The ANC’s horrific record of maintenance and repair – Ed Herbst

The words ‘preventative maintenance’ are an anathema to most municipal managers, and other deployed cadres at every level of service delivery in South Africa, as Ed Herbst so tellingly illustrates. I’d suggest that should a handful of seasoned journalists who’ve recorded South Africa’s political transition and subsequent events put their institutional memories together, we’d have a book of horror. My chilling five cents worth, (off the top), includes the avoidable deaths of 80 Ukhahlamba district children, (near Barkly East), of diarrhoeal diseases between January and April 2008. I hit a wall of official denial, avoidance and obfuscation about a malfunctioning and decaying water reticulation and purification system. An epidemiological report later confirmed that the purification process broke down in October 2007, with water tests revealing elevated levels of bacteria and Escherichia coli from then through until March 2008. As I also reported in the SA Medical Journal (July 2009), a comprehensive government-commissioned report found that 85% of the country’s sewage system infrastructure was ‘dilapidated’ and that the overall neglect of the country’s water and sanitation systems would cost R56 billion to repair. That’s R4 billion more than the 2007 cost projection for the national HIV plan to treat 80% of those who needed ARV’s by 2011. And we boast about funding the world’s largest ARV rollout! Ukhahlamba was found to have twice the acceptable accumulative risk levels (with a score of 14), but wait for it; Mpumalanga’s waste water treatment works at Morgenzon in the Dipaleseng Municipality, scored a vile 39 (more than 5 times acceptable risk levels). I may have missed just how the government has responded to the 2009 report, but a Carte Blanche follow up would be fascinating …If it has gathered dust, then the health time bomb is now way more potent. – Chris Bateman

By Ed Herbst*

Since November 2007, most Sannieshof residents have withheld rates from the municipality because of a lack of service delivery. Instead they paid the rates into a trust account. Designated ratepayers then draw funds to carry out municipal services themselves. – Farmers Weekly 11/6/2009

“It’s in poor shape, almost nothing works and it’s held together by sticky tape almost.” He said the state of Lotus FM’s studio “isn’t a reflection of our station manager, rather the SABC as a whole”. – Neville Pillay, former Lotus FM presenter of the Morning Rush radio programme in the Durban regional office of the SABC who tendered his immediate resignation after being physically threatened.

The Unbearable Lightness of Deployed Cadre Being

Parliament recently heard that changes to the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation (MOI), drafted at the behest of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi in 2014, were never filed with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (Cipro).

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

There was thus no legal basis for the appointments of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, James Aguma and their crony cabal and neither was there any legal justification for the removal of board members Rachel Kalidass, Hope Zinde  and Ronnie Lubisi. They were unilaterally and illegally driven out because they expressed concerns about President Jacob Zuma’s conduit, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

This was just the banal, everyday ANC uselessness that we have, perforce, become resigned to, but it was another SABC story that caught my eye.

What is crippling and will continue to cripple this country is the absence of an ethos of preventative maintenance and, in this regard, the SABC is South Africa in microcosm.

As former SABC employee Neville Pillay indicated in an anchor quote to this article, the SABC building in Durban is coming apart at the seams, as are all the other state broadcaster buildings.

Preventative maintenance you see is, to paraphrase Michael Hulley (the Caprikat and Foxwhelp executive who, without any track record in the industry, became an overnight oil billionaire) – a ‘Western paradigm’.

Just how dilapidated the SABC buildings are after two decades of being under ANC control became obvious when Auckland Park staff, in fear of their lives, started using the stairs in that multi-storey building in February 2015 because they considered the lifts to be unsafe.

Satirical message

The ANC’s deployed parasites in Auckland Park were infuriated when, a few months earlier, staff were alerted to this danger by a satirical message posted in the lifts.

One can understand the distress of the SABC mandarins. Did their ungrateful subordinates not understand that there were more important projects to spend money on rather than ensuring that their work environment complied with the OSH Act?

To cite just three of a litany of corruption scandals  – blowing more than R3 million on 2010 SWC tickets despite an injunction from Pravin Gordhan and blowing a quarter of a million rand to send Justice Ndaba, a crony of then SABC board chairman and current Denton’s report suppressor, Dr Ben Ngubane, on an outing to England which, according to overseas reports, saw prostitutes patronised but not paid. Then, of course, there were the obligatory golden handshakes to be funded.

A protestor holds a banner suggesting the African National Congress (ANC) is “For Sale” during a nationwide march against corruption in Cape Town, South Africa, on September 30, 2015.  Photographer: Halden Krog/Bloomberg

The snouters at the Auckland Park trough know, however, that when the place is on the verge of collapse, Loot-freely House will bail them out as it did on the watch of Dali Mpofu, Snuki Zikalala and Christine Qunta in November 2009 – ask Dudu Myeni, she’ll tell you!

The state broadcaster’s preventative maintenance-defaulting vultures came home to roost when, on 11 April 2014, television screens carrying SABC 1, 2, 3, and the SABC News channels on DStv went to black for several hours affecting viewers through the country.

So, our hallowed ‘Intellectual Lecher’ sent the group head of technology Sipho Masinga on an inspection tour of SABC buildings throughout the country.

Masinga’s report in November that year indicated that technologically, the SABC was running on empty and because of two decades of snouting by the Louboutin Libertarians there had been no preventative maintenance done and it would cost R2 billion to solve these ‘challenges’.

Motsoeneng solved the problem by suspending and then firing Masinga who testified about these abuses in parliament last December.

When the country realised, back in 1995, that current presidential contender, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had, without punitive consequence, steered R14 million in the direction of Serafina II – a play which nobody can recall seeing  and which had as much effect on the HIV-AIDS pandemic as the regular consumption of madumbis and Virodene –  the snouting floodgates opened and the politics-of-the-stomach KFC Compradores  and McDonalds Majoritarians were not found wanting or waiting.

A lucrative subdivision of ANC Snouting Inc. has been the channelling of hundreds of millions of rands to ‘consultants’, some of whom don’t exist and some of those that do, don’t deliver but do immediately take delivery of the upfront and in-advance tenderpreneur payments. One needs a Lamborghini and a riverside mansion, you know, particularly if you have strong family ties to ANC parliamentarians.

The Western Paradigm of preventative maintenance is not the strong suit of these ‘consultants’ and desperate citizens who aren’t too keen on destroying stuff are left with few choices.

Money in your bra

In the afore-mentioned Sannieshof (where stuffing money into your bra is regarded as an essential part of your municipal job description) the good burgers were faced with the usual ANC indifference to faeces in the streets and polluted water. So, they outsourced the preventative maintenance to themselves.

It is hardly an isolated example.

Many ANC-controlled municipalities are under administration and preventative maintenance as a concept and as a practice has not been considered let alone implemented in these municipalities for years.

Take the situation in late 2015 in Standerton which falls under the ANC-controlled Lekwa Local Municipality. Taps no longer supplied water because of a broken pipe in Commercial Street, raw sewage was being discharged into the Vaal River because of another broken pipe and there were more than a hundred potholes in the town’s Beyers Naudé Street.

The R57 (Golden Highway) bridge over the Vaal River. Free State, South Africa.

All part, you understand, of the glorious National Democratic Revolution and the umpteenth multi-point plan for ‘Radical Transformation’ – not forgetting the destruction of the ‘Monstrous White Beast’ but definitely not ‘Majority Yellow Capital’ which is highly-regarded by those who did not join the Struggle to remain poor.

In desperation the local residents outsourced this preventative maintenance backlog to AfriForum. This is surprising if you believe Adriaan Basson who avers that AfriForum is a ‘racially divisive lobby group’ whose ‘explicit aim is to protect the constitutional rights of white, Afrikaans-speaking people’ and who’s main focus is ‘fighting transformation and affirmative action in South Africa.’

It took this ‘racially-divisive’ NGO, working on behalf of the entire community, just 30 minutes to solve the water shortage by repairing a water pipe and, in short order they had also repaired the broken sewage pipe and filled in the potholes – all a product of a municipality which – like so many other ANC municipalities – apparently considers preventative maintenance a ‘Western paradigm’ and a needless distraction from the all-absorbing and manic focus on snouting.

I have just received by email three photographs which illustrate the urban decay, the total absence of an ethos of preventative maintenance, which has become synonymous with and emblematic of two decades of ANC corrupt misrule which has turned us into a Mafia state.

When I joined the staff of the Natal Witness newspaper in Pietermaritzburg in 1968, St Anne’s Hospital in Loop Street was a local institution, an institution which defined the best in the Hippocratic Oath.

It was built as a sanatorium in 1898 by the Catholic bishop, Charles Jolivet, and staffed by Augustinian nuns. It was transferred to the Natal Provincial Administration in 1970 and handed as a going concern to the new ANC government in 1994.

