South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday urged municipalities to reduce dependence on consultants, to improve efficiency in local government.
There had been complaints that local government farmed out too much work, he said in a speech to the SA Local Government Association in Midrand. “Some of us are employed on specific skills we have and instead of doing the work we take it to consultants and they are paid even more money.
“Let us reduce consultants. Really, use them on matters that are really technical beyond our capacity. If I am a consultant, I’m not going to be in a rush to finish it because it is the source of my… whatever,” he said, evoking laughter from the delegates. This could lead to an “unending relationship”, Zuma warned.
“I’m doing my job as a consultant, and it is my job to have a job all the time. It is important that we tighten how we operate. If you employ a sweeper, don’t employ someone who is just going to dust on top and not sweep under the table. Also, employ someone who is passionate about cleaning.”
Communities needed to be informed and involved in local government, and be proactive in realising the benefits of democracy, he said. “We should unite our people behind the idea of building a prosperous South Africa and an inclusive society.”
Sometimes I worry when people demand everything, even things they can do themselves
Zuma related an anecdote of a visit he made to an unnamed African country during the liberation struggle. “I got there and people were working very slowly, they were not in a rush, and I asked the comrade who was taking me, ‘What’s happening?’
“He said people don’t work fast, people say they are free. The white man has left, they are now free.”
Zuma warned that freedom is “not something that is in the air.” He saw a man selling mangoes in that country. “The fellow spreads the sack on the ground, waiting for the mango to drop. He is lazy to climb the tree and pick the mangoes. Why? Because we are free.
“We shouldn’t be like that. Sometimes I worry when people demand everything, even things they can do themselves.”