We Need Skills and Commitment of All South Africans More Than Ever

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Mathews Phosa

South Africa is facing some of the biggest and most interesting challenges since becoming a democracy.

We have a government in transition while our regional situation begs for strong leadership and a deepening of the principles of democracy established here in 1994.

Mixed into that, we have a number of challenges, such as the so-called xenophobia phenomenon and socio-economic challenges, facing us as a nation and as a government.

It is at a time such as this that leaders emerge, entrepreneurs flourish and the toughest of the tough seek opportunities to positively change the fortunes of this nation of ours.

It is at times such as this that we need leaders in business to come forward with innovative ideas on how to partner the government and to transform challenges into opportunities.

I am an eternal optimist and survivor. When I wake up to our democracy every day, my starting point is: how do I make a difference, how do I give further substance to the gains of our democracy, how do I deepen social transformation, and how do I broaden the benefits of our economic programmes?

It is a time for us to stay in South Africa, not to leave; it is time for optimism and not pessimism; and it is also a time to put shoulder to the wheel and seek and develop opportunities.

It is, in fact, a time to prove all our sceptics wrong.

In this environment, I want to state clearly, we need the skills of both black and white South Africans, but we specifically need those much sought-after skills that many South Africans want to take overseas and that some have already taken abroad.

We need you to make future planning a success, we need you to help us deliver on 2010, and we need you to assist us in fast-tracking government delivery systems.

As an elected leader of the ANC, I want to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

One of the mistakes we made during transformation was to allow a process that resulted in too many casualties of well-meaning, skilful and patriotic experts in the public sector.

In addition, the exit of white people from the civil service who had a contribution to make followed an unfortunate course that resulted in a skills vacuum in some areas of the public service. It is something that we aim to correct over time to ensure that those experts who can add substantial value to public service delivery will be given a chance to return and make the contribution that they were trained to do.

It is no secret that we need such skills in financial management, in information technology, and in sensitive aspects of safety, crime and judicial management.

I need the help of the private sector in assisting the ANC to ensure that we develop a database not only of those experts that can assist our key public enterprises, but also of a number of other state departments that need specialists to assist them in their quest for improved delivery. …