Leadership and Legitimacy 2007 Transformation Audit
Editor: Sue Brown
One of the essential functions of national leadership is to continuously construct a national sense of identity and mutual trust, and another is to ensure the effectiveness of institutions, both of delivery and democracy. In both these ways, this has been a hard year.
In 2007 Transformation Audit, focus on leadership and legitimacy, we see a paradox: normally in democracies, economic and employment growth see higher ratings for government. But public confidence seems to be severely shaken.
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation conducts a yearly representative national public opinion survey called the South African Reconciliation Barometer, and the results this year constitute a stark warning. Confidence in leaders, and above all in reprensentative instituitions, has dropped sharply.
In addition, approval of government's performance has dropped by over 20% from the 2006 year on issues such as transparency and accountability: correct appointments; affirmative action; crime; narrowing the income the gap and fighting corruption.
Government and the ruling party face the imperative of healing the rifts opened by the protracted leadership battle, and regaining the trust both have lost.
Education, skills and poverty reduction are crucial elements of intervention for opening up prospects of advancement for all. New legislation is pending for the skills sector, and a review of the Sector Education and Training Authorities gives a sense of the institutional and management hold-ups here.
In schooling, the Department of Education is grappling with entrenched incapacities in the educational bureaucracy and at school level. School leaders and, above all, teachers are the points on which the entire structure pivots.
The Transformation Audit's poverty scorecards see poverty receding frighteningly slowly, 45.5% of South Africans below a poverty line of R3 000 per year in 2000 rands. Although access to grants and social services is substantial, inequality remains among the highest in the world. This creates perceived deprivation, undermining goverment legitimacy.
Over all, our scorecards show policy inroads into crucial areas of concern for the poor, but increasingly it is the hearts of South Africans that are disaffected.
It is time for us as a nation to get back to a conversation about leadership and the rules we will rededicate ourselves to, in a search for national unity, coherence and social trust.