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Think-tank believes SA governance system ’substantially compromised’ ahead of Sona

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address in February last year with strict adherence to Covid-19 restrictions. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/POOL

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address in February last year with strict adherence to Covid-19 restrictions. PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/POOL

Published Feb 10, 2022

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THE Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) has made a largely gloomy forecast for the country this year ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening.

In its latest policy brief, the Cape Town-based non-governmental organisation and think tank noted that on the evidence from the past year the South African state is not optimally positioned to confront the challenges it faces.

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The IJR said a robust and reliable governance framework, which is responsive to the challenges of its environment, does add a measure of resilience to nations at times of uncertainty such as the present.

”Our contention at the beginning of 2022 is that the South African system is substantially compromised in its ability to do this. This is not due to the country’s constitutional architecture but to a political culture that undermines the systemic checks and balances that it requires to work,” the institute said.

The IJR warned that a wholesale revision of the Constitution, as now campaigned for by some within the ANC, may be premature if its full potential to provide a framework for the creation of an inclusive and cohesive society has not yet been fully exhausted.

Last month, Tourism Minister and ANC national executive committee member Lindiwe Sisulu caused a stir when she heavily criticised black judges and called them names and described the Constitution as a neo-liberal constitution with foreign inspiration and no African value system, and questioned whether it worked for Africans in Africa.

According to the IJR, the findings and recommendations of the commission of inquiry into state capture chaired by Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo could become instructive in terms of remedying the existing vulnerabilities of the country’s constitutional dispensation.

However, the institute said decisive action would be required to maintain the momentum of restoring the public service’s integrity and capacity.

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”The scale and speed with which the government responds to the report in 2022 will send an important signal in terms of its commitment to clean and effective governance. While the Zondo Commission’s recommendations may largely relate to matters that affect procurement in the public sector, some important interventions can be made at relatively low cost as an investment in the efficiency of broader governance processes,” the IJR added.

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