Lee-Roy Chetty
Lee-Roy Chetty

Governing by deferment

South Africa recently celebrated its 18th year as a nascent democracy, and it undoubtedly has much cause for celebration. Then again, it has equally much to be concerned about. With one party governing in eight out of nine provinces, and another party governing a single province – the Western Cape – since 2009, one would imagine that the latter would provide a viable alternative model of governance in the new dispensation.

Not so. Instead of providing such a model of social integration and how an “equal opportunity society” works for all citizens, the Western Cape provincial government has chosen to entrench mainly white privilege and undermine the fundamentals of what makes South Africa a rainbow nation through governing by deferment. That is, if it works, claim the kudos but if it doesn’t, defer all blame on national government. Does such a dysfunctional approach amount to a breach of inter-governmental cooperation, and what are its implications for governance and service delivery?

Take the recent “refugee” slur that has caused an uproar not only in the context of rural Grabouw and the problem of overcrowding in schools, but also reverberated throughout the Western Cape and beyond. Nearly a month, if not more, after the original utterance, the best explanation that could be offered, albeit apparently factual, was that the national department of public works had not consented to a request for land usage.

Now it doesn’t take rocket science to ask whether the provincial government or the local municipality had no available land in Grabouw. Nor does it take a team of experts to determine whether “other privileged schools” in the area had absolutely no available classroom space or land that could be utilised to accommodate some, if not all, of the affected “refugee learners”. Does this not amount to expediency and dereliction of duty in its failure to resolve the problem and, for its own political ends, to blame the problem on national government?

This reminds one of other similar incidents of governing by deferment. On the eve of the 2011 local government elections, the Tafelsig backyard dwellers mounted a protest action that was met with such kragdadigheid that it reminded one of the heyday of apartheid state brutality. At the core of the matter was the problem of overcrowding and long waiting lists.

The response after two years in government in the province – instead of taking ownership of the problem and acknowledging the consistent failure to adequately address the problem -was predictably to lay blame at the doorstep of national government. This disingenuous act was an acknowledgement of the failure of the provincial government to provide an adequate solution. More significantly, it enabled the opposition to place all blame on national government, obfuscating the fact that it was governing in the Western Cape and had full responsibility for the problem at hand.

Perhaps the cherry on top in the governing-by-deferment or blame saga was the repeated failure of the provincial government to contribute towards resolving the human settlement crisis in the Western Cape with the huge housing backlog in the province. Instead it underspent its housing budget for two years in a row – no prizes for guessing the explanation given.

There is an old adage that says you can fool some of the people all of the time, you may even fool all of the people some of the time, but you can never fool all of the people all of the time. Will the Western Cape provincial government now take full responsibility for governing in the one province in its control, and make every citizen feel welcome, their needs adequately addressed and their plight and voices adequately heard, instead of governing by deferment and playing the blame game?

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    • Bruce

      Great work cadre, great work.

      I’d like to know specifically in what way the DA perpetuates ‘white privilege’?

      Why should the DA ‘take responsibility’ for the problem of an education system in shambles in the Eastern Cape? In fact, can they? However in addressing the symptoms I agree with you perhaps they should have been more proactive in helping the Eastern Cape constituents affected by the situation if at all possible.

      I also liked the way you try to link police brutality and the DA as if this is a uniquely Western Cape thing…just look at last months action in Limpopo for starters. Not sure how much scope the DA have to influence police training but perhaps you have a point that they should provide some leadership in this area if it is within their power to do so.

      Lastly the underspend you refer to is partially because funds were transferred late to the DA but agreed this doesent account for all of it so that is something they need to work on although I seem to remember most of the funds not spent were allocated for road transport & infrastructure and had absolutely nothing to do with service delivery.

      I’d rather have my government underspend than overspend as is the case in Johannesburg…

      You had some ok points but cloaked as they were in your obvious bias and hysteria they lost their power. But agreed the DA certainly can and should do a lot better if they want to provide a truly compelling alternative model.

    • Cornel

      The analysis, though somewhat one-sided, appears to be sound. but so does the ANC ‘s apporach to policy implimentation in South Africa. the recent events in teh Western Cape regarding schools, housing and other essential services are a direct result of delayed trasnfer of funds and land from national coffers to the Western Cape. One would wonder why?

      i cannot help but wonder why all the protests in the Western Cape receive more airtime during SABC news than events such as the resignation of Nazir Alli or the “movement” of Mdluli.

