Fifteen years into our democracy, we find ourselves having to confront some stark realities. We see the ugly face of rising political intolerance; a leadership that has failed to build adequate state capacity to protect its citizens from the ravages of crime; a leadership that has failed the accountability provision in the Constitution and that has turned a blind eye to corruption and incompetence in the public service; a leadership often driven by nepotism and greed. We have not yet demonstrated the will to build one nation across racial or class divides. Racial polarisation persists, as do urban and rural poverty and inequality. We have stood by as our educational system has faltered, failing the post-1994 generation; we have been shamed by the dismal performance of our children in international tests, coming “number last”. We have failed the generation of youth that makes up the bulk of our population; and stood by while parts of our health system falter under poor management and poor service delivery.

Underpinning all of these ailments are our legacies. Firstly, across all sectors, there is a lack of inclusive leadership and a common sense of nationhood, and the exile dominance of the ruling party has resulted in a failure to draw sufficiently on the skills and talents of all South Africans. Secondly, a culture of mediocrity has grown out of cronyism, corruption and nepotism in public sector appointments, creating a weak and unaccountable state. Thirdly, we have failed to confront the impact and implications of our inherited cultures of racism, sexism and liberation ideology. Finally, deep structural flaws going beyond 1994 persist in our society, economy and polity.

What is fundamentally causing our problems?

The analysis of the Dinokeng Scenario Team is that we are seeing the symptoms of three inter-related underlying trends: citizens have, since 1994, largely disengaged (or been co-opted into government or party structures) and have become increasingly dependent on the government; state capacity to address our challenges is weak and declining; and leaders of all sectors have become increasingly self-interested, unethical, and unaccountable.

At the heart of South Africa’s problems lie the need to build the capacity, ethics and accountability of the state, and the need for citizens and leaders in all sectors to act in support of a shared national agenda for public good. Citizens and leaders must step forward to address our challenges. An engaged citizenry needs to demand an accountable and effective state. Public trust in public institutions is weak and must be built. We focus strongly on the capacity of the state as a core challenge because almost all of our critical challenges arise from the inability to deliver quality public services to the majority of the population. The quality of our leadership and the role the citizenry plays in the reconstruction of our country will determine how these challenges will be met.

From this diagnosis of the present, the Scenario Team has built three possible scenarios for the future.



Click here to view the Dinokeng Scenario Team