Step One:
35 leaders representing different sectors of society come together to discuss the current political, social and economic realities facing South Africa.

Step Two:
Scenario stories on possible futures for South Africa are developed and the messages of the Dinokeng Scenarios are shared with various stakeholders.

Step Three:
A media and engagement campaign is launched to extend the reach of the Dinokeng Scenarios to organisations, groups and communities across the country.

In July 2008, the composition of the Scenario Team was finalised and the Dinokeng process began in earnest. Two distinct though over-lapping phases were planned. The first focussed on constructing and capturing the scenarios, the second on implementing the most effective means of sharing this work with others.


The first phase of the Dinokeng exercise involved an intensive process spanning ten months, from August 2008 to April 2009. It included interviews with all Scenario Team members, three three-day workshops in 2008 and a fourth workshop in February 2009.

The objective of the interviews was to allow Scenario Team members to highlight what they saw as the key accomplishments and pressing challenges of our time. Several themes emerged and these laid the basis for the diagnosis that followed. These themes included:

  • Our nation’s psyche;
  • The character of our democracy;
  • Our current political moment;
  • Our government’s capacity to deliver in core public areas such as education and healthcare; and
  • Our model of development and growth.

At the first workshop the Scenario Team reviewed the focal questions raised in the interviews and through structured conversations, developed their understanding of the key challenges facing the country.

As part of the learning process, team members also visited six local sites – a prison, two orphanages, a farmers’ fair, a local government official and a woman who trains people in organic farming. Meeting the people who volunteer in these projects – Mark Harding, the retiree who volunteers at the orphanage or Ma Tshepo who runs the organic farming project – gave Team members a sense of hope in South Africa’s reservoir of social capital.

The second workshop was largely taken up with the input of experts on various issues ranging from the state of education and health in South Africa, to poverty and unemployment, race and identity, and the role of leadership in all sectors including the trade unions, business, political parties and government.

By the end of the second workshop the Scenario Team had identified some of the key challenges facing the country and organised these around four drivers that were seen to underpin our present and future: leadership and governance, economic development, education, and race and identity. Within this framework, specific focus was placed on values and accountability, unemployment, poverty and inequality, educational performance and the skills deficit, and nation-building. The team also pinpointed other critical challenges including the state of public health, the threat of crime, and the situation of the youth.

Through the course of the process, the Team refined their analysis of the primary underlying trends and the most urgent and critical challenges facing the country. This analysis is reflected in the diagnosis and Dinokeng message.

In the third and fourth workshops the Team built on their diagnosis of the present to construct the scenarios and develop the Dinokeng Message.


Phase two of the Dinokeng process entails the dissemination of the Dinokeng message to audiences across South Africa. This will involve the development of materials to facilitate communication through the media, and to support a series of meetings, presentations and workshops.

In effect, this phase of the process was set in motion after the first workshop when Scenario Team members began sharing the purpose of Dinokeng within their own networks, and has continued through regular briefings of influential stakeholders.


In undertaking this exercise, the Scenario Team has been guided by two pillars. The first pillar rests on the fundamental values outlined in the Constitution. The second pillar is the heritage of our past.

Any diagnosis of the present is, by its very nature, a highly contested exercise. This was particularly the case in a group as diverse as the Dinokeng Scenario Team. What is presented, therefore, is not a consensus position. Rather, it captures the collective wisdom of the group, grounded in a common commitment to the values of the Constitution and an acknowledge - ment of the heritage of our past. Invariably, the perceptions are largely subjective but, we have drawn on external expertise and substantiated our reasoning with factual research wherever possible.

South Africa’s Constitution was the result of a difficult but inclusive negotiation process. It was drafted with an acute awareness of the injustices of the country's non-democratic past in order never to repeat the mistakes of the past. It is widely regarded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, with a Bill of Rights second to none. According to former President Mandela:

“The Constitution of South Africa speaks of both the past and the future. On the one hand, it is a solemn pact in which we, as South Africans, declare to one another that we shall never permit a repetition of our racist, brutal and repressive past. But it is more than that. It is also a charter for the transformation of our country into one which is truly shared by all its people – a country which in the fullest sense belongs to all of us, black and white, women and men.”1

Central to the Dinokeng discussions are the following core values drawn from the Constitution:

  • Human rights and basic freedoms.
  • Socio-economic rights – including a pledge to improve the quality of life of all citizens through access to housing, healthcare, food, water, social security and education.
  • Non-racialism and non-sexism.
  • Supremacy of the rule of law and the Constitution.
  • The pledge to promote an efficient public administration in the Bill of Rights under ‘just administrative action’.
  • The provision, in chapter 10, that public administration must be accountable and transparent.
  • The clause, in chapter 10, which states that no official should be favoured or prejudiced on the basis of their party affiliation.

