Post-colonial Teething Problems

I’m generally individualistic, however I’m not oblivious to our political engagements or predicaments.

Being non affiliated to a party, I’m happy that I can become one of the so called ‘analysts’ that I also tend to despise.

I’m not convinced that our voting system for a party as opposed to a constituency is most preferable. Our system as it stands gives a lot more power to parties in their centralised way and diminishes the potential impact individuals may carry. It has its merits. However, looking forward, I personally would prefer a system that is more direct and looks at individuals who represent a party but are held to account based on their individual performance within the realms that they have undertaken to indulge.

In light of this, the incumbent ruling party has and still is transitioning from a liberation party to one that governs.  Such a transition is not an obvious one and as much as there are teething issues, there is much to applaud. Nonetheless, as the transition continues, the demands escalate and I feel this is where most African liberation movements fall short. The incumbent leadership has appeared to be rather static to certain evolving challenges it has to deal with and tends to fall back onto the historical aspects that people are already well aware of. The population in most developing countries, like ours, is comprised of youth who have their own challenges that are relevant to them at that particular time and being the impatient beings that we are, the challenges need to top the list of meaningful interventions that need to be made as the country and state gain maturity.

Politics is just that. Spend some time lending your ear to the protagonists and there will never be satisfaction, especially when dealing with the inherent double-speak. The recent developments within the political sphere are neither new nor exclusive to our country. My concern, which may be shared by others is the level of indecision or level of decision making that disempowers the ordinary citizen but has a material impact. We all know that politicians, as much as they play a significant role in the societal fabric, are not renown for principles such as honesty and integrity. We are bound by that reality, however we need to be reassured that beyond the rhetoric, the fundamentals are in good stead.

The past weeks developments have questioned the very fundamentals that we hold in our back pockets as the reassuring elements post the rhetoric. OK, maybe it’s just another deployee, however a functional state requires disciplined financial caretakers, if I can call them that. Post-colonial African states, almost as predicted by Frantz Fanon, lose their bearings, mostly because of the lack of strong institutions. The most vital ones being those responsible for the public and national purse. Hence the discomfort at last week’s actions and the overwhelming societal response to the developments.

Forget the politicking, citizens foremost and foreign investors to a lesser extent need to be reassured that beyond the politics, we have a solid and non-negotiable foundation required to take this nation forward towards prosperity, beyond mere policy formulation. Any doubt induced in that, as we saw, leads to widespread panic, financial consequences and the need to publicly engage our politicians.

Going forward, the lesson to be learnt, or that ought to have been learnt, is that irrespective of who’s calling the policy framework shots, certain fundamentals are non-negotiable, although they can be reviewed, however at the stage of our development and trajectory, let’s work on defining the policy frameworks that we feel can take us forward, but not tinker with the stability we need.

We are more than capable and the world has hope in us, we need to reassure ourselves that we have the same certainty in ourselves and keep moving forward, having learnt from our teething errors.

Sammy Mgijima

Economist & Political Analyst

He lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa