Let’s replace dependency syndrome with sustainable development

Kenneth Mokgatlhe

Kenneth Mokgatlhe

Published Jan 29, 2024


African politicians have misappropriately given a wrong impression to their electorates since the first wave of independence in the 1960s that governments would create and maximise employment opportunities for the citizens.

Many politicians in Africa thrive due to a lack of voter education, high levels of illiteracy, and lack of education on governance and democracy.

As we are waiting for the official election date from the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, it is of paramount importance to remind all those who will be voting that the government exists to create a conducive environment to attract investments which, in turn, will employ people and offer business deals to local entrepreneurs.

It is also important to discourage South Africans from deepening their dependence on the state as it is not sustainable at all, it is costly for the government, and does not alleviate poverty as it intends to do.

We are soon going to hear political formations misleading potential voters who are desperately looking for employment that they are intending to create job and business opportunities for them.

The truth of the matter is that none of those parties seem to have a tangible, workable plan on how those jobs are to be created. The only plan that we all can see is to kick out the corrupt and incapable ANC from the Union Buildings.

My intuition and instincts inform me that there won’t be much of developmental transformation in the communities that desperately want to see a change in their lives. I am of the view that the electorate is tired of the empty promises since 1994, hence the voter apathy in the electoral segments.

We have many who do not see the reason for participating in the elections. However, it remains the only democratic tool to remove corrupt politicians in the democratic state institutions.

I was fascinated by Ramaphosa’s honest sentiments during his sixth State of the Nation Address last year when he said: “We all know that government does not create jobs. Businesses create jobs. About 80% of all the people employed in South Africa are in the private sector.”

Whether you like him or not, Ramaphosa was right when he reminded us that the government does not exist to employ people. There is no government around the world whose job it is to employ its citizens.

However, as I have already hinted above, the government has to make sure that they make the environment desirable for the country to be an investment destination.

According to Bloomberg, foreign investors have continued to exit South African stocks since eight years ago, with a total of $50 billion leaving the market. How many jobs have been lost as a result of this?

When I was covering poor service delivery, bad governance, and corruption in the collapsed municipalities around the North West province, I realised there was a common practice where the municipal political principal employed excessive numbers which stretched the municipality’s payroll too wide, where employees would not be paid due to insufficient funds.

It was clear that the municipalities in the North West in particular and South Africa in general did not exist to champion issues of quality service delivery. Instead, they were abused as employment agencies of political principals.

Truth hurts, as the saying goes. Ramaphosa was wrongly ridiculed for stating that the government is not an employment agency. That is the nature of many South Africans as we are just not ready to listen to the facts. We prefer to be lied to.

With his Black Consciousness history, I thought he would bring back self-help initiatives in the communities where we would be encouraged to pursue community development initiatives, where we would draw our monthly income while we contribute to the transformation of the communities in which we live.

In 2017, during the ANC’s national conference, I was happy because both Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Ramaphosa have a Black Consciousness historical association, just like Kgalema Motlanthe. I thought that any of them who won the conference would help us to build a capable state.

For us to build such a state, we must first encourage our communities to embark on what we term sustainable development. Sustainable development has come to be a buzzword during the pursuance of the Sustainable Development Goals which are a set of goals that every UN member state seeks to achieve.

Our government should help to empower the powerless. That is done through allowing the active involvement and participation of everyone in the economy. We cannot sustain throwing money whenever there is a problem. Some problems need thinking, not money.

Mokgatlhe is a political writer and columnist studying towards his Master’s in African Sustainable Communities, African Studies, at Ben Gurion University.

The Star