      I would suggest that whislt we have answers for poor service delivery in the Western Cape now, as you have clealry stated, you now investigate the reasons for similar, if not worse, performance in the other eight provinces.

    • Mack

      I think the point you are trying to make gets lost in the biased way the piece is done and it almost degenerates into a tirade against the DA. I do not think that even the DA will care too much as your argument looses its power in directing it to the DA only.

      By your own token, I can write a similar piece on the ANC’s “governing-by-deferment or blame” with many more examples and utterances by ANC officials to make the Apartheid system the culprit for everything the ANC fails to deliver on.

      Perhaps the following two quotes, also by Abraham Lincoln, might prove to be more relevant for SA politics and closer to finding corrective motivation for SA’s leaders:
      “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”; and
      “I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lords side.”

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      The ANC central government has blocked all land availablity to the DA in the Western Cape for housing projects, including overnight removing Provincial land to Central Government when the DA won the province. This case was progressing to court when I last heard – but will probably take a few more years to get there.

      And the ANC had blocked Grabouw school availablity land as well. Even so the DA had planned for this year – but 600 more children arrived whose parents had not booked into any school – all coming from the Eastern Cape.

      All this has been reported – read a wider variety of newspapers!

    • Rich

      With your credentials I expected a more balanced view. Are you fishing for Mduli’s job?
      The point missing from your piece is that governing in a province is not isolated from National Government. It is a partnership between the two. A lot of the issues you highlight are a mess because of bungling by both the DA and our national government (defacto ANC). To point blame at the DA alone inplies to me that you have an skewed agenda. But then again you are entitled to it as this is but just an opinion piece.

    • James

      Wow, been a while since I’ve read something so biased. I expect that this piece was written to get noticed within the ANC rather than to solve any real problems. I expected more from Lee-Roy.

      *Into the rubbish bin.*

    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      An insightful perspective Lee-Roy.You should write more often!
      Now who would have ever thought that after our traumatic past that a white minority would again rule over the 80% black (Africans, Coloureds, Indians) in the WCape????

      Only until the large Coloured voting bloc awake to their true power, will they be able to control their own destiny again and make the WCape a land for ALL South Africans once again. They need to be unshackled from their BAASKAP mentality and politics of fear and division so expertly used by the DA. Zille’s use of the word “refugee” speaks volumes of despicable policies peddled by the DA.

      Unlike the Nazi’s after WW2, the architects of apartheid had many years to carefully plot and plan their exit strategies and re-colonizing the WCape was a part of that grand scheme to cling to their privileges and ill-gotten gains.

    • James Klum

      Cadre indeed. If the quality of PhD at UCT is this and the view is so biased and unrepresentative of statistical inputs and realities, I wonder for the future of this country. Mr Chetty mentioned no statistics or sources in his waffle of a piece. Is this all a UCT academic can come up with? Congratulations to the University of Cape Town for producing such questioning and critically thinking individuals as Mr Chetty. His Dr. will definitely be worthless when he finishes.

      Mr Chetty could do well to consider some of the statistical facts of the country – being an `economist’. The Western Cape is by international measures performing better than any other province in SA. Yes it has its hang-ups, but in comparison with the rest of the country they seem small. Would you rather live in another province? At the same time, SA needs to get competitive, but it cannot do that with existing and constricting economic policies, both labour and political. It is mineral dependent country, incapable of competitive manufacturing on the scales for which it should be competing, for instance versus China and Brazil. In fact SA is good at almost nothing at the moment other that political rhetoric. Try looking at the tax base statistics as well.

      The Western Cape has seen significant infrastructure investment and good governance where audited by organisations like the OECD. SA no longer takes part in OECD education statistics, because we always come out looking badly. Typical… It should be…

    • Patrick

      Wow Lee-Roy… What position have you applied for with in the ANC? The day the ANC stop blaming apartheid 18 years after it was abolished for every problem Mzanzi has, maybe then you can judge the DA on ‘Governing by deferment’,

    • Benzo

      @Lee-Roy Chetty: “He was recently selected by the United Nations as one of 70 young global shapers to form a UN think tank in Geneva, Switzerland researching opportunities and challenges in a world of seven billion people.
      He also opens and holds doors for ladies.”

