Makhanda looked a Gift horse of the Givers in the mouth

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Makhanda looked a Gift horse of the Givers in the mouth

There's a whiff of double-dealing about the aid group being stiffed by the town - but it is surely not surprising

Columnist


The news that Gift of the Givers is leaving Makhanda, having been stiffed out of money allegedly promised to it for saving the town from catastrophe, is upsetting for many people, but it surely cannot be surprising. Surely we understand by now that this is the entirely predictable result of ANC rule; as pre-ordained and inevitable as night following day?
I will leave it to the real journalists to get to the bottom of the debacle. Certainly, there seems to be a very strong whiff of double-dealing, if not outright corruption, wafting out of the parched, no-horse town that Makhanda has become in the past few years.
Indeed, municipal manager Moppo Mene did little to dispel such suspicions when he spoke to Eusebius McKaiser on the radio on Thursday, waffling on about supply chains and how good the relationship with Gift of the Givers had been.Yes, said McKaiser, but would Gift of the Givers be compensated for the millions they’d spent saving the town? And seeing as how the municipality had just received R12m from the department of water and sanitation, which was now demanding that the cash be doled out to other companies that seem to have done almost nothing, how much would go to the town’s actual saviours?That discussion was happening, replied Mene.McKaiser pressed harder. “Will Makhanda pay them, but it’s a question of how much, or are you not even sure if you will pay them?” he asked. “Which is it?”“No no no no,” replied Mene. “That question is unfair.”
In his defence, it was. As a bureaucrat working in an ANC-held municipality in an ANC-held province, Mene lives in a world in which the only question one is ever asked is, “Is lunch three hours or four?” It is incredibly unfair to ambush such a man with vicious journalistic ninja weapons like numbers and facts.
Luckily for Mene, however, there will be no repercussions: his current headache will soon fade away like an ANC promise a fortnight after an election. That’s because this whole fiasco is the baby of the department of water and sanitation, which is where the ANC sends the unemployable people it can’t fire.
As we all remember, with an involuntary facial twitch, its last boss was Nomvula Mokonyane. She is currently the minister in charge of working out South Africa’s response to climate change, which means we should probably just set ourselves on fire right now and have done with it.
DWS’s current boss, however, seems more proactive, or at least less like an angry and entitled deep-sea sponge. According to an article published in 2018 in the Daily Maverick, “engagement and building consensus has been the hallmark of Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s style of leadership”. That article was written by someone called Deborah Mochotlhi, who is the acting director-general for the department of water and sanitation, so at the very least you can count on the fact that Nkwinti is organised enough to order underlings to write puff pieces about him.
Critics point to his time as minister of rural development and land reform and claim that he didn’t do very much of either, but I would point them to the R97m farm in Limpopo his department bought for Errol Present, a Luthuli House staffer fired by the ANC in 2018 for his alleged involvement in cash-in-transit heists. If that’s not rural development and land reform I don’t know what is.No, this is a man who can get things done. Not deliver water to Makhanda, of course, or pay the people who got the town through the worst of it. But you can’t expect him to do everything. That, in the immortal words of Moppo Mene, is unfair.

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