Sunday, January 03, 2010

How Can South Africa Improve, If Everything Is Going To The Dogs?


A great article by William Gumede. Frankly, I don't see any inspiring leadership on the horizon. And it is this "fact" that tears my heart out, "knowing" that South Africa will never be a country worth raising a family in again vis-a-vis Rhodesia.

South Africa Inc is unravelling.

Troublingly, we are experiencing a poverty of ideas across the political spectrum over how to steer the country out of the morass.

Such is the leadership, such are the ideas and moral vacuum that the courts are now frequently being asked to pronounce on the difficult moral, cultural and social questions of the day.

South Africa is a broken society - which demands extraordinary, capable leadership, fresh ideas and a new direction. The country is stuck in a number of interlocking crises. An HIV/Aids pandemic has been neglected. Poverty and unemployment remain stubbornly high. The economic storm clouds are far from disappearing. Crime is soaring. There is a pervasive air of public corruption. Democratic institutions are battered. Racial mistrust persists.

We are battling the consequences of broken families, communities and individuals.

To make matters worse, across the political divide there is a stubborn denial of the gravity of the problems. Some seek solace in the glib belief that by some miracle things will get better. Yet others are paralysed, arguing, doomsday-like, that our problems are too overwhelming, and so do nothing.

To make matters worse, the accepted "truths" that guided us in the past are now mostly limited or outdated. We have now reached the end of ideology. The certainties of the Left, Centre or Right are gone. In a deep-seated crisis such as this, it is seductively easy to retreat to old ideas, ideologies and old-style leadership. Some, for example, call for nationalisation; yet the public services cannot collect refuse bins regularly. Will we let the same people we are blaming for running the Department of Home Affairs into the ground run Standard Bank?

In such moments of deep uncertainty, there is often a demand for racial solidarity, to rally even behind dubious individuals, merely on the basis of their blackness, whiteness or ideology, rather than their capabilities or moral values.

In fact, in confusing periods like this, populist leaders often emerge with their Christmas bag full of appealing but unrealistic promises as people search desperately for leaders who can reassure and offer quick fixes.

In order to steer South Africa in a different direction, this is not the moment to retreat into laagers, whether it is within the ANC, opposition parties or minority communities. Neither is it the time to be cynical or to withdraw from politics, arguing that individuals cannot make much of a difference.

In these circumstances, the battle for control in the ANC tripartite alliance - between Cosatu and the SACP on the one hand, and the ANC Youth League, African nationalists and populists on the other - is the wrong battle.

What is not in question is the dramatic realignment taking place within the inner ANC coalition of political forces that came together at the party's 2007 Polokwane conference, which swept Thabo Mbeki out of the presidency of the party and country, and lifted Jacob Zuma to the pinnacle of power. The broad ANC Left - Cosatu and the SACP on one hand, and the African nationalist-populist group on the other - are finding out that they have deep differences over how to deal with South Africa's crises.

What South Africa now needs is a different political realignment within the ANC family. Not all on the Left are genuine democrats. There are also "good men and women", to use former President Nelson Mandela's phrase, in the African nationalist-populist camp. Within the ANC family, conscientious leaders, members and supporters must create a strong pro-democracy, pro-social justice lobby to counter the opportunists who are exploiting the dearth of ideas, leadership and direction in South Africa. Such a pro-democracy lobby must span the ideological divide within the ANC family. This is the moment to sort out the genuine democrats from the fakes within the ANC.

Outside the ANC, individuals, civil society and opposition parties must also do so. The ANC alone, let alone one faction of it, may not have the capacity, leadership and inspiration to resolve these complex crises on its own. To get South Africa out of stagnation demands mobilising the energy, talents and ideas of all South Africans, no matter what their colour. Good ideas appear to be routinely rejected, either based on the pigmentation of the proponent or his or her political faction. This should not be allowed to happen.

We may need a new language too. We cannot succumb to the temptation to retreat to the old slogans, rhetoric and ideas of the past to deal with the complex problems of the present. Struggle slogans, rhetoric and songs are increasingly abused to camouflage undemocratic behaviour, self-enrichment and pork-barrelling.

Ultimately we now need communities, government, political parties, businesses, organised labour and civil society to sit down and cobble together a new covenant - a new Codesa, charting a new direction for South Africa. Talented individuals outside the ANC must be brought in to help govern us out of these crises. Such a pact must prioritise core strategic policies, which all can rally around.

This covenant must recommit us to honour in practice, not just in rhetoric, our constitution and the mandates of our democratic institutions. Such a pact must be underpinned by a healthy dose of common sense, honesty and a commitment to act in the widest public interest, and on social justice.

Furthermore, as part of such a pact, decency, politeness and respect for others - even if we disagree - must be restored as fundamental values of our society. New ideas cannot prosper, neither can co-operation across racial, ideological and religious divides take place if we cannot disagree without angrily shouting, insulting or trying to humiliate each other into silence.

The same focus and determination with which South Africa is now focusing on hosting the Fifa 2010 World Cup - if we fail, we will be embarrassed on a global scale - must also infuse the spirit of such a new collaboration. If we fail to secure an inclusive pact together to deal with our crises, our country will ultimately implode.

Source: Times Live

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

The ANC is rolling out it communistic framework. Let them continue and we will see how far it gets them.

WHITEADDER said...

Too late. All the kings horses and all the kings men...
One of the main reasons for the appaling labour performance is the labour relations act. Even the government who put this monstrosity in place is totally hampered by its cumbersome and illogical application. It protects the legions of non performers from beeing fired. Until one can fire people for not doing what they get payed for at the drop of a hat and with a minimum of formality there is absolutly no hope in sight of any recovery.