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Many South Africans will have seen the ANC media conference at which Fikile Mbalula and Nomvula Mokonyane attempted to explain why millions of ANC supporters failed to turn up to cast their votes.

Addressing journalists, they put forward a host of reasons. But, as usual, ANC politicians fail to grasp that their deployed cadres are incompetent, unskilled and motivated by self-interest and patronage.

They also failed to acknowledge that a sea change is under way at local government level. Some citizen groups, frustrated at years of a lack of service delivery, have taken control of municipal functions and are delivering services. This growing trend is being driven by voters who are sick of corrupt, incompetent politicians.

At the most basic level, local government in SA must ensure a secure and stable environment in which economic development can take place. They need to plan and develop physical infrastructure — water supply, roads — as well as promote education, public health and environmental sustainability.

How can the government function effectively at national level if local government is incapable of developing the local physical infrastructure?

The ANC continues to claim it is “self-correcting”, but there is an urgent need for it to realign with the business community, which frankly also needed to have adopted a far more assertive stance in recent years.

Late in the day the government has started to address the necessary energy reform, albeit reluctantly on the part of the energy minister. But unless it introduces the following necessary reforms the country will continue to produce low GDP growth and fail to create an economic environment conducive for job creation:

  • Professionalise the public service and local government by stepping away from cadre deployment.
  • Implement effective consequence management in the sphere of public finance management, and inform the country how the ballooning public sector wage bill is to be addressed.
  • Take urgent steps to address labour market rigidity to create a climate for job creation.
  • Urgently review BEE policies, which have only benefited the connected elite, and instead promote widespread economic empowerment.
  • Urgently promote public-private partnerships to deal with the infrastructure backlog.
  • Urgently introduce state procurement reform.
  • Urgently deal with the expropriation without compensation debacle, or there will be no more foreign direct investment.

Unless the ANC government makes substantial progress addressing the above reforms, GDP growth will remain below 2%, there will be increasing social unrest, and the ANC will suffer greater losses at the polls in 2024.

Neil Garden 

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