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Madonsela: Has Ramaphosa provided policy resonance?

Feb 19 2018 17:43
Carin Smith

Cape Town - In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Cyril Ramaphosa provided policy certainty, but the question remains whether he has provided policy resonance, former public protector Thuli Madonsela said on Monday.

"SA is at a crossroad. Yes, some policies are providing hope, but the process of engagement with government will determine their success. Sometimes this might even involve trying to reconcile what appears to be irreconcilable. No one wants to go back to [the] 'winter of despair' we had last year," she said as a guest speaker at an investment roadshow hosted by Old Mutual in Cape Town.

She illustrated the difference between policy certainty and policy resonance by using education as an example.

"If our education system currently faces challenges regarding quality and the ability to meet the demands of the day, one needs to relook the system and not just have more of the same approaches," explained Madonsela.

"President Ramaphosa said a whole lot of discussions will take place on the topic of education - including science and technology. That is an opportunity for us to interface with government to ensure a match between what the industry and social needs are, and what they will be in 10 to 15 years' time."

Madonsela is currently the chair of Social Justice at Stellenbosch University. 

"Congratulations to all of us. We made it through the local and international turbulence of 2017. We went through a lot of social justice challenges," she said.

"The question is: where are we now and where are we likely to be tomorrow? Are we just spectators observing our environment, hoping it will do well and that we can then invest in those opportunities which will materialise on their own - or is there something we can do to invent the future of our dreams?"

In her view, what she calls "epic leadership" is what is needed to keep SA's dream alive. To her Oliver Tambo is an example of such an epic leader.

"Epic leadership is ethical, purpose driven, impact conscious and committed to service," she explained.

She used Eskom as an example of a state-owned entity (SOE) where goods and services where not always aimed at keeping it efficient, but often about "who needs to be favoured".

Loyalty

Madonsela said although loyalty to leadership is important, it must not be unquestioned.

"In SOEs we now see that some of the people who will be prosecuted are good people and just wanted to keep their jobs. Somebody at the top, however, wanted them to have unquestioned loyalty, so the service [at the SOE] fell apart," she said.

She added that there was a price to pay even for her, because she refused to offer unquestioned loyalty. She was even falsely accused of being a spy.

"We are not spectators. What you and I do today, tomorrow and the day after, has implications on whether or not we will reduce turbulence in our environment and whether SA will reach its dreams. Ethical leadership is part of this process," she said.

"You and I will have to ensure we continuously define success not as a zero-sum game where one will win and one will lose. Social justice is ubuntu and this should also be the approach of the business sector. Play your part in social justice. Instead of only investing in opportunities, you can see how you can invest to actually create opportunities."

'White monopoly capital'

In her view, the only reason why the "white monopoly capital campaign" got so much support, was because it spoke to people's real pain.

"It was a classic case of diverting people away from state capture by giving them a dead cat - but that cat is not dead. If we don't all join hands, then someday someone might pull that scapegoat out again to bring division," she said.
 
She said she is encouraged by what is currently being done by law-enforcement agencies investigating state capture and she expects some arrests and jail sentences as a result.

"The swamp will be drained in terms of state capture and this will give a serious blow to corruption. At the same time, I believe we must look back to find out why it took so long for the state-capture investigation to start. A lot of evidence might have gone lost by now," she said.

She would like to see the Hawks pounce on anyone who was out of line, regardless whether they supported Ramaphosa or Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

"My greatest fear is that some evidence on state capture would have been destroyed by now so that some guilty people might not get brought to task. The Gupta leaks were great, but the inquiry must now authenticate those emails. I am not sure whether some evidence has not been destroyed by now," said Madonsela.

"To create a functional state, you must focus on ethical government even before you deal with state capture. We need a lot of emphasis on building civil society so that we never find ourselves again on the brink of catastrophe like last year."

Asked whether she has any political aspirations, Madonsela said she sees her role rather in social justice, in building democracy.

"I believe I am better positioned in civil society to make a difference, especially in working with young people," she said.

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