This is what it looks like today:

The current facade of St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. Pic: Alwyn Grové
The interior of St Anne’s Hospital – 22 years after the ANC took control in KZN. Pic: Alwyn Grové
No sign of preventative maintenance at St Anne’s hospital in Pietermaritzburg. Pic: Alwyn Grové

The children of the now-elderly man who sent the email were born at St Anne’s and he, his wife and those children were treated there with the most empathetic of care for various illnesses over the years.

His email ends with a poignant and justifiable question.


Degeneration and decay

Such signs of ANC-created degeneration and decay are everywhere:

  • After two decades of ANC mis-governance Johannesburg has become a city of ruins as historic buildings – so redolent of colonialism, you understand –  fall into disrepair
  • Such buildings have become a haven for vagrants
  • The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is in a permanent state of dysfunctionality and decay and it has become the centre of a thriving trade in dead bodies
  • Deployed cadres in our medical institutions can summon neither the interest nor the energy to change defunct light bulbs and the consequences of this mindset are most obvious in the Orange Free State.
  • Transnet has an infrastructure maintenance backlog running into billions of rands
  • Filth and vagrancy are pervasive in ANC-controlled municipalities
  • The lack of preventative maintenance at municipal water storage and treatment sites since 1994 has led to recurring complaints about polluted water or a complete lack thereof
  • As one ANC-run municipality after another, after another, after another  is snouted into bankruptcy, desperate residents are having to supply essential services themselves to counter the Luthuli House version of ‘a better life for all’

But wait, – there’s more! Two decades of Loot-freely House-controlled snouting led to another ‘Better life for all – good story to tell’ articleWaterless Witbank Hospitals, schools in crisis – in The Times recently. Here’s a quote from the article that sums it up:

Naritha Naidu‚ DA leader in Emalahleni‚ said the current problems in Witbank stemmed from the local authority’s mismanagement of funds.

“We have had millions in unauthorised and irregular expenditure‚” said Naidu.

AfriForum_logo-Biznews.comIt goes without saying that not a lot of money was spent in the Emalahleni municipality on preventative maintenance – that most Western of ‘Western paradigms’ – and not a lot of thought has gone into ‘outsourcing’ it. Perhaps, despite the advice of Adriaan Basson, the locals should contact AfriForum – as a school in Nkandla did recently

Preventative maintenance ceased, countrywide, after 1994 when skilled whites with decades of institutional knowledge and manifest mentorship potential were paid – your money and mine – to leave the civil service. This enabled twice the number of clueless cadres with no experience to be deployed in their place at twice their salaries. The practice did not end when, in November 2008, the courts ruled that cadre deployment is illegal. If anything, it got worse.

(If memory serves me correctly, Samora Machel implored Nelson Mandela to retain white institutional knowledge and mentorship potential, citing the  detrimental loss of such skills in the white exodus from Mozambique after the Carnation Revolution of 1974. This advice was ignored and the taxpayer-funded white purge started in 1996 when Sibusiso Bengu persuaded headmasters and senior teachers to take generous retrenchment packages leading to the SADTU stranglehold on our now-dysfunctional education system and the emergence of Curro schools to fill the gap.)

To observe the most disturbing evidence of the fact that many of the excessively-paid African National Congress municipal malingerers couldn’t pour water out of a boot, you have to take to the air.

This is what Carte Blanche did a few months ago and their aerial footage showed that the Vaal Dam is dangerously polluted.

This is because the ANC-controlled municipalities in the area have ignored preventative maintenance at their sewage treatment plants and, when the machinery inevitably ceases to function, their Cointreau Communists simply dig a trench and divert the untreated excreta into the nearest watercourse.

Problem solved!

Toxic monument

The Vaal dam is a colossal and increasingly-toxic monument to 22-years of ANC corruption and mismanagement. Tourism companies in the area should feature it on their itineraries and it deserves to be the cover photograph on the Domesday Book of Snouting.

South Africans, as the municipal election last year showed, are beginning to realise that the light at the end of the tunnel comes from the onrushing Gravy Train and it is being driven by the Zuptoids.

In closing, a question:

I know it was worse under apartheid when the National Party jailed its members found guilty of criminality in haste and without ceremony and insisted that they serve their full jail terms, but can anyone tell us why South African civil society only saw fit to establish Corruption Watch in 2012 – five years after Jacob Zuma became the new President of the ANC and 18 years after the apartheid era officially ended?

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.
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