SPEECH: THE CONSTITUTION AND GOOD PUBLIC LEADERSHIP

fwdk-cfcr-breakfastThe preamble to the Constitution sets out succinctly the goals that public leaders should strive to achieve. They include the need:

To achieve these goals government is required to adhere to the following fundamental values:

In providing good public leadership, government is also required to respect, protect and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights. Most of these rights - such as equality, human dignity and life - must be guaranteed by the state with immediate effect. Others are progressive rights that the state must strive to provide through the adoption of legislation and other measures within its available resources. They include housing, health care, water and social security.

These constitutional provisions pretty well define the task of government. 

The question is: how are our public leaders doing?

When it comes to healing "the divisions of the past" we made a good start under President Mandela. He certainly worked successfully to promote reconciliation and to build a new multi-racial nation. We also witnessed a heartening resurgence of national unity and reconciliation during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. However, since then, the situation has deteriorated rapidly as a result of the aggressive implementation of race-based measures that are aimed against minorities in general and whites in particular.

We have done quite well in establishing "a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights". We have independent courts that have consistently upheld the rights of citizens. We will soon be holding our fifth free and fair national election. Parliament functions on democratic lines - although most MPs - because of the proportional representation system - are in practice accountable to their political party bosses rather than to the electorate.

The government’s mandate "to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person" covers most of the rest of its responsibilities. These include its responsibility to protect the lives and property of citizens; to ensure sound economic growth with employment for all; education, health, social and municipal services.

Last week the government provided its own assessment of its performance in the "20 Year Review" which was published conveniently two months before our national elections. The Review provides evidence in support of the ANC’s contention that "South Africa has a good story to tell". Indeed, in many areas government does have a good story to tell regarding the manner in which it has improved the quality of life of its citizens. 

The government should be commended for these achievements.

Desnieteenstaande stem die goedgunstige beeld wat in die 20 Jaar-oorsig uiteengesit word, nie ooreen met die nasionale en internasionale indrukke betreffende die ontwikkelings in Suid-Afrika nie.

Die Oorsig omseil mislukkings - of blameer dit op die nalatenskap van apartheid. Laasgenoemde is ’n maklike benadering omdat dit hoogs onwaarskynlik is dat enige iemand enige kritiek van apartheid sal bevraagteken.

Dit beweer byvoorbeeld dat "die onderwysstelsel onder apartheid doelbewus en uitdruklik ten doel gehad het om te verseker dat Afrikane die bron van ongeskoolde arbeid vir die ekonomie bly". Dit haal ’n aanmerking buite konteks aan, wat in 1956 gemaak is deur Eerste Minister Verwoerd, naamlik dat "daar geen plek bó die vlak van sekere vorms van arbeid is vir swart mense in die Europese gemeenskap nie." Ek wil nie wat hy gesê het goedpraat nie. Die punt is egter dat sy stelling nie die ware prentjie ten opsigte van onderwys bied nie.

Die skrywers van die Oorsig het die De Lange-kommissie heeltemal geïgnoreer, wat in die vroeë 80s aanbeveel het dat alle Suid-Afrikaners - swart en wit - dieselfde leerplan moet volg en aan dieselfde standaard gemeet moet word. Hulle het ook die feit ignoreer dat die aantal swart Suid-Afrikaners wat matriek geslaag het, toegeneem het van minder as 15 000 in 1980 na meer as 210 000 in 1994 - ten spyte van die wydverspreide ontwrigting van onderwys gedurende hierdie tydperk. Ironies genoeg het baie ANC-leiers aan universiteite gegradueer wat deur ’n stelsel gestig is wat volgens hulle "ten doel gehad het om te verseker dat Afrikane die bron van ongeskoolde arbeid bly".