South African Social Development “Actions Speak Louder than Words”


Cameron2By Cam Jennings

The African National Congress may have retained the right to govern the people of the Republic of South Africa for another term and the new Cabinet to rule over the citizens. One questions if the Zuma government will have the vision and direction to address not only the National Development Plan, but also the systemic fraud and corruption that I wrote about in the previous column – Social Change is Possible. This move by Jacob Zuma to re-organize and re-focus his cabinet may be viewed either as a way to tackle the challenges ahead and take a proactive position, or it may be viewed as some housekeeping to clean up the mess of political graft and corruption that has to date been synonymous with South Africa by volume.

  Weak economic growth, unemployment and corruption I fear will not be tackled effectively in this second term of the current president. There will be some attempts by the current government in tackling these three challenges between now and the next election, and only time will tell how effective these attempts are in making a difference to the lives of ordinary impoverished South African citizens. There is safety in numbers and this is evident in the new bigger Zuma government, for there has been an increase in an already bloated cabinet, and the new one is set to cost South Africa over R143 million a year – excluding perks.

  Let’s get this all into in perspective. The President Jacob Zuma earns approximately $272,000.00USD per annum and when we compare this to the Kenya’s president at $472,000.00USD and Australia’s prime minister at $500,000.00 it appears to be acceptable. What bang for our buck do we get from the president in South Africa, would be a question worth asking and not how much does he earn. What effective action is being undertaken as part of the National Development Plan ( NDP)? Do we all know what is in the NDP and how it’s going to bring about social reforms.

  The plan known as the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan Republic of South Africa, in its introduction states “Combating corruption and enhancing transparency and accountability were identified as key challenges to strengthening a capable and democratic state during the feedback process.” It also states that it will focus upon measures to ensure the following “Increase public integrity by improving public services, creating safer communities, effectively managing public resources and increasing accountability”. This action plan will focus on measures to ” strengthen corruption combating instruments and capacity to increase integrity management systems; strengthen mechanisms for meaningful citizen engagement in service delivery improvement and policy development processes;hold public servants accountable to the public and the communities they serve through the development and implementation of an accountability management framework for public servants.”

  In theory this all sounds like marvellous plans to bring about change and social development through specific reforms. Section 2.5 states “Open government is central to achieving a better life for all South Africans, thus South Africa remains committed to using transparency, accountability and citizen engagement to towards increasing public faith in Government.” Politicians are good are selling their constituents dreams and visions of a better world and a future utopian tomorrow that  sparkles and is just around the corner. So far I believe that the wonderful Izimbizo (Nguni term for meeting and dialogue) is all that has happened. Meetings and dialogue do not make for action and results and if the reader disagrees with the writer, then please produce the evidence as the average citizen in South Africa is eager to learn of the actual and real social developments and not of the smoke and mirrors and hot air, for actions speak louder than words.





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