Let’s imagine for a minute Ennerdale and Coligny have stopped burning. The knife-fight in the ANC is over and the 2019 elections have come and gone. Now Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is the fifth democratically elected president of South Africa – and will have inherited a deeply flawed country with a stagnant economy and a lingering fever of social protest.
What should our then president of the Republic, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, a veteran politician, businessman, activist, and former trade union leader and chairman of the National Planning Commission do in his first 100 days in office to rescue the country?
Here are 10 suggestions that will give most South Africans hope:
1. Call on the corrupt cronies and remind them of the law, the courts and what life is like in South Africa’s prisons. As part of this tightening of the noose, reinforce the independence of the Public Protector, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) from the police and from political interference.
2. Mandate a task force to give all recipients of homes and land since 1994 title deeds to their properties, as the first step of an accelerated land reform programme. This must include the conceptualisation of a programme to give every South African who expresses an interest in subsistence farming access to a “land grant”, a portion of currently fallow farmland.
3. Give the EFF and ultimatum and send a signal to the anarchists like Andile Mngxitama that South Africa is a law-based society and will not tolerate the kind of thuggery one would expect in a badly-run shebeen. This will remind those agitating for “militancy” that prosperity and equality can best be achieved through productive engagement and that incitement to violence, racial scapegoating and hate-speech are crimes.
4. Convene a strategic industrial summit with sector-specific business associations, slanted towards SMME participation with counterparts from Beijing, Frankfurt, London, Paris and Washington DC. The focus of such an engagement must be: rapidly expanding South Africa’s industrial capacity and upskilling the nine million young unemployed South Africans of working age to draw them into the labour market. The target must be to do so in under ten years.
5. Set up the South African Institute for Diversity, Race and Humanity tasked with crafting a new curriculum for civic education on racial diversity, human dignity and socio-cultural rights. This institute should begin its work by hosting hearings that explore the relationship of ethnocide, the deliberate and systematic decimation of culture, with individualised alienation resulting from modernism. As philosopher Herbert Spencer explained, “civilisation is a progress from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity toward a definite, coherent heterogeneity” and “life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations”, the dislocating effects of which on Africans needs to be better understood.
6. Phone Robert Mugabe and broker a deal, explaining that he is deeply respected for his role in liberating Zimbabwe but that his national great-grandchildren would like to return home from exile in South Africa and so he should retire. This will spur a return to regional growth and normalise some of our massively skewed migration patterns.
7. Convene a network for tertiary education expansion aimed at repositioning South Africa as the destination of choice for graduate studies by global scholars, and African scholars in particular. This must form part of a broader education reform agenda which seeks to make a first basic degree available free of charge to all matriculants who have a 60% pass rate. Yes, that’s exclusionary initially, but the world won’t sit around and wait for the 30% percentiles “progressed” through the grades to realise that their mind is an inalienable asset which only they themselves can exploit.
8. Send a memo to all financial institutions operating in South Africa and invite them to contribute to the development of a sectoral strategy to mainstream access to venture capital and angel investment for startups in renewable energy, auto-component manufacturing and enterprise development for supply-chain transformation. This should he followed shortly by a similar memo to all state-owned enterprises that a zero-tolerance, and I mean zero, approach will be taken in relation to good governance and transparency in SOEs.
9. Reduce the number of South African embassies, consulates and high commissions around the world from 66 to 30. Plus remove all visa requirements for foreign nationals visiting South Africa from middle-income and developed countries, granting 90-day short-stay permits on arrival for tourists and six-month visas for skilled workers in sectors where we lack skills. This will reduce the unproductive splurge of global PR undertaken since president Mandela, and instead attract skilled foreigners to come and contribute to our national reservoir of know-how.
10. Introduce a work-based detention programme through public works and correctional services, whereby any criminal convicted of robbery, hijacking, armed assault or rape will be required to do community service under the supervision of prison services. This will help to fasttrack the road network, rail network and high-speed train network that an advanced economy like ours requires to thrive, while choking our epidemic of petty criminality and taking loitering and hungry youths off the streets.
There are limits to what a president alone can do. But there are no limits to what a president can set in motion. South Africa is crying out for leadership. South Africans are waiting, desperately looking for the direction, decisiveness and certainty to be provided by someone who “gets it”, who understands how to make the circle bigger.
Cyril Ramaphosa can be that person. If not him, then who?
Marius Oosthuizen is a member of faculty at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He teaches leadership, strategy and ethics. He oversees the Future of Business in SA project which uses strategic foresight and scenario planning to explore the future of South Africa. @marius_oost