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    Is the government capable of resuscitating the hope of South Africans?

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    The government of the African National Congress has been embroiled in all sorts of scandals in the recent past. The “lost 10 years” as many have made reference to the Zuma era has set the stage for a serious decline of the ethical and moral compass of the post-apartheid era. A glimmer of hope came in when President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected its president leading to the early exit of former president Jacob Zuma. The economic challenges that the government is facing at the moment have long been coming and COVID-19 has just laid them to visibility. The question that refuses to rest is whether this government has the capability to restore the fiscal liquidity and create a stable environment for the citizens of this country. Sadly, the odds say something different.

    The challenges that the government is facing at the moment may seem to them like an easy situation that they can spin every moment they get. Every day South Africans wake up to a scandal that questions the legitimacy of the promises this government made and the willingness to deliver on them. The corruption revelations at the Zondo commission on a day to day basis reveals how the country was milked dry by the leaders who have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the government resources. The revelation of the COVID-19 PPE corruption scandal have shocked every patriotic South African. The millions that have been transferred to companies by willing public representatives entrusted with the mandate of taking care of the public purse is shocking. Does the president have the formula for resuscitating this country back to functionality for the sake of desperate South Africans? Does the president have the relevant human resources to push this country back to functional growth? The success of any organization rests on the workforce of that organization. To answer the questions above, we need to look at the following reality checks for our executive:

    • Almost 2/3 of all cabinet ministers are of pensionable age.
    • Only two ministers in the current executive are not recycled from any precious cabinet.
    • Almost half of the entire executive have been one way or another been linked with some scandal of either nepotism or corruption
    • None of these ministers have signed performance contracts with the president as it was highly publicized in the beginning of his term.
    • The in-house power contestations seem to open the door for mediocrity and lux behaviour by some of these ministers.
    • The power dynamics and loyalty cards seem to be playing a huge role in making things difficult for the president to act when he should.

    The full impact of the past few years and the destruction of our country’s economy by COVID -19will be felt for many years. The job loses which run into millions of people, the closure of so many companies, the redirection of many companies from the normal to the online way of doing business has dealt a serious blow to our country that will be clear in a few years. The queues at the labour offices are testimonies to that and sadly the executive are down playing these realities. Unfortunately, this cabinet is not in control of things because if they were, billions of rands will not have gone missing during this looting period with the PPE scandals. What does this country need at the moment? This country needs a resuscitation leaders both at the top and at departmental level.

    What do I mean by a resuscitation leader? A Resuscitation Leader is one who has the capacity to move an organization from the state of unconsciousness to the state of consciousness." This is a question that we as a country should ask ourselves during this desperate times. This is not a time of thinking about individuals and their role in the presidential campaign. This is the time to roll out our sleeves and get to work. It is imperative for the president to prioritize the country over everything else. It is the time for resuscitation leadership to take centre stage. What then is resuscitation leadership? “Resuscitation leadership is the cyclical source of transition between the various stages of the development of an organization led by a quality, influential, and transformational individual" This calls for the president to implement the four R’s of resuscitation as follows:

    1. Review: This executive cannot begin to move forward without having done a complete review of the country’s situation. The country has been on a slippery slope for a few years now and a complete review of what caused it needed to be done so that plans could be drawn from the beginning to address the scourge of economic decline. It is clear that our country’s ministers have been doing as they pleased for a number of years now without any consequences. This has for many years cost the country and eroded the confidence of the citizens towards this government. The signing of performance contracts should have been of greater priority. It should be of utmost importance for the president to allocate the right people in the right positions looking at the track record, qualification and the quality (ethical and moral standing) of the individual. Another question that needed to be interrogated during the review period would be to look at the possible revenue generating streams of our country and how they can be boosted to flourish with more support. The revenue guzzlers (Which minister Tito Mboweni call the hippopotamus) of our economy needs to be reviewed and decision be taken on how they can be shut while finding the right leaders to lead them to profitable levels.
    2. Relate: Many questions should be raised here with regards to the relationship between the decline of revenue in a certain department and the leader who is heading it. It is clear that there is a relationship between the individual leader and the performance of the unit or SOE they lead. There is also a relationship between the decisions made at a certain level the outcomes of such decisions. The reason why the SAA has been on a decline year after year, can be traced back to the decisions taken at board and executive level. Which sure raises questions about the leaders at the helm of the entity. These are the issues which should empower the president to find reasonable grounds to remove through such individuals through the relevant leaders entrusted with the responsibility to take leadership and accountability of these units. It is only when the relationship between individual leaders and the performance of their divisions is questioned, and analysed that remedies can be found speedily to save the departments from a steep decline.
    3. Respond: The two steps above would be useless if there is no plan to respond. There is a big discussion to be had when it has been discovered that a minister has awarded a tender to his friend or wife’s friend or anybody who is of close proximity to him/her. The minister does not work with allocation of tenders, but the minister is responsible to ensure that none of his/ her acquaintances do not get closer to the activities of his department. This raises the big structural and ethical question. A structural question in the sense that the minister has the responsibility of establishing structures that will help him to play a meaningful oversight role throughout the department to ensure that spending for the right projects with the relevant and credible entities is done above board. Ethical in the sense that the entities which are contracted are above board and that due diligence has been done to authenticate that the recipient of the tender do not bring to question to the quality, ethical and moral standing of the department and the leader who heads that while the beneficiary of the service are receiving the due service. The discoveries of these gaps should necessitate the structural revamp to monitor and eliminate such opportunities for corruption. This kind of response ensures that he gaps are closed immediately when they are detected.
    4. Recognize: One of the challenges of this government has been the denial of the internal party conflict resulting from various camps or cliques. This has been the menace in the performance of the government at all sectors. Though there would be some progress in other sectors in terms of policy decisions of the organization, these decisions saw little implementation because of these conflicting camps which derail the operations of government. The government has been doing everything it can to downplay the impact of these groupings to the general performance of government. The government has been led by individuals who are older and whose agility is slowing down government due to their generational irrelevance.

