Off the ball
SOUTH Africans might be hoping that the three-day Cabinet lekgotla which wrapped up yesterday gives rise to a fresh commitment to addressing the many challenges facing the country. These range from what is now an obvious crisis in education to the failure of service delivery, with quite a lot in between.
The portents are not good. President Jacob Zuma’s well-intentioned creation of both a planning commission and a mechanism in the Cab- inet to monitor and evaluate performance have reportedly run into resistance.
It will require strong leadership from Zuma to ensure that these commitments do not unravel: he might need to move beyond the inclusive style he has preferred so far.
And as the lekgotla kicked off this week ex- changes between two prominent politicians reminded us that Zuma has another challenge on his hands – one that he takes seriously.
The harsh words between ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale have been characterised as part of a scrap between communists and nationalists – and for the soul of the party.
This is but one of several examples which suggest that the stresses and strains within the ANC in
recent years have not gone away. Perhaps the most graphic was the booing of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema at the SACP special congress.
The ANC leadership has dismissed suggestions of divisions, but it does appear to have become distracted. Analysts, for example, point to the paucity of policy discussion within the alliance in recent months.
It is still early days for the Zuma presidency and those rushing to write it off would be doing so prematurely. There might, however, be good cause for worrying over whether his eye is on the right ball: at this important moment in the country’s development it is incumbent on him to ensure that government performs – and performs well.