A com­pel­ling vi­si­on for South A­fri­ca

Suid-Kaap FORUM - - Classifieds -

Ma­ri­us Oost­hui­zen, mem­ber of fa­cul­ty at GIBS and te­a­ches le­a­ders­hip, stra­tegy and e­thi­cs:

Our coun­try needs a vi­si­on - a com­pel­ling d­re­am that pulls all of us for­ward and in­spi­res us to work to­get­her for a bet­ter fu­tu­re.

Rig­ht now, South A­fri­ca is in a techni­cal re­ces­si­on, w­hen we should be boo­m­ing at 5% gro­wth and lif­ting our pe­op­le out of po­ver­ty. W­hi­le our po­li­ti­ci­ans fi­gu­re out how to con­vin­ce us to vo­te for them in 2019, the coun­try waits for le­a­ders­hip. Let’s fa­ce it - Pre­si­dent Zu­ma is going to clo­wn a­round until the end of his term and his op­po­nents are going to tip toe a­round the is­su­es, trying not to up­set any of the facti­ons that t­hey de­pend on for a tic­ket to the U­ni­on Buil­dings. The op­po­si­ti­on is going to ob­sess o­ver pos­si­ble op­ti­ons for a co­a­li­ti­on go­vern­ment, w­hi­le t­hey miss the mo­ment - that South A­fri­cans are y­e­ar­ning for le­a­ders­hip.

So in the ab­sen­ce of any po­li­ti­cal le­a­ders­hip to speak of, he­re is a stab at a com­pel­ling vi­si­on for South A­fri­ca. Inste­ad of a 400 pa­ge plan such as the NDP, it’s a three sen­ten­ce pro­mi­se we ma­ke to our­sel­ves and one a­not­her:

Pro­mi­se One: E­very child re­cei­ves a qua­li­ty e­du­ca­ti­on.

Pro­mi­se Two: E­very young per­son has a job op­por­tu­ni­ty.

Pro­mi­se Three: E­very pa­rent can feed their fa­mi­ly.

South A­fri­ca does not lack le­a­ders. It lacks le­a­ders­hip, be­cau­se le­a­ders so­meti­mes lack coura­ge. South A­fri­cans are wai­ting a­round for Zu­ma to c­han­ge or Cy­ril to co­me and sa­ve them or for Je­sus to co­me. T­his a­pathy and lack of a­gen­cy has to s­top.

W­hat will it ta­ke for e­very child to re­cei­ve an e­du­ca­ti­on? Po­li­ti­cal will? A few buil­dings and toi­lets? Text­books being de­li­ver­ed and pe­op­le doing the job t­hey are paid for? So­me­o­ne sug­ge­sted ban­ning all pri­va­te schools as a way of fix­ing e­du­ca­ti­on. W­hi­le I t­hink the i­dea is ab­surd, the point is well ta­ken, that if the af­flu­ent and the po­wer­ful had to see their child­ren co­me ho­me from s­chool wit­hout ha­ving re­cei­ved a me­a­ning­ful days-worth of le­ar­ning, the sy­stem would get fixed al­most im­me­di­a­te­ly. W­hat will it ta­ke for e­very young per­son in South A­fri­ca to ha­ve a job op­por­tu­ni­ty? A few hund­red mo­re farms? A few t­hou­sand fac­to­ries? A few bil­li­on dol­lars or eu­ros in­ves­ted in in­fra­struc­tu­re, ro­ad, rail, ports and de­cent pu­blic trans­por­ta­ti­on? W­hat would it ta­ke to gi­ve e­very per­son access to ba­sic he­alth ca­re and the me­ans to feed their fa­mi­ly? The­se are t­hings within our re­ach.

I be­lie­ve in South A­fri­ca and in the in­gen­ui­ty of South A­fri­cans. It would ta­ke less than two de­ca­des to trans­form t­his coun­try. Fi­ve y­e­ars to fix e­du­ca­ti­on and get child­ren le­ar­ning in pe­a­ce and qui­te with so­me food in their sto­ma­chs. Fi­ve y­e­ars to ex­pand our in­dus­tri­al in­fra­struc­tu­re and a­not­her fi­ve to de­cen­tra­li­se and mas­si­ve­ly ex­pand our va­lue chains in e­ner­gy, vehi­cle com­po­nent ma­nu­fac­tu­ring and a few ot­her high-end ma­nu­fac­tu­ring sec­tors, w­hi­le we be­co­me a the call-cen­t­re ex­pert on the con­tent. A fi­nal fi­ve y­e­ars to fun­da­men­tal­ly trans­form our food se­cu­ri­ty sy­stem from a small pool of highly con­so­li­da­ted play­ers to a ta­pe­stry of lo­ca­li­sed sup­ply chains to ad­dress both the need for jobs and the stra­te­gic food se­cu­ri­ty risk we now fa­ce.

T­his is not a call for go­vern­ment to get its act to­get­her. For the me­di­um term our go­vern­ment will most li­ke­ly be in­dis­tin­guis­ha­ble from the un­for­tu­na­te par­ty-po­li­ti­cal spar­ring that is ty­pi­cal of a we­ak po­pu­list de­mo­cra­cy. T­his is a call for South A­fri­cans to do w­hat we do be­st - get on with it. Ma­ke a plan. De­ci­de that we will succeed as a coun­try in spi­te of our po­li­ti­ci­ans, not be­cau­se of them.

Just i­ma­gi­ne if the me­a­ning of being South A­fri­can in­clu­ded a com­mit­ment to three car­di­nal t­hings; e­du­ca­ti­on for the young, pro­ducti­ve em­ploy­ment for the a­ble and a de­cent me­al for e­very de­pen­dant. Su­re­ly that’s the rig­ht pla­ce to start? We would not be re­a­ching for the starts, but we would be laying a foun­da­ti­on on which to build, and we ha­ve to start so­mew­he­re.

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