Manuel admits state fails on services

2011-03-16 14:38

Cape Town - South Africa has failed to deliver quality services to the poor, despite adequate funding, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said on Wednesday.

"We must accept that despite the adequate allocation of funding, we fail to deliver quality services, especially to the poor," he said.

Manuel was addressing members of the European Union and South African legislative sector at the 2010 International Consultative Seminar in Cape Town. It focused on the role of legislatures in achieving the UN's millennium development goals (MDG).

While South Africa had a "sophisticated" infrastructure, a well-developed private sector and a stable macroeconomy, there was unequal access to quality education and healthcare.

The latter, combined with a high prevalence of HIV and Aids, explained why South Africa has not achieved some MDG targets.

He said legislators needed to recognise that the quality of democracy should be measured in a country's success in uprooting poverty, reducing inequality and broadening opportunities.

"As we tackle this we have to be conscious of the fact that poverty is far more than the lack of or deficiency in income." While progress, according to MDG indicators, showed that South Africa was exceeding MDG targets, in many instances it did not measure the quality of the services provided.

The country had met the target for enrolment ratios for primary education of 99.4%, and showed higher enrolment of girls than boys. This figure however did not measure education quality, how much time teachers spent teaching or the dropout rate.

The country also recorded "very high" functional literacy levels.

South Africa was placed at 137 out of 150 countries on a scale that measured proficiency in maths and literacy. On the African continent, South Africa was part of the bottom of the list.

"In fact we perform poorly, even by our own standards," said Manuel.

While these numbers were likely to be less prevalent in the leafy suburbs, they represented the reality of life for the majority of South Africans.

Soweto was an indication of the severity of the education crisis.

"If a large complex like Soweto still underperforms the rest of the Gauteng province on virtually every indicator... then there is of course (it's) a huge problem, because if we don't fix schools in the industrial heartland of South Africa, then the future for many of us is going to be very severely impaired."

He said parliaments needed to ensure tools for oversight and analysis were properly utilised. Relying on official statistics was not enough, and governments should not have to wait for protests to "know what is happening in the lives of the people".

He said several questions needed to be asked, such as "who is responsible and how can they be made to account? Will the MPs and legislators be bold enough to speak their minds and to deal with the complexity of these issues?"

Ministers should be held responsible for the outcomes on their performance agreements.

"I want to challenge members of parliaments and legislatures... we must hold each other accountable," he said.


  • Killroy2011 - 2011-03-17 07:02

    Many retired teachers would be more than willing to step in and sort out the mess but they are not ANC supporters so they do not qualify to mislead the youth down the road to illiteracy. Remember if you keep them stupid they will not know that there could be a better option. Never mind the fact that many of the teachers are not even qualified to run a kindergarten let alone educate the higher grades. Keep shouting Trevor we are listening, but remember it’s not in the "Manifesto" to make the youth wise!

  • capetonian - 2011-03-17 08:46

    After 17 years Trevor, whilst your political party has been running the show..and all you have are excuses!. Let's face it, the major problem has been incompetence, corruption and nepotism, probably worse now then when Mbeki was the boss man ( although he had his blind spots too!). Time to give the opposition a chance! In fact it's difficult to understand what you are still doing with the ANC, especially after your rant about that racist Manyi. You see Trevor, as competent as you are (and you are definitely the best of a rather pathetic bunch!) there is simply no way you are going to a) become President, or b) influence your colleagues to move further away from the influence of Cosatu and the communists (who think that the cart pulls the horse and not the other way around!) We need a stronger opposition to make it increasingly difficult for this Government to continue with their incompetence, poor service delivery and waste of tax payers money. The only province that's being managed correctly is the Western Cape - and you know why Trevor, don't you...

      SaintBruce - 2011-03-24 20:23

      Correction - the cart DOES pull the horse ( when it is going backwards and downhill !) LOL - but really not so funny as government are all IN the cart and our "horse" ( the Economy on which we ride) is not in control as it should be. Question is: who has the reigns or were these left long ago?

  • Oukaapje - 2011-03-20 06:36

    Congratulations Trevor! Your latest revelation is spot on. Now before your nagging doubts cause you to question yourself, take a tour of the Municipalities in Mpumalanga. If you survive the potholes, check out the Police services, the Emergency services and above all, the sanitation and health care services. Not only are the poor being neglected. All citizens are being neglected. We have a very competent team of pot hole patchers that comes around our village every 5 years two months before elections. They don't do any work in between these times. I always wonder how they survive on one month of employment every 5 years. What an insult to the intelligence of the voters and the misplaced faith they put in the ANC.

      PillayJHB - 2011-04-20 16:22

      But people see this Oukaapje. They see how our government betrays us year in and year out, but we still vote for them. Do they do this because by some devine intervention govt will just change overnite or is it because of loyalty? why do we entrust our life in them? the ANC wins by a 2/3 majority! something is wrong????

  • AJ - 2011-04-19 13:11

    Trevor, it's been 17 years now - give it a rest. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. For whatever reasons, you decided to be a part of the problem, whether you like it or not.

  • AJ - 2011-04-19 13:12

    Trevor, it's been 17 years now - give it a rest. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. For whatever reasons, you decided to be a part of the problem, whether you like it or not.

  • Tshepo - 2011-04-26 08:55

    Trevor, you remained honest throughout your service to South Africans! I appreciate your analysis of the situation in our country, while acknowledging that progress has been made, we are still long way to go in achieving & realising a better life for all! a total Utopian society is impossible,but we need to accelerate services to our people.equally so, our people have to rise & realise that this is their country, the government is runnung on their behalf! We cannot sit back & expect the government to fix everything, we have to stand up as patriotic citizens(notice I am not talking to those who contemplate going to Australia or Canada)and remember the words by the slain U.S President John Fitzgeral Kennedy:"Ask not what your country(government)can do for, but what you can do for your country" Development in this land of our fathers is not & cannot be made into a one man show, its a collective effort by all citizens hand in hand with the government. Lets work together, regardless of race or whatever that seeks to divide us, to build this country. This is my country as much as it is yours, do not alienate yourself, join the effort in buiding a prosperous,just,non-racial,non-sexist country.

      ben.tigedi - 2011-04-26 19:01

      Even though you are right about people working together,there are things ordinary people can't do on their own.That is why these people in government are being paid such a lot of money to ensure that people have better service but they are not,rather they claim money for themselves.Manuel is right about people being held accountable,things don't get done but money disappear and no body is held accountable to that.We hear stories of people being given tenders and they buy themselves Navaras and jobs never get done.We see over and over same people accumulating wealth while the poor are left to fent for themselves.I wish Manuel had voiced his opion while he was a guy with the purse,but unfortunatly typical.Problem with ANC is people are not bold enough to criticise bad policies,they are all yes sir kind of people,that is why ANC is failing us.We can't continue to support ANC even when we can see that they are not really concern about us.I voted for ANC x3,but no more.

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