Africa stuck in third-world gear

FRIDAY’S The Herald provided a classic examples of why Africa remains stuck in third-world gear.

The front page carries a lengthy article on plans to appoint a municipal police force of 900 people (“Further increases in rates possible”).

Given the metro traffic department’s performance, that will surely be just another bunch of incompetent invisibles drawing salaries and incurring expenses while they patrol the shebeens.

The proposal to fund them by just stealing from the ratepayers further demonstrates the corrupt and incompetent mentality of the proponents of this scheme.

While a properly designed, properly funded metro police may have some merit, there is nothing here to suggest that the idea has not been hijacked merely to fleece the ratepayers.

A competent authority would first sharpen its own operations. Since when do we need so many councillors (how many actually contribute something), can we recover unpaid rates, deal with water and power stealing, demand performance from those not attending to their duties and dismiss those who contribute nothing in return for their salaries?

Raise the funds in a businesslike manner.

Mtobeli Mxotwa writes eloquently, but leaves out all the really important and relevant bits (“Valuer to smooth land sales”). Just in the Eastern Cape, the former Transkei and Ciskei have some 49 000km² of land and no showpiece farms to offer while most profitable farms handed over are now ruins.

Some of us have experience with the process of state attempts to buy farms and I have to suggest that a prospective seller deserves any premium he can get for having to endure the frustration of dealing with incompetent officials and ministers, and many have had to wait years to be paid.

During the 1980s a massive irrigation scheme was constructed near Queenstown at enormous cost. It never got off the ground due to petty jealousies, incompetence and power struggles, but the water source remains there, waiting to be used for the benefit of the people.

To this day people of good intent are thwarted at every turn in trying to re-establish proper farming ventures with the locals. Government interest has never been distribution of land, but acquisition of the improvements to the land put in place by the commercial farmers.

Valdy Jensen, Port Elizabeth

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