South African Futures 2030: How Bafana Bafana made Mandela Magic

tesse blog pic

Tesse Heijmerink

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) launched a new paper on the 19th of February during a seminar held at their office in Pretoria. This organisation aims to enhance human security on the continent by providing independent and authoritative research, expert policy analysis and advice, practical training and technical assistance. This latest paper in the African Futures series comes only a few months prior to one of the most important days in South Africa in 2014: the general elections.

The course set on 7 May will shape South Africa’s prospects at a time of political turbulence and economic uncertainty. As part of the African Futures Project at the ISS, Dr. Jakkie Cilliers – Executive Director, ISS – has assessed the country’s long-term options, concluding that three trajectories are possible up to 2030: ‘Bafana Bafana’, ‘A Nation Divided’ and ‘Mandela Magic’.

After displaying a brief and compelling film which showed the main points of the paper, author and speaker Dr. Jakkie Cilliers discussed the significant impact that policy and leadership choices will have in the coming years. South Africa’s current development pathway, ‘Bafana Bafana’, is named after the national football team with reason; it symbolizes the story of a perennial underachiever, despite its potential for international success.

The current domestic context shows a debilitating impact on service delivery and people’s trust in government. Examples include the appointment of a National Director of Public Prosecutions who had to leave after the Supreme Court of Appeal found his appointment irrational and efforts to protect the head of police crime intelligence, who is facing a raft of serious criminal charges.

In this scenario, key criminal-justice institutions such as the police continue to face leadership challenges and only register a modicum of success in dealing with violent crime. The results are continued high levels of crime and service-delivery protest. Furthermore, many senior and sensitive appointments in key positions, particularly in the judiciary and the criminal-justice system, continue to be made on the basis of personal and party loyalty and not merit.  

‘A Nation Divided’ tracks the fallout of factionalism and populist polices and therefore shows the most depressing of the three pathways. Ongoing labour unrest, service-delivery protest and violent xenophobic attacks polarise communities. In response, the government is forced to increase defence and security expenditure. The number of people shot dead by the police will increases from 556 people in 2009 to more than 1000 in 2016. Criminal-justice institutions creak under constant political interference, the crisis of leadership, reduced capacity, and lack of transparency and integrity.

‘Mandela Magic’ on the other hand, reflects a country with a clear economic and developmental vision. Top leadership renews its commitment to the rule of law and ensures the independence of the judiciary, declaring and adhering to principles of transparency. Fairness and integrity are evident in leadership appointments to key criminal-justice institutions. After the 2014 elections, the Parliament enacts a series of laws in the years that follow to reduce red tape and bureaucracy.                

The strategic interventions that could set South Africa on the most prosperous ‘Mandela Magic’-pathway are, according to Dr. Jakkie Cilliers, electoral reform in order to get political accountability, the focus on values and ethics to fight corruption, fixed education to equalize opportunities and economic growth to increase employment and reduce inequality.

For more information see:

Paper: South Africa Futures 2030; How Bafana Bafana made Mandela Magic      

South African futures 2030: The podcast

The future of South Africa: seven things that need to happen

Timely study of South Africa’s future gets the country talking     

South Africans must decide what kind of country they want

The post Development Agenda: new goals, no goals – or own goals?     


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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