Fin24

Hold us to account, Manuel urges MPs

2011-09-05 13:11

Cape Town - South Africa is failing to deliver services to the poor despite its substantial fiscus, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said on Monday.

He urged MPs to practice better oversight over government.

They should not only be asking whether money was spent as budgeted, but also whether it was prioritised properly to relieve poverty.

"In most instances, such information that is available tends to relate to whether money was spent as appropriated, and not the changes effected with the resource," Manuel said at a seminar on role of pParliament in attaining the UN millennium development goals.

Manuel said the problem with perfunctory oversight was that outcomes of government spending "remains hidden from scrutiny". MPs should work to change this.

He said unlike those of many developing nations, South Africa's fiscus was large enough to fund development "way beyond" the attainment of the millennium development goals.

Changing the lives of the poor was more about the commitment legislators had made to citizens than about meeting pledges made to the UN.

"In this regard, we must accept that despite the adequate allocation of funding, we fail to deliver quality service to the poor."

The former finance minister said it was vital for the auditor general to monitor whether money was spent according to public finance rules. However, this was not a yardstick of delivery in itself.

"We need to develop radically new approaches to how legislatures are involved in the measurement of progress - the instruments available are important, but woefully inadequate," Manuel said.

"All that the auditor general's report indicates is whether the money was appropriated as planned, or indeed whether there has been misappropriation ... we know nothing about the quality of service or the impact of these resources on the poor."

Citing education as an example, Manuel said despite spending 6% of its gross domestic product on it, South Africa was one of Africa's poor performers on education.

He urged MPs to demand better information from government officials, and not to be content with annual briefings from department leaders who blamed their predecessors for a lack of progress.

"All of this must change, not just because UN has set this down as a requirement or our donors desire it, but because it is the very least that legislators must do to deal with the ravages and the scourge of underdevelopment." 

Comments
  • DanglyBits - 2011-09-05 13:28

    AAAh Manuel,you`re such a Genius - Maybe Maria has a pension fund to pillage to keep the numbers up !

  • HONKY101 - 2011-09-05 13:31

    Cmon Trev, its time to join the DA mate, they will listen to your ideas.

  • DanglyBits - 2011-09-05 13:32

    You see what you are actually asking for is accountabillity - and the problem is Nepotism,corruption etc. dont sit well with it !

  • Conrad - 2011-09-05 13:34

    Was his car a priority?

  • neilnn - 2011-09-05 13:41

    If this man become president. I would vote for whatever party he represented.

  • Together - 2011-09-05 13:41

    How? By asking, telling, writing petitions, protesting - compiling stats, getting outside voices to talk, boycotting services? How? We have tried to hold govt to account over corruption, violent crime, loss of skills, dismal education, cruelly ineffective healthcare - the answer is to blame white South Africans and to demand that everyone pay more and grant the same govt access to the remaining resources. There is no will to deal with destructive forces in SA, but constructive citizens of all colours have to put up with dwindling services and growing threats everywhere. What about women and children of all colours in SA? Who do we hold accountable for their welfare? One look at rape, domestic violence, abduction and neglect stats will show that giving them a seperate untermenschen ministry has not helped at all. If we had a minister of men, maybe we could hold him accountable for something? I laud the sentiment, but I have no idea how it's supposed to work. Tell us how and we'll do it - we really do want SA to prosper for all.

  • Wojtek Sokolowski - 2011-09-05 13:47

    That is very well said, but nothing is mentioned about the responsibilities taken on by these government employees to fulfill their duties, or about the lack of accountability in today public sector, if something doesn't get done any excuse will do and no one is held responsible. Its a sad state of affairs when we can say we have the money but we don't know how to use it efficiently, Its African pride that holds us back in the stone ages instead on the first world.

  • Coconut - 2011-09-05 13:55

    The national and local government officials that have been tasked with improving the lives of the poor and who are in the positions of allocating the funds correctly are totally incapable of doing so. They do NOT have the expertise neither the will to do so. They spend most of their time thinking up and devising ways and means of defrauding the government coffers for their own gain. That is why the is NO service delivery.

  • zaatheist - 2011-09-05 14:00

    Well done Trevor. It has only taken you 17 years and thousands and thousands of press reports on corruption and countless service delivery protests to work it out.

  • King Solomon - 2011-09-05 14:01

    This should apply to ALL government employees.

  • R.Suppards - 2011-09-05 14:16

    Hey Trevor, What about your crooked Treavelgate Mates that stole R12million from we taxpayers. Does it make you proud to number them amongst your associates?

  • Born To Fish - 2011-09-05 14:16

    Travelgate?

  • kilo39 - 2011-09-05 14:20

    Do the MPs even understand what he's going on about ? Draw them a picture Trev !

  • Exoteric - 2011-09-05 14:31

    Thats a joke 'hold us to account' if its one thing the ANC is good at is NO accountability, you cant get fired, you get redeployed, you steal (sorry you borrow)with no repercussions, 75% of the 'cadres' you call MP's have criminal records and no education, the list is endless...accountability my foot!

  • Concerned - 2011-09-05 14:35

    It is sad, sad indeed. We have heard a lot of these reprimands "you must account". And nothing happens. Anyway what do we expect as South Africans, when top officials appointed in these critical positions are not qualified at all, the only qualification is that they are politicians. What do they know about strategising, financial accounting?? It is even worse because they appoint friends, create jobs for them who are also not qualified. A department should be run like a business, the minister is like a "CEO", if he is not qualified what do we expect? Rotten eggs, that is all. It would be better that these ministers, uneducated as they are, they are clever enough to mobilize a team with proper skills and push delivery, but no they are damn. All they want is to squander funds, get rich.

