Pretoria - South Africa is at a crossroads, the former director-general in the presidency Frank Chikane said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“Either we take the route of turning the ship, or we slide into a pit of no return,” he said at a public lecture.
He said something was not right in the African National Congress, and it needed to be corrected.
“The policy document on organisational renewal shows that the ruling party has seen that something is wrong and must be fixed.”
He said members of the ANC and non-members should wait for the outcome of the ruling party's policy conference next week, because what transpired there would affect the running of the country.
The ANC thought it was prepared to take over the government, but once it came into power in 1994, it realised it was not well prepared to do so.
“In the first five years, a political intervention was needed to correct the system. You got the old system and the new system. And you need to run a country.”
He said the intervention was that advisers were put in place to avoid having apartheid-era heads of department run the country.
“The system (the intervention) stuck with us and led to a lack of experience in the public service.”
In future the country needed people with skills to avoid sliding into a crisis.
“We need good managers who could manage when political principals move.”
In an attempt to transform the public service post-1994, experienced workers were given voluntary retrenchment, and this left the country with a system in which when the political head moved, next to follow was the head of department.
“The system led to the collapse of the public service.”
He said the people needed to be put ahead of politicians' self-interest.
“The brutality of apartheid produced leaders who were prepared to die for the nation.”
He mentioned former president Nelson Mandela and struggle veteran Govan Mbeki as examples. People, especially the poor, had to speak out against corruption and refuse to be corrupted, he said. - Sapa