      I suggest that you continue your study economics and do not forget to include “state finances (subject: the relation between state and provincial finances in SA)”.

      In the meantime, keep opening and holding doors for ladies instead of shutting the door on Helen Zille :-)

    • Sam Wells

      Amazed that this was posted at all. Really all over the place. No clear focus. Waffle without specifics. Could you clarify precisely what you’re getting at. Throw in a few stats for good measure like a good economist.

    • mike venter

      This does not deserve a proper response, the writer wants to sound like an intellectual by using too many fancy words but ineffect says nothing of value.

      And offcourse his knowledge of the refugee saga is about zero.

    • Jo Mbekweni

      Mr Chetty needs to look up in a dictionary what “deferment” means. It means “The act or an instance of delaying or putting off.” It does not mean blame or re-direct as he makes it out to mean.

    • Shaman sans Frontieres

      Weird. You begin with a statement of celebration, with the caveat that the entire country apart from WC is governed by the ANC. You then make a highly selective and in many ways hypothetical case against the DA of the Western Cape, focusing on Grabouw, Hangberg and housing.

      There is no reason to celebrate while the ANC in the E Cape, Mpumalanga, and North West are deeply mired in service failure. The DA knows full well the housing needs in greater Cape Town and has repeatedly requested central government to release vast tracts of unused land in Wingfield, Youngsfield and elsewhere. To no avail.

      You as a reporter should be perfectly aware that no less than 600 unannounced pupils came to register at the outset of the new term, in Grabouw, precipitating a crisis that could, if we wished, be laid at the feet of irresponsible parents.

      The ANC governs overall by deferment – deferment to the past, to a narrative of perpetual victimhood and a moral standing that it no longer has in the eyes of the world. It is chained to the dead hand of the past, partly because it is fundamentally dishonest about the present and has no vision for the future.

    • Jon Story

      @Dave Harris

      ‘Now who would have ever thought that after our traumatic past that a white minority would again rule over the 80% black (Africans, Coloureds, Indians) in the WCape????’

      I have asked the question before and do so now again: if the above statement is true how is this possible? South Africa now has majority rule, not so?

    • http://hismastersvoice.wordpress.com/ The Creator

      The point which Chetty is making is valid; namely, that the DA government has numerous failures in the Western Cape (and various DA municipal governments in the Western Cape could also have been cited).

      There is nothing unusual about government failures in South Africa. What is, however, striking about the DA failures is the extreme reluctance of the media to raise the issue substantively.

      The Cape Town press has published a little criticism of the DA on these matters, but they always feel the need to balance it with responses from the DA, in marked contrast to criticism of the ANC which is usually presented without any challenge. Hence even the Cape Town press is biassed, while the press elsewhere simply ignores any DA misconduct.

      The problem here is that the DA presents itself as an alternative to the ANC, so it should be scrutinised, but this is not happening. (The howls of outrage from DA supporters on this thread are cases in point.) In my view the DA is not a real alternative to the ANC; if it took power, it would rule with the same flaws, these being excessive attention to the wealthy and distaste for the poor.

    • Peter Joffe

      Lets talk about Plettenberg Bay for instance. After many years of ANC rule, the DA has finally gained control of this gem on the Garden Route
      BUT they have Inherited a municipality that has 3 times as many employees as the town originally had. The employees are all ANC placements of incompetent and unqualified people who got their jobs though nepotism, cronyism and party paybacks. With the ridiculous labour laws that we have in South Africa the new governors cannot get rid of the rubbish that they inherited and most of the town’s income goes on wages and salaries to non performing employees. There is little or no money left over for services that the ratepayers pay for. Whose fault is this? Of course it’s the DA’s because they promised to fix things but they cannot as the ANC has made a mess that will take years to sort out. Will the ANC take responsibility for the mess? Of course not as they will now make it an election point for themselves. The entire problem in South Africa is that elections are politicized and it’s all about the party and has nothing to do with service delivery. Municipalities, town councils and the provinces should be non political but the ANC is happy to make a town or province a failure in order to destroy any good, business working models or plans. In Plett the ratepayers get nothing and the ANC supporters do all the rioting, trashing and demand making. Ratepayers pay for services but all they receive is politics and corruption.

