Tuesday, 24 October 2006

You're wrong, Comrade Mboweni

In September 2006, South African Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni, infamously said he preferred working with Afrikaners, who stayed and became expert, to black empowerment appointees who left for another job as soon as he skilled them up.

Sorry, comrade. These people are pulling the wool over your eyes.

What you are witnessing is confirmative action, the process of making it appear that black people are no good.

Here are some of the tricks of the trade.

First, whenever someone shows up with really good credentials, think up all kinds of excuses not to appoint them. Give all qualified candidates the runaround, so that you are sure whoever you appoint is desperate for a job.

Do a half-assed job, while making sure that black employees are not close to the action. They feel frustrated at being ineffectual and unable to effect change, and leave. If that doesn’t work, conduct as many meetings in Afrikaans as you can in the hope that they (probably schooled in the struggle years, when Afrikaans was unfashionable) will not be able to keep up.

Think I am making this up?

I have had stories like this from Wits graduates who have left jobs in the government and parastatal sectors in disgust, to do well in industry.

While you could argue that all this is not doing much harm – a civil service job in many countries is a sinecure and the real action is in the private sector – South Africa is a country with massive backlogs in government services, including education, health care and policing. Bottlenecks caused by the old order preserving their turf are a serious cost.

It’s time something was done about it.

How about externally-measured performance benchmarks – including service delivery, and recruiting and retention of black empowerment appointees? Would it be too much to include a measure of rooting out incompetence?

No comments: