We will succeed

2013-06-07 00:00

OUR country’s development challenges are complex. But those who have lived through rough periods in history know that the present situation is not insurmountable. Think of recent world history. Germany was crushed by the Allies, but was able to rebuild. What about the aftermath of the nuclear bombing of Japanese cities by the United States?

Picture the effects of the humiliating communism in Russia and the human-rights violations by the architects of socialist China. And back home, the long-lasting effects of colonial Africa, the genocide in Rwanda and the many political instabilities that degenerated into coups and civil wars. We cannot forget the devastating consequences of the apartheid state and our neighbour, Zimbabwe, also has a lot to answer for.

In all instances, the consequences of any social collectivism and catastrophic political decisions are essentially felt and lived by the citizens. The problems in South Africa cannot be insurmountable.

South Africa is a global player and will remain so. The Western nations have enjoyed decades of sustained economic growth alternating with periodic financial crises. This cycle can be traced back to the beginning of the industrialisation of the West. Latin America, Asia, Russia, the U.S. and Europe have all experienced it.

Through globalisation over the decades, Africa had borne the brunt of bad decisions made by the Western economies.

The current global financial crisis sums it all up. Globalisation has created a social and economic order that connects the nations of the globe. Nations are measured by their ability to adapt to international norms and standards that are essentially dictated by investors through their governments.

Experience shows that these international norms and standards remain in constant conflict with national development expectations. Households’ development issues have essentially remained a national dilemma and are consequently political issues.

Thus, the biggest challenge South African society faces is to achieve a common perspective on issues that interrupt and, in some cases, reverse any of the service-delivery gains.

Notwithstanding the perspectives of development rhetoric, we are yet to understand the psychology behind burning and destroying property when protesters fail to resolve disputes within their structures.

It can never be a sensible act to set a school on fire and demand a new one the next day. Who bears the replacement costs?

Is it the state or the taxpayer? Why burn the kitchen when the meal is unpalatable? The felony is the chef’s, not the kitchen’s.

It is shocking that protesters loot from the vulnerable street vendors when they themselves are making demands for better incomes.

Can we really blame the government for irresponsible parents who choose to abdicate their parenting responsibilities?

There are many irresponsible behaviours that we can identify and correct without holding public institutions accountable for the consequences.

Such behaviour reflects a gradual corrosion of leadership and the paralysis of collective societal ability in identifying and correcting opportunistic leadership tendencies.

It has been said many times that such irresponsible behaviour costs the taxpayers and denies the delivery of basic services to the needy.

How should we respond to these challenges?

History shows that unity has been a fundamental component of societal order and progressive development.

The gains of democracy cannot be allowed to dissipate amid the reactionary behaviours of a few.

Numerous calls have been made for a skilled public service. An ideal public service transforms to a repository of technocrats. They are able to deliver on development targets while meeting emotional expectations as well. Technocrats are skilled employees who are committed to their work and are experts in their fields.

It means experts who are capable of advising their political principals on strategic decisions, while continuously building and maintaining healthy linkages and networks with capable community institutions.

This should result in building competitive and prosperous localities that contribute to a national economy, which is able to participate meaningfully in the global sphere.

Let me end on a note of hope and reiterate that the present problems are not insurmountable.

The current challenges simply manifest the great achievements made since the dawn of democracy.

Such encounters are necessary in order to identify and respond to deficiencies of the developmental blueprints, as well as the consequential diversions to the development itinerary.

After all, democracy is the government of the people, for the people and by the people.

• Nqe Dlamini is a rural development consultant.

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