Letter by Willem Landman, EthicSA: Duarte is just making noises about Sannieshof

8 July 2008

Willem Landman
Chief Executive Officer
Ethics Institute of South Africa

The entry of Ms Jessie Duarte, member of the ANC’s national executive committee, to the debate on municipal service delivery (Sake24, 02.07.08) is both welcomed and disappointing.

Duarte acknowledges that “municipalities have a right and an obligation to deliver services to those inhabitants who are indeed paying their accounts”. Then, however, she remains silent about the practical renunciation of this obligation.

She does not acknowledge the problem and can therefore not give an indication of how the government is planning to rectify problems in municipalities.

Duarte is indeed making political noises. She is wondering whether initiatives such as those in Sannieshof are “merely political action, aimed at undermining municipalities”.

No mention is made of the sewerage that is flowing in the streets.

Duarte is also silent about the established culture of non-payment. She ought to acknowledge both forms of abstention from payment and evaluate them on their respective merits.

One is the result of poor service delivery. The other relates to poverty and the resultant inability to pay.

Municipalities will not function as long as people with political agendas, who merely draw municipal salaries, instead of people who are motivated and have expertise and skills – both white and black – are appointed.

There is enormous pressure on municipal employees – both white and black – who indeed have all these professional qualities and who are trying to deliver excellent service in a quagmire of incompetence.

What does Duarte say to them?

Is it possible that, as a result of the “Sannieshof option”, Duarte and company have only now understood that the salaries of the incompetents come from ratepayers who are indeed paying faithfully?

Residents who have chosen the “Sannieshof option” are certainly looking forward to the day when eloquent politicians relieve them of the burden of themselves having to take responsibility for services and for making towns functions again.