South Africa

Decay in Free State must be recognised to be corrected

Government must implement its side of the social contract: Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature, replies to Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela.

The opinion piece A tripartite social contract is needed for SA’s trajectory in the name of the new Premier of the Free State Province, Sisi Ntombela, correctly indicates “that the vast majority South Africans are not happy or satisfied”.

As reason for this, she refers to statistics that indicate that South Africa scored 128 out of 140 countries on the satisfaction index, 130 on life expectancy, 85th on our ecological footprint and 106th on inequality. However, in her reasoning for these dismal scores she attempts to obviate government responsibility by referring to flaws in a Keynesian approach to the economy which she believes can be corrected by strengthening the social contract and greater local government involvement in the economy.

Ntombela is correct in her definition of the social contract as a situation in which citizens surrender some of their rights to representatives to make laws on their behalf and in return expect that such laws would be favourable to them as citizens. She then goes on to explain that a social contract “becomes meaningless when it excludes people because those excluded might be the ones needed to create the social cohesion needed for the community to prosper”.

Given how the ANC-government has perverted democratic centralism by implementing a cadre deployment policy that has facilitated and entrenched factionalism, corruption and state capture in government, it is disingenuous for Ntombela to create the impression that government has in any way upheld its side of the social contract. Cadre deployment is by definition exclusive in nature and the admission of massive corruption and state capture by senior members in government implies that the dismal country scores that Ntombela refers to are largely self-inflicted.

Being a diverse country with a volatile history of group interactions, the consensus required for a social contract to function in South Africa finds its expression in a negotiated Constitution. The Constitution forms the basis for the continuous maturing of our democratic dispensation based on a set of principles and a bill of rights that is the foundation of social cohesion and political understanding in a melting-pot of diversity. Political rhetoric and destructive actions, such as announcing the divisive intention to expropriate property without compensation, by public representatives have weakened the social contract and with it the prospects for creating greater opportunities for the most vulnerable in society.

Ntombela indicates that the model of the city of Medellin in Colombia should be used to create opportunities for people in South Africa. She states that the municipality first used its assets in order to prioritise and invest in infrastructure, second it successfully used a system of conditional cash grants to the poor and finally it created industrial areas in areas that would benefit the poor.

Being the former MEC responsible for Co-operative Government, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements in the Free State Province she did little to implement such a model. In fact she left this position to become Premier amid a crisis within Free State municipalities that jointly owe Eskom R6.3-billion and water boards over R2-billion. At the same time residents’ health is at risk due to pollution from dysfunctional municipal sewerage systems and waste management sites and corruption induced poor service delivery has destroyed local economies. Her track record in human settlements is similarly dismal with 11,000 housing units incomplete and a backlog of 60,000 title deeds.

While ANC-appointed Ntombela was instrumental in the further decay of Free State municipalities, she has suddenly had a light-bulb moment as the newly elected Premier of the province.

She does not have to go to Colombia for models of economic growth and greater social cohesion, she only has to look at the DA-run metros, municipalities and province that have already started to implement the city-based economic growth model with great successes.

Some examples include the delivery of 4,561 title deeds and a financial turnaround from a R2,3-billion ANC-government debt to a R707,250-million surplus in the bank in Tshwane, the uncovering of R17-billion worth of corruption inherited from the ANC, opening up of 14 opportunity entrepreneurial empowerment centres and upgrading of 51 informal settlements over the next three years in Johannesburg, training 600 job-seekers with artisan skills and launching a Metro Police with 114 trained officers in Nelson Mandela Bay and 89,000 more residents employed and 15,664 new houses built in the Cape Town.

The DA-run Western Cape Province has similarly secured R7.2-billion in investments, negotiated 64 trade deals worth R11-billion, built 131 new schools with 2400 classrooms and expanded broadband coverage to 1200 schools, 422 libraries, 400 public facilities and 178 wi-fi hotspots.

These DA-run government successes are largely due to a professional civil service and programmes based on freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.

While leaders of the ANC now acknowledge statistics that indicate that greater South Africa is in a process of decay, they have also only just learnt that the many service delivery protests across the country are a result of their perverted perception that citizens are there to serve representatives in government, and not the other way around.

Since Premier Ntombela has a newfound interest in the social contract, she must note that when a government fails in its responsibility to meet its side of the contract, citizens have a natural right to resist that government. This was the basis for the liberation struggle in South Africa and it did not fall away with the dawn of democracy. Unless the ANC-led government in the Free State headed by Premier Sisi Ntombela acknowledges that the decay in the province is self-inflicted, it will never be able to self-correct. DM

Dr Roy Jankielsohn is the Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

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