Oct 05, 2012
A developmental State is a capable StateBack
Canterbury|Africa|Education|PROJECT|Road|Systems|Training|Africa|South Africa|Building|Service|Solutions|Systems|Power|Rowan Williams
© Reuse this
A plan, the document reads, is only as credible as its delivery mechanism is viable. There is a real risk, it continues, that South Africa’s developmental agenda could fail because the State is incapable of implementing it.
It could be argued that many of the solutions to this country’s most serious problems – from the less than acceptable, often dismal, performance of our public education and health institutions through to heavy-handed policing and ineffective, misdirected and abused public spending – lie in fundamentally upgrading the State’s human and technical capabilities.
Good legislation and policy, which South Africa has in abundance, becomes little more than “aspirational waffle” (to again steal a phrase from the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams) in the absence of a dedicated, motivated and professional public service.
Transitioning from where we are currently to a new public- service reality is, therefore, possibly the most important project of contemporary South Africa.
If we fail, there is a risk that this country could too. But if we make solid, incremental improvements, there will be proportional, possibly even disproportional, progress in dealing with this country’s most pressing challenges.
Sadly, the current focus of many of those in power does not seem to be on building what the National Development Plan describes as a “capable State”, which needs to be built “brick by brick, institution by institution”.
Instead, much attention is being given to extending the reach of an already weak and incapable State into new areas. By doing so, there is a risk that government could contaminate areas that are functioning (albeit not optimally from a social and develop-mental perspective) to the point where they too begin to deteriorate.
That said, the current myopic fixation that many in civil society express on the issue of cadre deployment is just as unhelpful.
True, the dishing out of political patronage is a serious problem and one that has undermined good governance and implementation in a number of critical areas, particularly at the level of municipal government, where the service delivery tyre is meant to hit the road.
However, in a country that has deep transformational imperatives, such a fixation can become distracting, divisive and even debilitating, as it leads to retreat into little boxes of prejudice, rather than out-of-the-box thinking.
To return the focus of the authorities from an agenda of potentially destructive overreaching to one centred on building capable institutional capacity requires a multidimensional approach.
Only then will fresh thinking emerge on training, recruitment and retention and on creating a civil service that truly has an ethos of service, held in check by systems that demand accountability and transparency.
Edited by: Terence Creamer© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Editorial Insight News
Article contains comments
Updated 8 minutes ago South Africa’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) has summoned 15 construction companies to appear before an independent investigating committee for a formal inquiry in April. Following its own investigation into collusive practices in the construction...
Updated 42 minutes ago Nigerian energy company Seplat expects its gas business to contribute around a third to its profits over the next two years, up from less than 10% today, as demand for electricity generation in Africa's biggest economy soars. CEO Austin Avuru told a Reuters Africa...
Updated 47 minutes ago The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday called for a fuel levy to pay for roads, instead of e-tolls, during a protest outside Gauteng Premier David Makhura's office. "We do want to pay for them [the roads] by a dedicated, ring-fenced national fuel levy," the...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
This Week's Magazine
Eqstra Holdings was going to reduce its exposure to contract mining, but it was not yet ready to sell the troubled business, said CEO Walter Hill on Tuesday. He said Eqstra would not sell its contract mining business in a “depressed market”. He said it would be...
Subscribe to Engineering News and Mining Weekly for two years, but only pay for the first year. The weekly editions of Engineering News and Mining Weekly will be posted to your preferred postal address and also gain access to:
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.