Oct 05, 2012
A developmental State is a capable StateBack
Canterbury|Africa|Education|PROJECT|Road|Systems|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
Recent Research Reports
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.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
The broad-based black economic-empowerment (BBBEE) alignment process in the con-struction sector has begun, dur-ing which the sector codes of the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) will be aligned with the revised Codes of Good Practice (CoGP), which come...
It is second time lucky for Toby Venter. Ten years ago he negotiated to buy the Kyalami racetrack, but “the deal did not materialise”.
Environmental solutions company I-Cat started construction work on its R22-million, 1 949 m2 environmentally sustainable office and warehouse facility, commissioned by I-CAT Environmental Solutions, at a launch event in October. The new sustainable I-CAT campus,...
Effective file synchronisation and sharing across an organisation’s structures can provide the basis for robust mobile-device and document management while maintaining proper backup, version control and content distribution. These are the lessons learned by complex...
Hotel group Carlson Rezidor currently holds the largest hotel pipeline in Africa with 30 hotels and 6 300 rooms under development. The hotel group develops and operates Radisson Blu in the upper upscale segment and Park Inn by Radisson in the mid-market segment. With...