There has been a lot of focus of late on recapacitating the state. It’s a simple model — if public sector employees are the coal on which the machine is running, better to have the highest quality possible (unlike the stuff going into Eskom power plants). There is certainly a need to refocus talent, hire and retain it, while  improving training for incumbents. Yet the “state lacks capacity” response to diagnosing SA’s problems it far more complex.

First, there is the risk aversion built up by many decent public servants during the Zuma years, where the informal mycelium network of making things work below the surface in the government — the subtle linkages and relationships between spheres of government — were destroyed as the drawbridge was pulled up. This is the grit that gums up the machine from operating properly...

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