President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reshuffle his cabinet as some kind of panacea for our country’s problems are old, well-worn stock-in-trade tactics of opposition parties, media commentators and others who seek to damage or perhaps influence the president and his ANC-led government. However, they reveal a gross misunderstanding of the real crisis facing our country and the solutions that it requires.

Certainly, the incompetent and partly corrupt performance of most of the cabinet incumbents merits their immediate dismissal — indeed some of them years ago — but the reservoir of potential replacements from within the ranks of the ANC is empty, and unless Ramaphosa turns to talented, experienced and honourable citizens from other parties or preferably from outside our existing political establishments, a reshuffle will amount to nothing more than an enormous triviality.

More importantly, SA’s future does not depend on the composition of the cabinet but the policies and practices they implement, and these should be based on the voices and views of civil society, community, business and other leaders, not those of self-interested political parties and individuals.

A convention, convened by our leading civil society organisations and movements and moulded in the form of the Codesas of the 1990s, could be the forum for the mobilisation of these voices and views and could draft a “People's Manifesto” of recommended policies and practices that the government of the day would ignore at its peril.

There are many justified calls for deeper and more direct influence of civil society over government, but few that propose how this can be achieved. An SA convention for political, economic, social and constitutional advancement could just be the catalytic converter our country requires to clean up its mess. Our current government and parliament have proved themselves incapable of the task.

David Gant

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