If his first missive of the year is anything to go by, President Cyril Ramaphosa awoke from a weekend reverie to find himself in 2012. It was there that he happened upon the ruling party’s National Development Plan — in particular, chapter 13: "Building a Capable State".Its key takeout was a need for a number of specific things: a transformative, developmental state, a public service "insulated from undue political interference", officials with the experience and support to do their jobs, and clear governance structures for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to allow for accountability.And so, eight years on, Ramaphosa — who was deputy chair of the commission that produced the original document — blithely informs us that the "capable state" is "perhaps the most pressing" of SA’s challenges, before laying out the very issues identified in 2012 (and waving a hand vaguely at "district-based delivery" as a catch-all solution)."This is a task that does not capture the imagination of most peo...

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