The pension crisis in the Eastern Cape statement by Bantu Holomisa (08 January 1998)

The crisis in the Eastern Cape regarding the payment of thousands of pensioners is symptomatic of the collapse of government systems across the country.

The real problem is that the government has, quite rightly, identified transformation of the civil service as a chief priority, but has never adequately planned for this transformation. It was seen not as a process, but as a programme of replacement. A system of packages, sometimes enforced, led to a replacement of the experienced with the inexperienced and the unqualified, often the friends of those making the appointments. There is no evidence that any intensive training programme, to also act as a screening process, has ever been implemented.

It is indeed not strange that government is experiencing this collapse of systems, as highlighted by the insensitive gamble in the Eastern Cape with the lives of the poorest of people.

It may be a solution for government to appoint a non-political caretaker administrator in the Eastern Cape as well as in other provinces in a similar predicament, until the next election. This administrator, together with a team of qualified people, will at least help towards normalising the situation, granted that no quick-fix is possible. It is time that the actions of government are dictated by the real needs of the people.

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