Please, hear people's cry for help

Mr President, congratulations are in order for the job well done so far in North West. Your decision to cut short your London business trip and subsequently go to Mahikeng on April 20 to initiate the process of removing then premier Supra Mahumapelo was not in vain.

Indeed, today it feels good to be a resident and a public servant of South Africa’s platinum province in the absence of the Black Jesus at the helm. I am certain my feelings are mirrored in the feelings of many public servants within the province. Included are also those who were forced to migrate to other provinces, running away from Mahumapelo’s wild wind in the form of Setsokotsane, which targeted people with a different view from his.

And added to this, members of the ANC in the province – whom the Black Jesus relegated out of organisational configurations – cannot hide their feelings of rejuvenation. Truly a meaningful change has befallen the province and, rest assured, people are embracing it. The consultative process-driven approach you elected and your direct personal participation in engaging all stakeholders has led the province, both at government and party level, to see the back of Mahumapelo. Granted, it took almost four months to resolve the impasse but, to my comfort, I see no comebacks on your approach. It was thorough and solid.

Even as your party’s national executive committee deployee in the province, Obed Bapela, tried his best to frustrate your efforts by conniving with Mahumapelo, you emerged the victor and so we are liberated.

Since Mahumapelo’s departure, fear has evaporated among the public servants in the boardrooms. We have now reclaimed our confidence to express ourselves openly about issues before us without fear of being branded as the anti-Supra dissidents. Notwithstanding the fact that cellphones and laptops of some among us remained illegally bugged on his instruction, today we feel invigorated and we can express our opinions on the work of government publicly, something we dared not do previously. We feel encouraged to apply for positions, knowing that appointment decisions will be informed by merit.

Truth be told Mr President, Mahumapelo purposefully drew the line between competency and personal loyalty and the latter was given preference when making appointments. Hence, within the system, there were two groups: those who worked for him and the often-sidelined others who worked for the government.

However, Mahumapelo’s departure must not be the end of the road. He has duplicated himself within the system and therefore his predispositions are entrenched. In other words, his network of patronage is still intact and it ought to be dismantled. Those who lent a helping hand for him to loot the state coffers unabated should follow suit. Where required they must be subjected to the due process of the law, be it labour and/or criminal. Here, Mr President, I refer to those public servants whose loyalty was married to Mahumapelo to the extent that they saw the law in him and thus chose to abide by his instructions, even if such were in contrast with the legislative prescripts and policies governing their work.

For your party to regain the confidence of the people, particularly as the next elections draw nearer, there is a need to root out rogue elements, which wilfully and purposefully participated in the collapse of the provincial administration. Mahumapelo’s most senior public servant in the form of the director-general Lydia Sebego has voluntarily vacated her position. Heads of provincial departments, state entities and municipalities who aided Mahumapelo to ransack the province must follow their leader. This will send a strong message to future looters.

Mr President, while appreciating your successful intervention, I am extremely troubled that it took community protests, accompanied by the torching of property, until the highest office in the land deemed it necessary to intervene. Torching of property cannot be condoned, given that it is naturally regressive; however, thus far it appears to be the sole method to get the attention of the government. It’s my assumption that had this not been the case, the London business trip would have taken preference over our pain and stress at the hands of Mahumapelo. This, I unequivocally assert, was a serious shortcoming on the part of government. It is my view that government must be prompted – rather than forced through destructive protests – to respond to community issues. A letter or a simple request for a meeting should be sufficient for a responsive government to give audience to its citizens.

Regards

Kgabo Maditodi

- Maditodi is a public servant based in North West

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