Overwhelmed, unimpressed, & frustrated. But there is another way.
In this edition of the OUTA Newsletter, we reflect on why we have taken up the challenge to reverse Government’s state of disaster (SoD) on the electricity crisis. In so doing, this doesn’t mean we believe our energy crisis doesn't exist. Quite the contrary, we are fully aware of the electricity problems and challenges we have in South Africa, but we are also aware that we have ample laws and regulations in place to tackle the issues that face us. More importantly, we are very aware of the loopholes that are opened up for abuse under the auspices of a state of disaster.
Most frustrating for millions of South Africans and business leaders, is that we are less than a quarter of the way into 2023 and the country has been subjected to listless input from another budget speech, another Presidential SONA filled with empty promises, and a soft cabinet reshuffle that lacks inspiration or confidence.
As we reflect on the current state of South Africa and the poor service delivery emanating from all levels of government, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, unimpressed, and frustrated. But amidst the challenges and various crises we face, lies an opportunity for society and in particular, big business to step up and drive the change we so desperately need.
Our government has proven unreliable and often unable to produce the necessary and substantive change required to turn matters around in many areas that require attention. Accordingly, ordinary citizens, civil society and businesses and being left with no option but to take charge and intervene with solutions to tackle poor service delivery issues.
Change begins when people of stature and authority exercise moral courage and stand up against that which is wrong, which is why we are encouraged by recent action of CEOs and business leaders who have publicly called out the government on their lacklustre performance and poor policy decisions. This is promising and may have been triggered by President Ramaphosa’s recent invitation for business to ‘stop complaining from the side-lines and to step into the ring’. However, talk is one thing and action is everything.
The next crucial step for business leaders and their industry associations is to list the significant issues that are holding the country back from being efficient, growing and creating more jobs. Thereafter, business and civil society should insist on constructive meetings and dialogue at the highest levels in the public sector to start the process of reaching agreement on the issues that require addressing. We also need solutions for the problems, whilst ensuring that big business dominance is never promoted, labour is not exploited, and environmental protection and fair competition principles are prioritised.
Too many talk-shops, summits, and lekgotlas are held to discuss and tackle industry challenges, yet these come to naught due to a lack of implementation or unrealistic proposals made. More often than not, failure to implement is because the work is left in the hands of the public sector to carry out.
In many cases where large or complex administrative and systemic issues require change within the public sector, new structures and people may need to be appointed and empowered to manage the processes and advance the progress of change. Unless all parties (being business, government and civil society) are able to agree on the interventions required to tackle the identified barriers, and business or civil society entities are appointed as the significant drivers of the process, change will most likely not happen
Some may argue that such formal structures already exist in the form of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). However, it's clear that this institution has become an ineffective talk-shop that has largely failed to deal effectively with numerous crises across many sectors. Drastic change calls for drastic measures and doing things differently.
By exercising moral courage and coordinating organized structures to drive impactful change with the buy-in of government, we can drive the necessary change for a better future for all South Africans. The opportunity to make a positive impact needs to be seized sooner rather than later.
Individuals also need to take responsibility and do their part in building a better South Africa. Saying ‘No!’ to corruption and bribery is a small but significant step towards eradicating corruption. Joining an organisation like OUTA to say ‘No!’ and demand change can make a difference. By doing your part and refusing to be a part of the problem, you can change the future of South Africa.
It's up to all of us to speak out and, more importantly, challenge irrational laws and unethical behaviour and resist the temptation of bribes and illegal shortcuts. If we don't act, we should not complain. We all need to play our part when it comes to exercising moral courage, and working together to fix our country.
Lastly, the OUTA team thanks all supporters for making their work possible. Without your donations, we would not exist. Please tell your friends and colleagues about our work. With more financial support, we can do so much more to drive the long overdue changes needed to make South Africa a better place for all.
Remember, all donations to OUTA are tax-deductible, and Section 18 A certificates will be issued on request.
Wayne and OUTA team.