In terms of the heritage of our past, if we simply focus on our aspirations without acknowledging the depth of our political, economic and social legacy, we are likely to be disillusioned. However, if we use our heritage as an excuse for mediocrity, we will slide into complacency.


In the course of the Scenario Team’s discussions, a shared understanding emerged within the group. This understanding can be described as follows:

South Africans have achieved a great deal since 1994, despite our history and the deep challenges we inherited. Our accomplishments are all the more remarkable in that we defied international and even local scepticism about our ability to sort out our differences.

However, South Africa now stands at a crossroads. We have got some key things wrong over the past 15 years and we face critical social and economic challenges that are exacerbated by the increasingly constrained global environment.

All of us, and not simply government, have contributed to creating our problems. If we continue doing what we are doing, we run the risk of unravelling the gains we have made since 1994.

A core aspect of our current reality is that we have a weak state with a declining capacity to address our critical challenges. Any suggestion that the solution to our problems lies in the state, with its already proven lack of capacity, assuming an even greater interventionist role in the development of the economy and society, is misplaced and a recipe for disaster. At the same time it is worrying that civil society has, since 1994, tended to adopt a very statist view of the country, with the expectation that government should do everything. We believe that this too is a recipe for disaster.

Central to a future recovery strategy are two key elements.

One relates to matters of mindset, including leadership with clarity of purpose, as well as diminishing the sense of dependence among the citizenry. The other relates to tackling the key challenges outlined in our diagnosis, including education, crime, economic development and healthcare provision.

Ultimately it is the state that is responsible for delivering quality public services to the population. It is also the state that is responsible for defining the rules of the game, for ensuring that things happen. Parliament and the cabinet consist of people who have been elected to govern. They must be competent at doing that. However if we as citizens do not hold our leadership in government and Parliament to account then we cannot complain when delivery is poor. “We get the leaders we deserve.”

All of us must contribute to creating solutions. Citizens and leaders from all sectors must assume responsibility for co-creating solutions to address our challenges. Only in this way can we hope to navigate our way towards a future that lives up to the promise of 1994.

The Dinokeng message arises out of this shared understanding.



Perspectives from members of the Dinokeng Scenario Team.

Futures are never given. They are created.

We are at a crossroads, but what is wrong in South Africa can be fixed. South Africa is a country of great possibility. We have a reasonably strong asset base. But we also have a deficit – we are badly served by our leadership. There are dangerous seeds in our present which have the potential to lead us to disaster, possibly even authoritarian rule. This is a moment of choice that requires strong decisive leadership.

There are many inspiring leaders, like the Ma Tshepos of the world. They are leaders without needing to hold status, without needing to be deployed. This leadership comes often not from “connected BEE people”, but from people with limited budgets and resources who nonetheless make things happen. Their social entrepreneurship is inspiring. By contrast, there is “indifferent obfuscating officialdom”, like the [official] who was late to meet us, self-important and very busy. The heraldry of power makes these officials uninterested in the citizens they are meant to be serving.

We are facing enormous challenges such as poverty, underdevelopment, health and education. And like a computer, we are hanging.

A big plus for South Africa is that we have a constitutional democracy. We must ensure that we make the Constitution breathe life and make it a living reality. We have values enshrined in the Constitution, which we must defend.

We seriously underestimated the impact of the legacy of apartheid. We thought that we had it all – a fantastic Constitution, Madiba, a rainbow nation. We just did not reckon with how deep the impacts were of the system that had been designed to fail the majority.

The current moment is a moment of extreme danger. It is also a moment of opportunity. We have an opportunity to stop the rot. This is a moment in time, a fork in the road, a chance to choose our destiny, an opportunity for South Africa to do the right thing.

South Africa is not an island. We are not playing only a local chess game, but a global one. The local/global interaction is deeply iterative.

We need to look at the capacity of the state to deliver before we argue for more state intervention.

If I could ask an oracle a question about the future I would want to know whether we had been granted the grace of truly transformative leaders who can help inspire and mobilise civil society, the private and public sectors to realise the dreams embedded in the preamble of the Constitution of South Africa. I would ask the oracle how we as a civil society and as citizens can best learn to be better stewards of democracy. Because we get the leaders we deserve. I would ask the oracle how we can re-inculcate the values that drove so many of us to sacrifice so much for this democracy to be born. A dream that has been replaced by rampant materialism, greed, corruption and total disrespect for basic human values…. We need to get back what we have lost.

Issues of morality are important; how people vote and select the quality of their leaders is important. Can our leadership save us, or can the masses save South Africa through the way that they elect their leaders?