Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Good Government

P.72/2008 was approved by the States of Jersey in July 2008 following a protracted public review of the alternatives and considerable States debate on three separate occasions. It is not good government to review the decision taken democratically by States Members so recently.
But is it "good government" to sign a contract just days before a general election in which the incinerator had been a matter raised? And moreover when a new house was due to sit which might have had very different ideas? That would seem to be to be a democratic two fingers up at the voters! On the day when the incinerator debate is thundering on in the States, perhaps this might not have been necessary if the government had been better beforehand.
In fact, I've come across a last minute contract elsewhere - in that place renown for a history of good government, especially during the apartheid years - South Africa. It is still going strong! Recently they have had what journalists are calling "L'Affaire Mqoqi". This was to do with a last minute extension to an employment contract for the city manager Mqoqi, just before the election. Editorial comments have called this a "fiasco", and said that "the last minute contract awarded to ex city manager (and ANC cadre) Mqoqi just before the election was not very democratic." The legality of this was questioned, because it was taken during a council recess, and not ratified by a full sitting of the council. Which is shades of passing a contract when everyone is fighting elections, some on this issue, after the last sitting of the States and just before members of the old legislative assembly finally cease to hold office.

Mgoqi was defiant, and said that "a competent authority had approved his contract", but he was suspended because of the last minute nature of the contract, which was seen by many as an attempt to thwart the democratic process, including the new government. Later, the Cape High Court  chosen to uphold Wallace Mqoqi's suspension, saying in no certain terms that his eleventh-hour contract extension by Nomaindia Mfeketo was illegal.

I don't think it makes for good government to do things this "last minute contract way", even if, with the Jersey States, it manages to stay just the right sign of legality. Regardless of which side people are on with the debate, we are only having it because the ethical boundaries were certainly transgressed.

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