South Africa faces critical social and economic challenges especially related to unemployment and poverty, safety and security, education, and health. These challenges are exacerbated by the global economic crisis. If we fail to recognise the severity of our challenges, and if we fail to address them, we will experience rapid disintegration and decline.

Our state is too weak to address the challenges by itself. State-led development will not succeed in a country where state capacity is lacking. In addition, pervasive state intervention – where the state is everything and all else is subordinate – breeds complacency and dependency among the citizenry and leads to the withdrawal of investment and disengage - ment by the business sector.

We can address our critical challenges only if citizens and leaders from all sectors actively engage with the state to improve delivery and enforce an accountable government.

Key ingredients for a sustainable future are:

  • An effective and accountable state.
  • Ethical, accountable and responsive leaders across all sectors.
  • An engaged citizenry that holds government and sectoral leaders accountable.
  • Interventions in the development of state capacity, education, safety and security, and health. These interventions are urgently required. They are a vital but by no means a sufficient condition for country success.
  • A strong, sustainable economy. This is critical to unlocking development.
  • Job creation through a vibrant private sector including small and big business.
  • An appreciation that our future is intricately linked to what happens on the continent and globally.

The seeds of the future are contained in the present. Thus our scenarios begin with a diagnosis of the present.



Perspectives from members of the Dinokeng Scenario Team.

The issue is how to transform a grossly incompetent state at national, local and provincial level. If we say we want “more state”, how do we transform it and convince ourselves that it can deliver with any degree of competence?

Citizens need to take ownership and ask of themselves: What are we doing as citizens to become agents of change? What are we doing to build the future that was envisioned at the dawn of our democracy?

We need to think of it like this: I spend R100. R30 of that is spent on my house, which is an investment that I jealously guard. I paint it, clean it and look after it. And then I spend R40 on direct and indirect taxes and I take no care over it. Why do we as citizens disengage from this investment? We know the problems. How do we hold the people who have to deliver accountable?

Corporates, government, unions and civil society need to see that the way to go is to act in enlightened self interest; this would be a good seed to plant.

South Africans have fallen into a mode of: “Your side of the boat is leaking.” What’s emerging in our discussions is a theme of collective ownership of the state; collective custodianship of the Constitution. We need to challenge ourselves. We should be society-centred; not so state-centred.