'Community role the missing link in rebuilding of the socio-economic fabric of our society'
Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has called on government and the private sector to put in more effort to develop and uplift communities economically and socially.
Nene, who is the chairperson of the Thebe Investment Corporation, was speaking on Tuesday at the Thebe Foundation’s virtual open dialogue under the theme “Rebuilding the Socio-Economic Fabric of our Society”.
The dialogue was attended by people from the corporate sector, government and civil society.
Nene said it is vital for the state, private sector and civil society to work together in ensuring that the country enhances its economic growth.
“The only way to achieve the rebuilding of the socio-economic fabric of our society is to get all three pillars of our society firmly in place. The three pillars are the state, private sector and the community. We have ignored one pillar of our society for far too long and that pillar is the community. We got a rude reminder of how important communities are in July when parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal where hit by weeklong looting and destruction of economic structure,” said Nene.
“It took communities in some parts of the country to prevent the looting and destruction of economic infrastructure as the security forces took longer to mobilise, community members who didn’t own shares in shopping centres or businesses in those areas, rose up and said ‘NotInOurName’. And it didn’t end there, communities also joined hands to clean up the mess that characterised the aftermath of the devastation.
“This was a reminder that for far too long we have focused most of our attention on the state and private sector. It is now time to rebalance our efforts and conversations to pay attention to communities too,” said Nene.
Nene urged the state and private sector to empower disadvantaged communities with skills to meet the trend of technological advancements.
“The government should rethink its budget allocation and ensure that certain resources are made available to communities to build or rebuild their own social infrastructures. This should be done without any ties to policies or government programmes. As the recent wave of violence reminded us, for communities to stand up for themselves, they need social infrastructure,” said Nene.
“If we are to strengthen the socio-economic fabric of our society, both the state and private sector have to think more deeply about social and community investment. There needs to be a greater focus on community development. Community development matters a great deal because without it social and economic infrastructure build, either by government or private sector, runs the risk of being vandalised,” said Nene.
Former head of Stats SA Dr Pali Lehohla said the country needs a “pro-poor government” to deal with the scourges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“Our country has a weak leadership and state. There is no leadership to deal with our modern challenges. SA is facing a chronic crisis. We should produce an ethical leadership that would ensure that SA meets its constitutional obligations and provides a better life for all that consists of political mobilisation, economic feasibility and social cohesiveness,” said Lehohla.
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