Disrupt SA's elite, says political analyst

Durban – South Africa needs a disruption of the elite, Lukhona Mnguni, political analyst and conflict transformation expert at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said on Thursday.

Mnguni was taking part in a panel discussion by political analysts at the annual conference of the South African Property Owners’ Association (Sapoa) in Durban.

"The elite in this country are too one-minded in their thinking. All they want is a stable rand and growth in the gross domestic product (GDP). Then they can make their money," he said.

"You need elite who are not money-driven."

In his view, SA needs to build an intellectually curious citizenry.

"Yet some of our policies have no fundamental shift on where we want to take society. For instance, the social grant system should be geared to skill people to take them out of poverty," he added.

Threat to stability

Political scientist Sithembile Mbete believes many of the South African government’s policies are "un-implementable".

"The biggest threat to our stability is inequality. In South Africa we think chronic inequality is the norm. About 76% of the South African population have poverty as a threat.

"Until we deal with some of the day-to-day fundamentals in society, it will be difficult to deal with the political issues," she said.

"We need to allow for 'distasteful' conversations to take place, and talk through these, to see how we can build common ground."

Political journalist Ranjeni Munusamy is of the opinion that there is too much of a fixation in South Africa on policy debates.

"We need to move beyond the policy debate to implementation. Implementation has always been the problem in this country. We need to start moving," she argued.

"The ANC will switch into election mode and fling promises at us, but will these be sustainable? Who will broker the agreement for all in South Africa to agree?"

In her view, coalitions create healthy competition in politics and force people to listen to each other.

'Policy limbo'

For political analyst Daniel Silke, the key issue President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC must tackle is building a more capable state.

He said South Africa needed a best practice policy.

"South Africa faces competition even from the rest of Africa. Yet we live in policy limbo in the country. That is the critical issue," said Silke.

He is concerned that the narrative in South Africa has become severely racially polarised.

"Unless we can lock hands together, we will continue to live in a state of limbo," said Silke.

"Ramaphosa is willing to explain to minorities in particular the need for change.

"Yet we can’t even agree, because there is a fundamental ideological split in the governing alliance on whether it sees the state as a core player in South Africa or not."

In his view, the election year in 2019 will create further distortions. He does, however, give the Ramaphosa administration credit "for at least beginning the process of greater collaboration".

"Coalitions must be meaningful, and to work, [they] must be between like-minded groupings.

"I think there is room for reconstructing coalitions in South Africa," he said.

· Fin24 is a guest of Sapoa at its annual conference.

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