LEBUSA MONYOOE | Poverty remains incessant challenge for ruling party

ANC leadership lead by president Cyril Ramaphosa cut a cake at the 111th ANC birth day celebrations held at Dr Molemela stadium, Free State.
ANC leadership lead by president Cyril Ramaphosa cut a cake at the 111th ANC birth day celebrations held at Dr Molemela stadium, Free State.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s January 8 statement was met with mixed emotions. For the party supporters it was another buoyant moment to conclude a daunting conference.

The choice of the national conference theme was equally provocative – “The year of decisive action to advance the people’s interests and renew our movement.” A bold undertaking for an organisation found wanting in various aspects of governance.

A closer look at the statement indicates that it was not different from previously presented conference resolutions, albeit the wording and phrasing. It enumerated the common causes and areas that bedeviled governance – incessant energy and loadshedding crisis, crime and violence, unemployment, poverty, poor service delivery and so on.

The identification was spot on and could have been emboldened by robust diagnostic processes to itemise and isolate contributors to this appalling state of the nation. The president missed an opportune moment to appraise the nation on the prognosis to change the current situation and circumstances. Paucity of details on the change modalities and concomitant timelines to experience envisaged changes undermines the very essence of the address. Previous January statements have suffered the same fate – absence of timeframes and erudite articulation of change phases and benevolence (socioeconomic accruals of change) in real time.

The notion of party renewal has been a seminal theme for years without much success, factional politics and declining membership continues unabated. How shall the 2023 approaches be different from the previously tried and tested methodologies? What are the interim performance indicators to guide the organisation during this intense structural and ideological renewal? Clarity of renewal methodologies and concomitant dividends gives citizenry confidence to embrace the renewal processes.

The notion that party renewal may lead to improved delivery of services is a moot point given that public servants are affiliated to diverse political parties and operate with specific occupational contracts and code of work ethics. The binary between party and state needs more elucidation to address blurring of obligations and responsibilities. Ideally, delivery of good services should never be dependent on the health of a political party if those entrusted to deliver services are committed professionals. Of course, the ruling party deploys its cadres. It is important that those deployed befit the nature of the responsibility and possess the requisite skills set to serve the nation.

Ramaphosa intimated at repositioning municipalities for efficiency. Successful reorientation of efficacy and effectiveness of municipalities lies at the heart of local governance renewal and re-articulation to appreciate politics of coalitions and requisite modalities for sustainability. Currently, party idiosyncratic whims make municipality governance unstable given endless votes of no confidence.

In politics "timing is everything" and mastering the art of articulating governance interventions is the real "game changer". The ANC statement fails to exploit this opportune moment to demonstrate a shift from previous statements that failed to provide robust diagnosis and prognosis. Poverty and unemployment remain incessant challenges for the ruling party. The scarcity of resources and requisite skills set requires a different approach to address poverty eradication and creation of jobs beyond mere policy directives. 

Ramaphosa acknowledged that education and infrastructure are key drivers for socioeconomic development. He, however, failed to articulate new plans to optimise the educational and infrastructural contributions. Existence of diverse educational training institutions such as universities and technical colleges does not automatically translate into requisite skills set for socioeconomic growth and development, unless the creation of such institutions is aligned to national imperatives and duly supported. Regrettably, current technical colleges have a reputational crisis and are poorly resourced to churn out the requisite skills required for the knowledge economy.  

We have failed to manage and maintain infrastructure, thus creating more pressure for the Treasury department to leverage funding to service government systems. Degradation of the railways network and poorly maintained roads leave a huge dent in the fiscus.

Political statements remain mere politicking narratives until they are crowned by practical and effective implementation plans and timelines. Ramaphosa’s January 8 address fell short of requisite details to give meaning and life to action resolutions.

Lebusa Monyooe is a Sowetan Reader

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