Sunday, August 01, 2010

Broke, badly run and beset by bunking ...

White men can't jump. Sure, and black men can't govern.

Administrative chaos is crippling the ANC caucus - the ruling party's engine room in parliament - resulting in crucial meetings not taking place, important documents being left unsigned, staff members taking off as they wish, and questions being raised about the caucus's overall financial viability.

ANC caucus staff members and MPs who spoke to the Sunday Times this week on condition of anonymity, put the blame for the administrative mismanagement on chief whip Mathole Motshekga and head of administrative support staff Livhuwani Matsila.

A caucus spokesman has denied any administrative problems.

Mathole's 14-month reign as chief whip has been marked by general unhappiness among staff members and MPs who say his leadership style has alienated them and has turned the ANC caucus into an unhappy place to work.

Motshekga's problems were compounded by the fact that he took over a caucus that was bleeding financially as a result of reduced parliamentary allocations. He fired 83 staff members in order to save about R20-million.

He has previously stated that he was able to stabilise the caucus and saved it from drowning financially after years of mismanagement which had culminated in municipal bills not being paid by the ruling party's constituency offices.

But the Sunday Times has been told that Motshekga is facing a rebellion from despondent MPs who believe he is not in control of his office. MPs said the ruling party caucus had yet to receive a report on its audited financials from Motshekga. Others accused Matsila of neglecting his administrative duties and of acting as Motshekga's personal assistant.

"The man is like the chief whip's personal driver because wherever the chief whip goes, he is there. When the chief whip does his constituency work - because his constituency office is in Luthuli House (ANC headquarters in Johannesburg) - he is there with him and not looking into caucus issues of which he is employed to do," said one MP.

A caucus staffer said admin chief Matsila spent the entire World Cup period in Johannesburg, leaving important forms unsigned and staff unable to arrange important meetings or prepare for the work of MPs. Many caucus staffers also used the opportunity to bunk work as there was little supervision during that time

"No one was there for more than a month to monitor our work, so people did whatever they liked," said a staffer.

The Sunday Times also learnt that the whippery - which keeps ANC MPs in check - had failed to meet since parliament reopened last month and is unable to discuss issues surrounding caucus funds, staff shortages and nonfunctioning constituency offices.

Some MPs suspect that the ANC caucus may have run out of funds.

"We are not sure whether we are liquid or not, but indications are that we could be insolvent," said one.

ANC caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo said there was absolutely no substance to the allegations.

"Those who are familiar with reality pertaining to the operations of the office of the chief whip will tell you a different story. Our systems are well oiled and in full swing to deliver on the objectives of the activist parliament. Our experience has taught us never to allow ourselves to be distracted by these kinds of things," he said.

A senior caucus insider conceded that Motshekga was under pressure and needed to beef up his support team in order to cope with the high workload.

"It's a capacity problem and one that must be sorted out. The chief whip needs a permanent political adviser because (Matsila) is doing both jobs and it is not easy."

Motshekga has previously come under fire from detractors who felt that he was not the right man to run the caucus. Some MPs believed that the ruling party should have appointed a seasoned parliamentarian to head the ANC caucus.

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