“You can’t find your way to reform through the forces that made reform necessary in the first place.” US President Woodrow Wilson’s pithy observation is what guarantees that President Ramaphosa’s war room to tackle eThekwini’s infrastructure decay is dead on arrival.

The ANC’s ostensible proactivity in seeking to fix what it has broken and neglected for decades is, of course, election propaganda.  Its call for “interaction” between ministers and the establishment of a “presidential working group alongside business and metro” sounds impressive but comes in the wake of the utter erosion of public confidence in the ability of the ANC regime to do anything positive.

That inability is entirely self-inflicted. From its inception, the SA Public Service Act became the heart of the ANC’s ‘transformation’ strategy. As the cadre documents prove, Luthuli House, the ANC’s HQ, has complete command of all senior government appointments. And below that level, each of those appointees ensures that the ranks in their respective departments were filled with cadres and party hacks.

Three decades of utter politicisation of the civil service, the highest paid in the world, has produced a bureaucratic corpus that prioritises feeding itself instead of performing the tasks for which it is intended.

From the outset, the ANC dismissed merit and autonomy, the two pillars upon which successful Asian economies have been built. No development project could be approved without the comrades and cadres embedded within the labyrinthine ANC bureaucracy getting their cuts. Andre De Ruyter illustrated that in detail in his book, Truth to Power. It’s the reason Elon Musk refused to negotiate with the ANC on his Starlink deal because they wanted a 30% kickback.

Thus, the belated flurry of ANC pretence at fixing what is broken is doomed, because, as Woodrow Wilson stated, you can’t fix the mess using those who created it.  It is also doomed because the men and women who could fix the mess were either pensioned off prematurely or could not be hired because of political and demographic rules which is why overseas countries are now benefiting from their skills.

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