    Many of the individuals in government have gone way past their sell-by date. It was challenging during the lockdown to realize that more than half of the executive were classified as the vulnerable group and some of them have been far away from the spotlight due to this vulnerability. Another troubling thing is the denial that some of the skills that are necessary for the functionality and rescue of this government is available outside of the party. This shows how narrow minded some leadership within the party have been to force the incompetent individuals to take a lead in the executive at the expense of the country. What benefit does it do to the country to have leaders at the helm of strategic departments because they are located within the party without the requisite skills? The threat of the tripartite alliance where labour movements have found prominent recognition by being in alliance with the state is also a huge factor to be recognized.

    The state is completely held by the throat in this relationship. The lingering question about the power of the unions remains unanswered because state is too loyal to the unions whose role is basically fading day by day. As for the power that they are assumed to be wielding, is still a debatable issue which the government should shake itself from it. The president should recognize these kinds of impediments so that they do not hinder the progress and functioning of the government. A timely recognition of these deadly factors allows the leadership to deal with them accurately for the benefit of the country.

    1. Reform: A country like ours which every day is losing shape, threatens the future of the children for generations to come. When the current state of the government is no longer keeping its shape, due to the factors mentioned above, it needs to be reformed. Policies of these country have been lauded by many in and out of the country. There is consensus across all sectors of the population than there is a general lack of political will to implement some of the great plans that have been suggested over time. Having recognized a number if things that threaten the functioning and progress of the state, leaders need to be intentional in reforming the functioning of the state. To reform the state, the most crucial place to start is with the individual capacity of people who are meant to be at the centre of driving these government programmes.

    It should not be negotiable for a minister to keep moving from one department to the other without showing success in their previous portfolios. In South Africa, there is this disturbing attitude where political leaders refuse to take accountability for their immoral conduct. To reform appropriately, the president should take full responsibility for the implementation of the accountability clause where members of the executive tender their resignation voluntarily as soon as scandals of irregularities and non-performance come to surface. Some policy perspectives and loyalty pacts need to be reformed for the success of the government.

    Former president irked the public on many occasions when he unashamedly told voters that the ANC comes first before the government. I would agree with him in his case that before he became the president of the country, he had to be the a member of the ANC. But I disagree vehemently with this notion because the lifespan of the government is longer lasting than that of the party. The ANC can die like many other parties whose support dwindled over time and now they are counted amongst those which are dying. This is another mentality that needs to be reformed. At this time of the post COVID-19 economists have spoken highly of the need to reform the country’s economic framework. The truth is that this is a mammoth task that requires the president to take a decision on who gets to be in the fore front of this drive. This cannot be achieved when we are still looking within the party to solve the national challenge that cuts across the political divide.

    The task to resuscitate the country, requires a resuscitation leader who is not afraid to have difficult discussions with those who are tasked with the mandate to grow this country’s fortunes. It does not require a leader who take long to decide on issues that require speedy resolutions. It does not require people who still feel comfortable to speak about the elephant in the room instead of confronting how the elephant found its way into the room and grow to this size in their presence. I must acknowledge that the movement in the arrests of corrupt officials that we saw in the past few days is a step in the right direction, but I am concerned that people are accused of having stolen millions and we are only seeing vehicles being impounded and no property attached. Does this mean that the culprits have only vehicles that can help bring back the embezzled funds, or it is just a cautious grandstanding that will only result in the returning of those vehicles when no evidence will be produced in court.

    Is President Cyril Ramaphosa capable of turning the economic fortunes of this country? Judging from how he has fared in the past two years, he does not inspire much confidence. Unless drastic decisions are taken to place the right people in the right positions, this country will be in a worse state in the next few years than we are today and he will be retired. To really resuscitate the country, the president should first look at his cabinet and be satisfied that the team he has assembled is fit for the purpose of resuscitating this country.  It does not have to be one that will continue to subject the youth of this country to the shameful R350 grant which late will be used for electioneering purposes.  

     


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