'Political courage needed for bold reforms, acceptance SA in extreme crisis'

Diepsloot residents barricaded roads with rubble and overturned bins during their protest against crime in the area on 6 April 2022. Picture: Masechaba Sefularo/Eyewitness News

| Creative destruction - Bruce Whitfield talks to Dr Terence McNamee, Global Fellow of the Africa Program at the Wilson Center (US).

"Thanks to rolling blackouts, not a single traffic light was working during my 20-minute drive through Johannesburg’s busy northern suburbs to my sons’ school last week. The city’s inescapable emblem of state failure: dead robots."

That's the intro to an article written by Dr Terence McNamee, Global Fellow of the Africa Program at The Wilson Center, for Daily Maverick.

He posits that "only_ creative destruction_ can end South Africa’s governance crisis".

On The Money Show, Dr McNamee explains that he's not using the term in the (Joseph) Schumpeter sense of the strictly economic definition, but more generally.

... to say that what's required in South Africa is something out of the ordinary, something that is radical... that will really, really change the game...

Dr Terence McNamee, Global Fellow of the Africa Program - Wilson Center

...because the incremental nature of reforms simply hasn't worked, and Ramaphosa's gradualism approach - often the subject of debate - I think has proven to be failed in terms of the type of change South Africa has required...

Dr Terence McNamee, Global Fellow of the Africa Program - Wilson Center

As a result, South Africans are hearing more and more big proposals he says.

Dr McNamee put his mind to trying to understand why such proposals have not succeeded in the past.

I suppose the risk for countries is that they go the way of Sri Lanka... a mercifully peaceful overthrow of a corrupt and inept government... but failing to curb poor governance really does lead to the destruction of governments... of leadership structures... We're seeing it happen more and more.

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show host

RELATED: The Sri Lankan protests explained

Dr McNamee cites Georgia as an example of radical transformation in the article.

In South Africa, he says, "radical proposals make for good headlines... but go no further."

Imagine if... any global body could report that South Africa’s 'transformation has been remarkable. That the lights are on, the streets are safe and public services are corruption-free'.

Dr Terence McNamee, Global Fellow of the Africa Program - Wilson Center

This is exactly what the World Bank wrote of Georgia in 2012, following years of intensive reforms driven by then-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Dr Terence McNamee, Global Fellow of the Africa Program - Wilson Center

To realise his principles of rebuilding the economy and zero tolerance for corruption, Saakashvili understood that half-measures were not going to work says McNamee.

One of the leader's risky strategies was firing the whole of Georgia's traffic police force when he realised it was beyond reform.

"Any seriously bold reform is risky, but you have to have the political courage to accept that we are in a crisis like no other and we have to do something dramatic to salvage the situation."
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Listen to Dr McNamee's passionate argument on The Money Show:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Political courage needed for bold reforms, acceptance SA in extreme crisis'

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