DA flunks defence, security departments


The security cluster came up short in this year’s Cabinet Report Card, which was released last week by the Democratic Alliance (DA). The DA’s 2010 report card rates the performance of Cabinet members and their departments, and failed all the main security departments. None of the departments of defence, state security, or the police scored above four out of ten, while prisons and home affairs only scored a five.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu scored poorly, going from a five in 2009 to a two this year. In her favour she deployed soldiers to strengthen South Africa’s borders as part of Operation Corona, the opposition party says. She also made an effort to remunerate the soldiers involved in last year’s protest outside the Union Buildings.

However, the DA says Sisulu has made her department highly secretive and beyond the scrutiny of parliament. Questions were not answered and reports were not handed over. In addition, her department recorded R1 billion of irregular expenditure.

The DA gave Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele one of the lowest scores of 2010, with a rating of one. The biggest criticism against him came about from his reintroduction of the Protection of Information Bill, which potentially threatens freedom of expression, and South Africa’s democracy as a whole. In addition, the DA says Cwele has been highly secretive and refuses to disclose any details regarding the goings on of the Department of State Security. Compared to his scorecard last year, he lost three points.

Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, also performed quite poorly, only scoring a four on the DA’s report card. On the one hand he did a good job keeping South Africa safe during the World Cup, but on the other hand quietly lowered the crime reduction targets and spent large amounts of money on himself. He bought vehicles, stayed in luxury hotels and put up personal billboards. He has done little to further the fight against crime, but has made strange changes like restructuring the ranking system amongst the police, the DA says.

Minister of Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was given a five, which is unchanged from last year. Her department continues to struggle with several important issues, such as prison overcrowding, the building of new prisons and messy tender processes. The DA says the problems in her department outweigh any progress she has made.

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma again scored a five. She made an effort to improve her department, and has attempted to document and process asylum seekers and illegal immigrants in the country. This is a particularly large problem as South Africa receives the largest number of asylum seekers in the world, particularly from Zimbabwe. Overall, the Department of Home Affairs remains poorly run, with long queues and lost documents, the DA says.

International Relations took a dive from last year, as Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane went from a five to a three on her report card. Part of this was because of her refusal to discuss Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council. Little has been done by the Department of International Relations & Cooperation to resolve or even get involved in the situation in Zimbabwe.

Minister of Justice & Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe, received a score of five, which is unchanged from last year. One of his biggest failings is his neglect of the courts. For instance, child maintenance courts failed to make an order of payment in 67% of all cases.

Minister of Transport S’bu Ndebele did a good job in creating infrastructure for the World Cup cities, but grossly neglected other areas, especially rail infrastructure. As a result, his scorecard dropped one point to four. Poor roads and problems with the taxi recapitalisation project remain big issues. Other issues include badly managed or insolvent entities like the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, the South African Maritime Safety Authority and the Road Accident Fund.

Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan was, according to the official opposition, one of the best performers of the year, with a score of eight. This was up three points from last year and is good news for state run enterprises such as SAA and Transnet, which posted profits. However, some state-owned enterprises such as Alexkor and Denel continue to run at a loss. Overall, Hogan has managed her department well, both in ethical and financial terms. For instance, she saved billions by shutting down the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) after ten years and R9.2 billion of development.

One of the other better performers was Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor. The DA gave her a score of seven; the same as last year.

On average, 27 cabinet members received a score of 4.7 out of ten, which is down from 5.4 the previous year and solidly fails the 2010 Cabinet – President Jacob Zuma only scored a two. This was mostly due to his hypocritical stance on things like accountability, ethics and HIV/Aids.

The DA’s scorecard report only passed ten of the 27 ministers who survived the Cabinet reshuffle in October. Highest scorer was Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, who received a nine, the highest score ever given by the DA in seven years of scorekeeping.

Last year the government gave a sharp response to the DA’s report card, but this year decided not to comment on such scorecards. In a statement last week, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said that, “The assessments are unscientific and based purely on media clippings and the opinions of individual journalists rather than on concrete evidence of government performance.”
“After careful consideration and review, government has decided not to participate in any media scorecard process because these and unscientific and not reflective of government performance in its entirety,” Maseko said.

He added that the government has its own rigorous systems for monitoring and evaluating performance.