Twenty-six years into democracy, our government employees and politicians have lacked the will, passion and skills to lead any national transformation project. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Twenty-six years into democracy, our government employees and politicians have lacked the will, passion and skills to lead any national transformation project. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

#changethestory: Political aggression grows, president fails to provide the leadership SA needs

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 23, 2020

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by Lorenzo A Davids

Put your lens on Brackenfell or any other school in this country and it’s clear that South Africans are struggling to make sense of what a transformed society should look like.

We are great at celebrating our unity around sport wins, but we are failing hopelessly when it comes to ensuring that our children don’t suffer from that same duplicity that we do.

We have no collective celebratory vision for the future.

We have a culturally-induced fear-filled apocalyptic nightmare end vision that informs whites that the Afrikaans language will be destroyed and that schools and cultural icons will negate their existence.

This same nightmare end vision tells black people that their poverty and suffering will be eternal.

That nightmare may not be a figment of either’s imagination, when one sees the inertia of our political leaders.

The level of political aggression on display in our country is matched only by the absence of the President who should be providing government leadership to this transformation crisis.

South African society remains worryingly untransformed at health, education and economic levels. Twenty-six years into democracy, our government employees and politicians have lacked the will, passion and skills to lead any national transformation project.

They now hide their own leadership failures behind the Radical Economic Transformation movement. We would not need RET if we continued the programme of necessary transformation to build a New South Africa. Our children must think we are both dishonest and bi-polar, because in rugby stadiums where we win world cups, we sing and dance in joyous embrace with people from all cultures, but back in our neighbourhoods we fight like heck to keep them out and our schools segregated.

For this national bi-polar we suffer from as a nation, the ANC carries the blame. For the deepening of divisions and the abandonment of the inclusive nation-building project, the ANC is to blame.

It was tasked to lead this necessary transformation project in the country. Shortly after the ANC came to power, they abandoned the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) to embrace the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) strategy. Later they adopted the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative – South Africa (ASGISA), then even later the New Growth Path (NGP).

Now they have adopted the National Development Plan (NDP).

As the late Ben Turok lamented, what they failed to do was to include the values of the RDP into those successive plans.

South Africa’s move away from its nation-building project towards appeasing global financial institutions brought us to this moment: a failing economy and a failing nation.

In 1990, when I worked as the Assistant-Director for Training for the then provincial government, we were briefed that the civil service needed to be prepared for a massive transformation project.

The then Commission for Administration had asked all government offices to begin preparing its staff for this new national vision.

Our office in Cape Town bought several international training courses that spoke to this new vision.

In 1992, I flew off to the Northern Cape to train school inspectors in the employ of the old House of Representatives. These were a cohort of coloured and white school inspectors.

Midway through my course on Inclusive transformation, a white school inspector commented on the course content by saying, in Afrikaans, “Not a &*%$, not going to happen. Not in my country.” And then he walked out. Two other school inspectors followed him, one white and one coloured. I continued on.

We have a Brackenfell today because the ANC, entrusted with the nation-building project, failed to vigorously pursue toward this necessary transformation.

Our children, already a deeply traumatised generation, are the victims of this failed nation-building project.

Politicians show the country the middle finger when their social media photos show us their first-class seats on aircraft or their fancy meals in upmarket establishments. All this, while our children suffer, in pit-latrine seriousness, the consequences of their failed leadership.

* Lorenzo A Davids is chief executive of the Community Chest.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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