Friends & Friction: Ignorance is the blight paralysing our country

Muzi Kuzwayo City Press columnist.
Muzi Kuzwayo City Press columnist.

A specialist doctor at a public hospital had been asking for a bone drill for a while.

A tender was issued after snailing its way through the corridors of bureaucracy and, like a lotto ticket, someone won it.

Finally, an excited procurement officer went to the doctor and said: “Doctor, here is your drill at last.”

The doctor was disappointed because a drill that bores holes into a wall doesn’t work well on human bones.

The tenderpreneur in question just went to the local hardware store and procured a drill.

The hospitals, this doctor told me, are losing lots of money because of people who get tenders even though they don’t know the work.

Learning on the job is a good thing – in fact, it is the best way to learn, but when learning on the job affects the lives of people, experience becomes vital. It becomes an asset that must be recorded on the balance sheet.

Ignorance is like death. The dead and the ignorant do not know what is going on in the real world. They don’t know the look and feel of progress and, worse still, they do not have the ability to make it happen.

Ignorance has become the blight that is paralysing the country, but, sadly, it is also celebrated because the ignorant have ascended to the pinnacle of power.

The result is making the lives of ordinary South Africans unnecessarily harder to bear.

It hampers service delivery and ultimately affects economic growth.

Perhaps some of the people who’ve been waiting for their bones to be drilled are small businesspeople who positively affect the lives of many other people in their supply chain.

Perhaps they’re ordinary men and women who have the right to decent healthcare because they are citizens of this country.

When campaigning for mayor of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina aptly described his city as the scrapyard of Johannesburg.

The idea of the famed aerotropolis, he complained, didn’t seem to benefit the locals.

Ekurhuleni is supposed to be a future metropolitan subregion where the infrastructure and economy are centred on the airport as the core of the economy.

It sounds like a great idea, considering that the core contributor to the economy in that area used to be mining.

But, he complained, try getting to the airport from Duduza township – you have to take the taxi to the Nigel station; take a train from Nigel to Springs. Wait. Then take a train to Johannesburg. Change at the Germiston station. Wait. Then take a train to Isando.

Then walk to the airport.

By that time, the whole day is gone.

Alternatively, take a costly taxi ride all the way to Johannesburg Park Station, and then take the Gautrain.

It’s poor planning, and we now know that the trains that have been bought by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA will not help the people.

Often, incompetence is mistaken for corruption. And weeding out ignorance requires money and time.

It requires a large investment in education, with as little bureaucracy as possible because bureaucracy is like a sponge – it absorbs all the resources like water, without benefiting those around it.

There needs to be a whole new way of thinking about how we fix our problems.

BEE propelled us to a new and better place; there can be no denying that, as the black middle class has doubled.

But it is like an aeroplane that is on the runway – the wheels alone cannot take us to the next level.

It’s time to change gear.

It is time to go full throttle and give our young people a proper education so that we can spread our wings and fly.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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