    • Belinda Samuels

      I find it very interesting that the majority of the comments on this article have been ad-hominem attacks on the author rather than refuting his claims with statistics. The Western Cape has always been one of the wealthiest and most developed provinces. To compare it to the Eastern Cape which had two dysfunctional bantusans within it is disingenuous. Gauteng and Kwa- Zulu Natal receive a far greater percentage of people from other provinces, yet they quietly get on with the job of housing, educating and providing healthcare for the people without labelling them negatively. I would like to challenge all the commenters attacking this piece to visit Blikkiesdorp, Hangberg or any other of the many informal settlements in the Western Cape. The quality of services in these areas is abysmal, the metro police use violence and apartheid methods (spraying protesters with dye) to squash dissent and meeting with council or provincial representatives are cancelled consistently. Before throwing mud at someone’s credentials, it might be prudent to check the facts oneself without listening to party spin.

    • Mcebisi

      I am not a fan of the DA or the ANC. I think all politicans are corrup and self-serving but why when somebody articulates an anti- DA opinion everyone asks if he is looking for a postion. This never happens when people hold anti- ANC views.

    • Peter Joffe

      How do you replace the incompetent? This is how the scenario looks as I alluded to in my previous post above. The new ANC Municipality employs people who are a) not needed, b) are incompetent, c) a friend of the family, d) a family member, e) a ‘war’ veteran or to f) pay for a favour. Some of these people were employed by the municipality knowing that new employee could neither read, nor write nor count the fingers on one hand.
      Now there are new elections and because there is no money in the coffers to pay for services, (left after the huge employee bills to pay) the new government, in this case the DA, have no money to pay said services so more riots ensue and the DA is to blame. With our fabulous labour laws how can an employer discharge an employee who is incompetent when said employer employed said incompetent in the full knowledge that he/she could not do the job, or any job other than sweep the building? As is the case throughout South Africa and as the ANC wakes up to the fact that we need competent and experienced people they face the prospect of having to send the useless person on long paid leave and employ someone who can perform. So now you two or three people being paid for one person’s job! If a person professes competence and then proves otherwise it is still very difficult to fire them. So employ at your peril and try to make sure that you get the right person for the job. Our president is a good example of paying too much for nothing.

    • Rich

      @Mcebisi – because patronage and cadre deployment are an ANC religion!

      As for the DA, I do wish they would get off their buts and actually do something about service delivery in some of the poorer areas. People often say that the citizens should learn to not dump their rubbish etc. I say to them that you need to give them something to be proud of first.

      @Creator – the DA is not a viable alternative to the ANC! I agree but we are not spoilt for choice. I say create an opposition to dilute the ruling party’s power to get some balance and then take it from there. Also, as the ANC keeps saying – and it applies to the DA too, is that if you do not like it then join it and use your power to change it! After all a political party should and will bend to the will of its supporters. Thats the beauty of a true democracy.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Both Cape Town and Plettenberg Bay were part of the Western Cape Brown Homeland into which the ANC bussed blacks from the Eastern Cape – which is where the racial tension started to build up post 1994. This is no different to the Chinese bussing Han into Tibet, but you don’t see Tutu, former Archbishop of Cape Town, going onto TV about it do you?

      Plus you see no reciprocity in allowing whites, Indians, or browns any rights in the Black Homelands, which are still a different country under a 3000 year out of date Tribal System. Nothing proves better than the SABC “Touching Lives” programme how poverty stricken these euphemistically called “Urban Areas” are. No whites meant no towns, no businesses, no churches, no charity – which is WHY they did not develop to look like the Western Cape.


      If the DA was the ruling party, and not the ANC, then the question would be asked of them – the opposition parties don’t have lots of positions to farm out do they?

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sorry that should be “Rural Areas” not “Urban Areas”.

    • Belinda Samuels

      Lyndall, are you always this racist or just online? I’m sorry that you see the world like this. It must be horrible living in South Africa thinking black people are incapable of independent thought (bussing voters in) or innovation and wealth creation (your description of the former bantusans)

      Please read apartheid history and see the horrendous corruption that the National Party encouraged amongst Bantustan leaders. Bantu education which denied millions of people a quality education and of course the violence during the struggle that hardly reached the streets of the suburbs.

