Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: GCIS
Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: GCIS

This weekend the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation (KMF) will host leaders from all sections of society to deliberate the issues affecting SA in an attempt to identify remedial interventions.

Launched in June 2018, this event has come to be known as the KMF’s Drakensberg Inclusive Growth Forum. Participants were driven by the urgency of the situation and the desire to chart a path of renewed hope for SA.

It was not surprising that the issues identified as malignant to our society included the state of the economy; high unemployment, affecting mainly the youth; the need to strengthen the state and improve efficiency; and lack of proper strategic planning in delivering services, particularly at local government level.

It is in the local government sphere that the basic needs of our people such as shelter, security, water, sanitation and electricity must be satisfied. Poor service delivery gives rise to the restlessness that characterises most of our communities today. This restlessness is an expression of the frustrations experienced by communities about the quality of service they receive from municipalities.

I truly believe these frustrations are justified. The delivery failures can reasonably be put down to systemic deficiencies in the service ethic of municipalities as well as performance incompetence. So the problem is to a large extent behavioural and institutional.

This weekend there will again be a coming together of various stakeholders such as subject-matter experts; public officials, including ministers, premiers and executive mayors; former ministers; politicians; government officials; executives of state-owned companies; international opinion makers; and representatives of civil society, trade unions, youth, women and the private sector.

Giving up on the hope and promises birthed with our democratic constitution is not an option

These thought leaders will spend three days mapping out specific action plans to improve service delivery in the quest for a just, equitable and inclusive SA. The theme for this year’s conference will be "Creative Solutions: Strengthening Local Government and Local Economies".

While the inclusive growth conference cannot provide a panacea for the ills of the country, influencing a positive mindset change at local government level will hopefully engender a spirit of service excellence and an appreciation of the need to improve the dire living conditions that many South Africans experience. Providing basic services for all is the first important step in rekindling the hope and expectations that the democratic state inspired in our marginalised citizens in 1994.

As the state of our nation is laid bare at commissions of inquiry, with large-scale corruption and malfeasance forming a prominent part of the script, we dare not be swept along in a current of despair.

Giving up on the hope and promises birthed with the advent of our democratic constitution is not an option. As a nation, we must be alive to the mammoth task and unenviable challenges of trying to fulfil these promises, but must remain undaunted.

We hope to achieve a level of consensus in the analysis of our situation through a shared set of beliefs and ideas, as we embark on the collective journey to rid our society of its abysmal conditions of structural inequality, poverty and unemployment.

These three ills are the source of helplessness and despair among our people.

So this retreat is a festival of strategic ideas that could contribute towards the efforts of the government and all other sectors to deal with them effectively.

To provide an international context, the keynote address will be delivered by Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian academic who is an authority on local economic development. His speech is titled "Reinventing the future, property rights and local economies".

I’m confident that our indaba will generate practical ideas and suggestions.

Motlanthe is a former SA president and is patron of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation