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You can never leave it up to the politicians
April 27th, 2010 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

<This written in response to reading a post on Law24>

If you believe in democracy you have to concede that ultimately, the people who are elected into office represent the people who you voted for. I think the mistake that is made is thinking that politicians are a different kind of people. We hold them up to idealized notions which the general populace could never live up to. We compare our politicians to those from other countries and ask ourselves, “Why are our representatives drawing such huge salaries?”

No different during the time of apartheid, the makeup of the government workforce is directly related to rewarding those who voted for them. As long as politics is seen as a way to get ahead instead of as a public service, corruption will continue. It is my opinion that most democratic systems suffer from this. So why is it that we sit with such a huge corruption problem?

The reality is that economic empowerment in SA is limited. The majority of South Africans have been denied access to opportunities that people in the first world take for granted. Basic skills are lacking that are required for economic development. What is even worse is that even if the basic skills are there, the current state of the economy inhibits the ability for those skills to be employed. Since there’s not enough business opportunities available, the next best thing then is to go and work for government.

So you end up with two scenarios. Unskilled people in government or skilled people in an organisation (government) where there is no incentive or motivation to excel. In the 1st world, politics is seen as a 2nd or 3rd career choice. Engineers change their career choice to business because of the motivation to earn more money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn’t want those kinds of people to be in government. I think the motivation for financial gain is directly at odds with public service. The answer to the question of SA corruption is this: In 1st world countries there is simply less incentive to be corrupt. So how do we fix this?

The answer, as always, is with time and education. I believe that skills and education drive innovation and economic development. If we emphasise these attributes, people will not need to rely on government for opportunities. Government will then do what it is supposed to do: Ensure that the basic rights of people are satisfied and that the way skills and education is employed is ethical and lawful.

So what is the point of this post (or rant). The point is that we should not look to politicians to improve our lives. They are ordinary people just like us with their own motivations. If we want to fix SA then we need to look to ourselves to improve things. It is us who can identify opportunities. It is us who can take risks. And it will be us who will benefit.