    • Mcebisi

      Lyndall – The DA frequently shouts about ANC “cadre deployment” yet every single office in the municipalities and province is staffed by DA loyalists The CT mayor – has employed half her family in the metro. Both the DA and ANC need to send the culture of rewarding political allies, friends and families with positions yet this happens world over in the US, UK and it is part of politics. Not unique to the ANC.

    • http://africanjungle.iblog.co.za/ Julian Frost

      “The DA frequently shouts about ANC “cadre deployment” yet every single office in the municipalities and province is staffed by DA loyalists The CT mayor – has employed half her family in the metro.”
      Examples please. And just for the record, that claim about Patricia de Lille putting her family on the CT payroll has been shown to be false.

    • Jack Sparrow

      Belinda, “metro police use violence and apartheid methods (spraying protesters with dye)? Go and Google Andries Tatane. Is that what Cape Metro Police should do? Like the ANC governed provinces?

    • James Klum

      I think the problem with this piece is not that its biased. Its not your usual blame game. Its that it comes from someone who should be capable of assessing statistics and various inputs in his assessment of a situation. Not very professional as a would be professional. As an academic he should be writing something more balanced, apolitical and concentrate on the economic issues. There is typically more than two sides to every story. This piece could have been written by someone in kindergarten. What Chetty doesn’t mention either is that we’re living in an increasingly corrupt country, where our very government is filled with cronies and friends of those in power. To me, that’s a more worrying country wide issue.

      Competitiveness is also a major issue here. Countries like Thailand are booming. They’ve made the policies to get investment. The SA government has done nothing of the sort to motivate organic investment. They could simply copy the policies of well performing countries. They don’t because they’re more interested in lining their pockets.

      @Jo Mbekweni: your definition is the correct one. Usage in this piece is definitely misplaced.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Belinda Samuels

      I LIVE here and my family have been here since 70 years after Van Riebeeck. Replacing white racism with black racism is bankrupting the country – so what I am interested in is accurate history, BECAUSE this black racism is based on historical inaccuracies – the same inaccuracies that have bankrupted all the other black countries! AND they did NOT have apartheid!

    • mike venter

      >>@Dave Harris

      ‘Now who would have ever thought that after our traumatic past that a white minority would again rule over the 80% black (Africans, Coloureds, Indians) in the WCape????’<<

      And there Dave Harris you go and solidly proof your ignorance. Your utterances in previois post showed you as a racist and with little understanding and open mindedness, this one line proof it all.

    • http://roryshort.blogspot.com/ Rory Short

      It is nearly always more emotionally satisfying to hit the player rather than the ball but it is nevertheless a profitless way of debate. Governments are comprised of human beings and therefore not immune from failings in policy and in policy implementation. If we are interested in righting the failings it is first necessary to gather all the facts and figures related to the failings then we can potentially have a profitable debate on the issues involved, otherwise it is impossible.

    • Neuren Pietersen

      @ Belinda, Blikkiesdorp looks alot better than Simmer and Jack informal housing in Germiston. If you would like a tour of Guauteng that will open your eyes to police brutality, abysmal service delivery etc so that your eyes may be opened to the chronic failures of ANC governance I will gladly assist.

    • Gert Vermaak

      Chetty’s bio basically concedes the fact that he is a spin doctor by trade. A painfully transparent and yawn-inducing ANC piece on trashing the only victory out of 9 provinces. What a pity it would have been if all 9 were ANC-run and Chetty had nothing to complain about.
      The DA has dragged the national government (ANC) to court several times over obstruction of administration at provincial level. They have not lost a case to date. The only leverage the ANC still has for its authoritarian policy of Marxist total domination, is their policy of “die wit gevaar” and frustration of functions of its “enemy”.

    • ansiezdutoit

      Where do you come from? Lalaland??

    • Bongani Skosana

      The truth really hurts. When something critical is written about the DA and its shenanigans in the Western Cape then you see all the racists revealing their true identity. Do not attack the author, challenge the substance of his claims. I, for one can confidently state that DA does not have any confidence in black people in govt and is on a mission to replace all senior personnel in the public service with white people even though they have no skills or experience. The education department is a case in point. Look at all the recent appointments and see who they are. The office of the MEC has removed the black staff and replaced them with young white people who have no experience in education. The DA is doing exactly what it accuses the ANC of. Cadre Deployment. BTW I am not black.