ANC will continue to allow incapable state to grow and looting to continue
The Covid-19 coronavirus has plunged the world into what seems like coordinated chaos. No country has escaped its nasty and destructive invasion.
Responses have included shutting economic activities and restricting citizens to unprecedented quarantine measures. What to do about containing its rapid spread is a global work in progress. No one has the best approach.
An unprecedented global effort to develop an urgently needed vaccine is yet to yield promising prospects.
What Covid-19 has exposed with shocking clarity is that the compelling challenge for state leaders is to project a clear understanding of the national threat, and what support must be organised in response.
That response must demonstrate a coherent and consistent policy articulation, and be underpinned by a coordinated execution by well-functioning and capable state machinery.
This is the only way to secure public confidence in times of national crisis.
For South Africa, the situation is particularly frightening.
Policy incoherence and uncertainty have been the hallmarks of the ANC government over the past 15 years due to the parochial and conflicting interests within the tripartite alliance structure that determines ANC policy.
As a result, we have seen the emergence of two bitterly opposed centres of power since the ascendancy of Cyril Ramaphosa to the presidency in early 2018.
The intensity of the conflict is exacerbated by the fact that his victory at the party’s conference in Nasrec in 2017 was won by a narrow margin, and a number of those who belonged to the opposition camp now sit in powerful positions at Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters.
Ramaphosa’s failure to move with requisite speed on many critical issues – such as Eskom and SAA – reflects the reality that the tripartite alliance controls the pedals.
The critical question of the moment is whether the president possesses the leadership gravitas to mobilise a united and supportive policy decision-making majority in the ANC to lead South Africa out of economic depression and socioeconomic destruction. It is a tough call.
Weaknesses laid bare
The pandemic has brutally exposed the weaknesses in our state delivery systems, including health and basic education, as well as land-use planning and zoning.
The low level of development and resilience in these areas – owing mainly to corruption, poor planning and execution, and sheer incompetence – is the main cause for our chaotic response to the pandemic.
High-density informal shack dwellings define the landscape. The heavy lifting required is way beyond the capability of the current public service structure.
But the factional fight is also about access to and control of the state budget for patronage and self-enrichment.
The explosion in corruption and looting at municipal level points to total collapse of this sphere of governance, where the ANC is in control.
Last week’s report from the Auditor-General provides depressing reading as it confirms the reality that local government is the point of departure for looting across all municipalities governed by the ANC.
The most well-functioning and managed municipalities are those in the Western Cape, which is run by the DA.
Local government represents the coalface of the capability of government to deliver essential services to people who desperately need them, but this is only possible if municipalities are capable organisations.
Instead, they have been used by the ANC in many cases as targets for rent-seeking and looting.
Metsimaholo Local Municipality in Sasolburg and OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape are typical examples of the grand-scale looting that has taken hold at local level. It is simply evil.
Purpose drives success
Organisations do not self-propel to sustainable success.
They do so because they are purpose-driven and have vision-aligned strategies that are developed and executed by skilled and competent teams that have developed the appropriate organisational structure and discipline required to focus on delivering planned objectives and intended outcomes.
The philosophy and policy paradigm that pervades the ANC leads one to the reasonable conclusion that pursuing the attainment of a capable state may not be in the interest of many of its members.
This is because a capable organisation is only possible if it is driven by the pursuit of excellence.
But this philosophy and discipline is the antithesis of the mind-set of the ANC, which routinely diverts funds from sorely needed projects to pay its patronage networks and select cadres.
As a result, projects become underresourced and are poorly executed because they are starved of proper resources and adequate funds.
We are therefore faced with the reality that the ANC will continue to allow an incapable state to grow and looting to continue because the greedy lines are long.
The only way to stem this deterioration is for the ANC to split along the current faction lines and re-emerge under a new set of values and leadership.
What the party sorely misses at this moment is a transformative leader with a high level of contextual intelligence and an acute sense of social justice.
North-West University professor and political analyst André Duvenhage makes the point about this year’s January 8 statement by Ramaphosa: “More rhetoric, a lack of strategic vision and political survival at all costs seems to be the name of the game.”
Even more distressing is the fact that Ramaphosa was recently quoted as stating that he was not aware that South Africa did not have a capable state.
Does this perhaps explain his irrational decision to make the unification of the ANC his primary mission?
Clearly his sense of national priorities is not in accord with those of the nation he is mandated to lead.
What then must be done?
Motsohi is an organisational strategist. His second book, The Unending Struggle for Relevance, will be available online from the middle of this month via woodrockbooks.com