  • Lorenz - 2011-09-05 14:35

    The basic change needed is the old democratic system of having again the country devided in to Voting Wards of a Member of Parlement per ward be resonsible for his own ward, soley in every aspect of budgets,services and direct cannals acces to the highest level in every ministery responsible in his ward.There must be as direct system of reporting back to the voters in every ward in the country.The voters direct involvment and contact to his Member of Parlement will improve services and budget allocation done to the needed an poor.This will increase the workload of the MP's the need to attend municipal council meetings,schoolboard meetings,hospital bard meetings and need considerble time to attend to his own ward in a prim and proper manner,with pulic open speaking turns and a open office for consultation with his voters.

  • Norman DePluhm - 2011-09-05 14:44

    Aweh uncle Trevor, we have PLENTY money, it's just all being wasted, stolen or lost. Pull up your socks boys, this could be the greatest nation on earth.

  • Slackie - 2011-09-05 14:52

    Pitty you had to throw the UN in all of this, because now Government .... uhm I mean the ANC will believe in a policy of home education under the tree.

  • Dougalan - 2011-09-05 14:52

    Agreed, Mr Manuel. However the ANC has ALWAYS either squandered or stolen resources meant for the poor. And after 17 years of the luxury of power, I cannot see much actually changing.

  • Daemos1 - 2011-09-05 14:53

    careful of speaking too much sense Trev, the powers that be don't like it.

  • Shorts1 - 2011-09-05 14:55

    A voice of undoubted reason and sanity. Hopefully it will be listened to and pro-actively implemented from Zuma down. The means is mostly in place, it is the commitment to make it happen that is sadly lacking.

  • BryanJhb - 2011-09-05 14:55

    Oh please! If u were so comitted to accountability and tranparency you wouldn't be a member of the ANC where such things are an anathema. Pls take your rhetoric elsewhere!

  • Dambuza - 2011-09-05 15:10

    the point of high most importance: make parliament oversight be radical! I think that is realy unlikely because instead of being firm and asking the ministers tough questions the parliamenterians choose to be soft all because they don't want to embarass fellow party members. Real oversight could be possible only with strong opposition and that will take some time before it realy happens.

  • KrayZee - 2011-09-05 15:10

    Damn, after 17 years they realise this!! What an indictment of his own party, including himself!

      Exoteric - 2011-09-05 15:27

      And wasn't Trevor also on the committee responsible for making sure that new power stations were planned for the future...screwed the pooch on that one Trevor..good job, what happened to you over that did you even get reprimanded..now we pay and pay for your mistakes

  • SimpleMe - 2011-09-05 15:30

    Hot air clever Trevor speak. Sounds great in theory, however, in practice, when a particular Minister is called to the Parliamentary portfolio committee to report back or account for actions (E.G. Minister of Defense Sisulu) she tells parliament to get stuffed. Other ministers cozy up to their ANC loyal deployed cadres and pre-agree on a set of nice easy to answer questions.

  • gcr - 2011-09-05 15:52

    Trev - when you and all your colleagues right down to municipality level sign performance agreements and are measured and remuneratedin terms of that measure you won't see any changes after all they are too busy making deals to feather their own nests

      Together - 2011-09-05 15:56

      How? By asking, telling, writing petitions, protesting - compiling stats, getting outside voices to talk, boycotting services? How? We have tried to hold govt to account over corruption, violent crime, loss of skills, dismal education, cruelly ineffective healthcare - the answer is to blame white South Africans and to demand that everyone pay more and grant the same govt access to the remaining resources. There is no will to deal with destructive forces in SA, but constructive citizens of all colours have to put up with dwindling services and growing threats everywhere. What about women and children of all colours in SA? Who do we hold accountable for their welfare? One look at rape, domestic violence, abduction and neglect stats will show that giving them a seperate untermenschen ministry has not helped at all. If we had a minister of men, maybe we could hold him accountable for something? I laud the sentiment, but I have no idea how it's supposed to work. Tell us how and we'll do it - we really do want SA to prosper for all.

  • GT - 2011-09-05 17:03

    This goes against almost every vote or oversight committee in parliament for the last 15 years. It has always been that ANC MP are not allowed to vote as they see it, but ALWAYS on executive instructions. If anyone has a counter example I would gladly be schooled.

  • capetonian - 2011-09-05 17:13

    Does anyone really believe that if this lot running the country were trying to make a success out of a business, they would succeed?? You have had 17 years and the level of maladministration, incompetence and corruption, especially at municipal level is worse! Can anybody give us some figures for what National Government is costing taxpayers now compared to Nelson Mandela's era? Even allowing for inflation we are paying an arm and a leg to fund the lifestyles of the "Cabinet Ministers" and their hangers-on. What happened to the "Performance Audits' and 500,000 new jobs?

      Harvey - 2011-09-05 18:32

      I agree capetonian. Once a week, one ANC official is selected to make a statement that they will improve, get tough on corruption, create jobs, etc. and this time they really mean it. All porky pies.

  • Verdade - 2011-09-05 18:03

    Thanks Trevor...if only the others in your band of gangsters and crooks will accept responsibility...But in Africa it's not the case, will rather blame it on Colonialism, Apartheid, against the African agenda....

  • national - 2011-09-05 18:33

    What we need to run our citys are directors who have no affiliation with politics give them short term contracts and all contracts must be transparent with the public,this will improve service delivery greatly. Very few municipal workers know what's going on! The cost of the stadiums & roads built was the biggest theft,very difficult to prove We need honest and dedicated people on these positions~!

  • pietskiet - 2011-09-05 18:43

    This is what happens when uneducated people are in government. As nice a fellow as Trevor is (ignoring the fact that he cheated on his ex wife with ms Ramos) he unfortunaelty isnt ministerial material.

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