There is something missing from our society. That is a buzz about what the future can be. Yes, it can be very different from what the doomsayers expect but it will require inspirational leadership with a big, bold and brave vision to put this province on a new path.
Can it be done? Can we overcome the obstacles that stand between us and the shared future we all yearn for?
Can we be a place where employment is rising and poverty declining .Can our hospitals be places of healing and caring again? Can our roads be better maintained? Can our schools be places where real learning takes place? Can our neighbourhoods be places where criminal walk in fear and communities live in safety?
I say Yes, Yes it can be so but it requires the right leadership with the right values if we are to defeat the demon of poverty and unemployment that shackles so many to a life of despair.
Firstly we need a new civic re-awakening where we once again discover the spirit of self sacrifice. This requires an attitude change. Greed and arrogance, self interest and slacktavism have an iron grip on many people.
Performance does not seem to count in the closed, crony society culture that has wormed its way into many of our institutions. Rather connectivity to a faction counts more than qualifications .Failed civil servants and politician instead of facing rejection face recycling or redeployment.
Self interest is a cancer that eats up resources that should be used for the upliftment of the poor. It manifests itself particularly in the tender process where thousands of our provincial public servants do business with the province that employs them. In the Western Cape where the Democratic Alliance is in government this practice has been outlawed through legislation.
The difference in clean government and service delivery is clear for all to see.
Secondly we need innovation in government policy .The ANC remains trapped in an ideological straight jacket that paralyses new ideas necessary to take the province forward.
In sharp contrast, in the Western Cape, DA government is practicing innovation and utilising provincial powers to the fullest.
Steps are being taken to flood major centres in the province with broad band internet. This means no matter where you are you will be able to connect to free wireless internet. Imagine the economic potential that can be unlocked. The World Bank has calculated that for every 10 % growth in broadband internet the economy grows by 1, 38%.
Ninety eight mass opportunity development centres- to provide access to top class sporting facilities for underprivileged communities have been established.
A community Safety Bill has recently been introduced to improve oversight over the SAPS so they can be held more accountable. Legislation has been passed which holds principals and district managers accountable for results and the inspectors have been brought back into the classroom. This is part of the reason why the Western Cape has the best grade 12 results in the country. It also explains why the 20% of the poorest schools- township schools- improved from 57% to 70% pass rate.
A decent education provides the foundation necessary for getting a good job and a good job provides you with a passport out of poverty. The contrast with the Eastern Cape is so telling where a dysfunctional education system continues to wage its destructive influence on the future of our learners.
Oh yes our society can be different- very different, the contrast with the Western Cape illustrates that this not simply political rhetoric and theory.
The third factor we need is entrepreneurship. This is a shift away from being a work seeker to a job creator. Society has moved on from where big industries created all the jobs .Entrepreneurship needs to be taught right throughout school careers. It needs to be embraced and nurtured and the right regulatory framework created so small businesses can get ahead free of red tape that inhibits their growth.
Of course coupled to all of this is accountability and discipline. Without these two factors no society can progress. The barring of the auditor general ‘s staff from entering certain dept of Education offices earlier this year illustrates the depth of ill discipline that has gripped some of our government departments. When the consequences of poor performance and unruly behaviour go unpunished the rot simply deepens.
While many now applaud the ANC handling of Julius Malema they all miss the point. His legacy of factionalism and unruly behaviour lives on in the ANC. The rot set in long ago.
We need to find those great leaders again. Men and women of principle and integrity. They enriched our political discourse- not themselves. They put the needs of the people above their own and embodied the concept of the selfless struggle. Everything rises and falls on leadership and with them we can be a province of expanding opportunity for all.