Sunday Tribune - - BUSINESS - PALI LEHOHLA Dr Pali Lehohla is the for­mer statis­ti­cian-gen­eral of South Africa and for­mer head of Sta­tis­tics South Africa.

NEL­SON Man­dela once re­marked, upon re­ceiv­ing the 1996 cen­sus re­sults, that the coun­try at least had some­thing to work on and num­bers that count for the na­tion.

Man­dela was seized by the painful ev­i­dence be­fore him. He said the na­tional por­trait strength­ened our com­mit­ment to build­ing a democ­racy wor­thy of the name.

Twenty years on we have the ex­act op­po­site of what Madiba thought we could de­liver, es­pe­cially to the poor. This week’s find­ings on the VBS Mu­tual Bank stand in stark con­trast with his dream.

In Ayanda Mab­ulu’s con­tro­ver­sial paint­ing, Man­dela looks across the ta­ble and dis­cov­ers that he is din­ing with the devil.

We are the devil. We have tried to re­mem­ber him on his 100th an­niver­sary and the world put us on a high pedestal at the UN. But our ac­tions are shame­ful.

On the day the cen­sus re­sults were re­leased some en­ter­tain­ing er­rors of omis­sion oc­curred and the at­ten­tive Man­dela re­sponded to them in a way that only he could do.

The then head of Sta­tis­tics SA, Mark Orkin, in­tro­duced him­self as the head of South Africa while fi­nance min­is­ter Trevor Manuel kept the cen­sus re­port which was Madiba’s.

In re­sponse to this, the el­derly states­man said: “I had as­sumed that I would dis­ap­pear un­der a cloud of glory but it is quite clear from ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened re­cently that many peo­ple that I would ex­pect to ap­pre­ci­ate what I have done as an old man now re­gard me as a has-been.”

The ob­nox­ious rev­e­la­tions re­flect­ing eco­nomic mis­man­age­ment on a grand scale are dis­ap­point­ing.

What is even more dis­turb­ing is that we make ex­cuses and blame the drought, global fac­tors and a litany of oth­ers for our un­der-per­for­mance when the heart of our prob­lem is party- and state-in­spired cor­rup­tion.

In 2003, for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki’s ad­min­is­tra­tion de­vel­oped a sce­nario ap­proach to devel­op­ment with dif­fer­ent out­comes.

The out­comes were dis­cussed at Cab­i­net level and the di­rec­tors­gen­eral would be fully en­gaged. In the last lek­gotla that Mbeki presided over, the Ske­donk sce­nario we are in was pre­dicted with an amaz­ing level of pre­ci­sion.

This sce­nario ap­proach to devel­op­ment was abol­ished un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and the Ske­donk, Shosholoza, Dud­is­anang and Mvango out­comes were never re­vis­ited.

Here we are now in Ske­donk. The end game of Ske­donk, how­ever, is yet to come. Un­der Ske­donk the end game is when the ANC comes out to the pub­lic openly re­veal­ing all the mis­de­meanours, not through the party sec­re­tary-gen­eral com­mis­sion, not through the Zondo Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into State Cap­ture or through any duress, but vol­un­tar­ily as a party re­spond­ing to what Man­dela said:

“May the pub­li­ca­tion of this por­trait of our na­tion strengthen our com­mit­ment to build­ing a democ­racy that is wor­thy of the name: a so­ci­ety in which the needs of all South Africans, and es­pe­cially the poor, are at the heart of the na­tion’s ef­forts.”

May that day come.

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