This was following a tender process which was carried out in November last year, where current business owners were to tender for new lease agreements. Unfortunately for the 17 businesses, they were unsuccessful according to the criteria set by the department, and were ordered to vacate the premises on Friday 28 June.

In the Pilgrim’s Rest debacle the bungling by the DPW administration is symptomatic of South Africa’s inability to plan for, administer and manage long lasting prosperity and education. In situations like this our government seeks to play the blame game by speaking of the ‘urgent’ need to transfer skills from white business owners to black, forgetting that to transfer something from one person to another actually means that the transferor will lose that skill. Certainly not the way to win the hearts and minds of a small section of South Africa already under siege for not being melanin advantaged.

We need to de-politicise the appointment of good administrators in our public departments. The days of carrying the right political card in your wallet to ensure employment should be put aside.

My challenge to the government of the day; “Do away with cadre deployment and other artificial methods that you use to bolster your grip on power and rather do something for all South Africa by putting us and our country first. Demand, monitor and reward service excellence. Stop playing money games with regions that show wavering political support. Showing that you care and can build a model country will get you my vote.”

Let’s give South Africa’s Administrators their sexy back!

Shark Rock Pier Brolly Brigade

Shark Rock Pier Brolly Brigade

Related Links: ECIPA Lend Support to East Cape DoH Department Heads | Psychiatrists Support ‘Rebel’ Doctors | 80% of SA’s Population Serviced by 18% of SA’s Doctors | East Cape Doctors draw the line in the sand with Health Department | Three Doctors Singled out for Misconduct Investigation | Heartfelt Support for PEHC Cardiologists | College of Medicine of South Africa Comment on ‘Rebel’ Doctors | ANC Hiding East Cape Health Failures.