SA needs a brave and moral lead­er­ship to re­di­rect its peo­ple, writes

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE -

AS ONE of the iconic lead­ers of the 20th cen­tury, Nel­son Man­dela fought for democ­racy, jus­tice, peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. He showed the world what it meant to live a life in the ser­vice of oth­ers.

In his own unique way, Man­dela helped to re­store the world’s trust and con­fi­dence in South Africa af­ter apartheid.

To hon­our his legacy the UN in 2009 de­cided that July 18, his birth­day, would be Man­dela Day.

Peo­ple in 149 coun­tries mark the day by tak­ing time out to help oth­ers. As Madiba – his clan name de­rived from his AbaThembu an­ces­try – has shown, ev­ery­one has the abil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity to help change the world for the bet­ter.

This year, the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to specif­i­cally take ac­tion against poverty. More than 63% of South African chil­dren live in poverty; one in five – 12 mil­lion – South Africans live in ex­treme poverty.

De­spite the pos­i­tive im­pact of so­cial grants, poverty con­tin­ues to halt progress. Only through sus­tained devel­op­ment can it be erad­i­cated to en­sure a dig­ni­fied life for all.

South Africa could do with its cit­i­zens be­com­ing more ac­tive. In Brazil, pop­u­lar move­ments have worked with busi­ness elites to re­dis­tribute wealth and op­por­tu­nity in a so­ci­ety that’s as un­equal as South Africa. With­out ex­cep­tion, devel­op­ment – par­tic­u­larly ef­forts to tackle poverty and in­equal­ity – is best achieved through a com­bi­na­tion of ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship and ef­fec­tive states.

South Africa needs a brave and moral lead­er­ship to re­di­rect its cit­i­zens (and politi­cians) to fight the scourge of poverty through devel­op­ment. Moral lead­er­ship has the abil­ity to ed­u­cate and ac­ti­vate com­mu­ni­ties to re­store hu­man dig­nity.

The coun­try’s Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan aims to elim­i­nate poverty and re­duce in­equal­ity by 2030. South Africa can re­alise th­ese goals by draw­ing on the en­er­gies of its peo­ple. The coun­try also needs to grow an in­clu­sive econ­omy, build ca­pa­bil­i­ties, en­hance the ca­pac­ity of the state, and pro­mote lead­er­ship and part­ner­ships through­out so­ci­ety.

The plan makes it clear that to ac­cel­er­ate devel­op­ment, all South Africans must come on board. Lead­er­ship in all sec­tors must also put the coun­try’s col­lec­tive in­ter­ests ahead of nar­row, short-term goals.

This will re­quire pol­icy changes, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of govern­ment pro­grammes and hold­ing peo­ple – es­pe­cially po­lit­i­cal lead­ers – ac­count­able for their ac­tions. Also sorely needed are in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to com­plex chal­lenges like poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity.

South Africa ur­gently needs to re­cover from the dam­age caused by “Zu­mafi­ca­tion” – where Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is ac­cused of run­ning the coun­try through per­sonal net­works of favouritism and crony­ism.

John Wallis, founder of The Peo­ple Cap­i­tal Project SA, says some mem­bers of Zuma’s ex­ec­u­tive have be­come tainted as cor­rupt and un­trust­wor­thy klep­to­crats.

Many prom­ises, sce­nario plans and fore­casts have not been trans­lated into home-grown and con­crete devel­op­ment pro­pos­als, backed by a ro­bust devel­op­ment cur­ricu­lum, to help turn the so­cio-eco­nomic cor­ner. The coun­try has yet to be char­ac­terised by high lev­els of in­no­va­tion, equal­ity, op­por­tu­ni­ties, eco­nomic jus­tice and hu­man rights.

As such, the hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions of the poor have col­lapsed, leav­ing them even poorer (and less pro­duc­tive) than they pre­vi­ously were. Zuma has be­come a pris­oner of his own mak­ing – both the tool and agent of a self-serv­ing po­lit­i­cal elite, amid grow­ing poverty and hunger.

How long can this go on be­fore the coun­try’s econ­omy – al­ready in the dol­drums – im­plodes and a deep rooted en­ti­tle­ment in­spired com­pla­cency turns into so­cial up­heaval?

This state of af­fairs of­ten leads to se­crecy, deep po­lit­i­cal fac­tions, state cap­ture, loot­ing and cor­rup­tion, as al­ready seen. The grow­ing dis­pos­ses­sion of cit­i­zens amid grow­ing ac­cu­mu­la­tion by a few elites re­sults in grow­ing eco­nomic in­jus­tice, leav­ing more peo­ple on the fringes of so­ci­ety.

Where the state and cor­po­rate bosses are driven only by fi­nan­cial growth and gain, with­out cou­pling it with pro­duc­tive devel­op­ment projects, they hold the down-trod­den to ran­som.

South Africans can no longer stand by and watch their “house” burn. To truly hon­our Man­dela’s legacy, they should es­pouse the values of ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship and help re­store the world’s con­fi­dence in their coun­try. Oth­er­wise, they’ll con­tinue bark­ing at the moon. – The Con­ver­sa­tion

Zuma is a pris­oner of his own mak­ing, a tool and an agent of the elite

Jones is an aca­demic project leader in the De­part­ment of Prac­ti­cal The­ol­ogy and Mis­si­ol­ogy, Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity

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