President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday dismissed any suggestions that South Africa was showing signs of a failed state.
Testifying at the SA Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) investigative hearings into last year’s deadly civil unrest that rocked parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, Ramaphosa was asked whether he thought the country was headed towards a failed state.
“We are not a failed state yet and we will not get there,” Ramaphosa said at the SAHRC’s hearing in Sandton, Johannesburg.
He added: “We are not a failing state because we are rebuilding the capacity of the state. We’re taking steps every day to rebuild that capacity.”
The president was responding to remarks made last month by National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane.
Mogajane reportedly warned during a Deloitte conference that South Africa was showing the signs of a failing state, more common in countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.
He said political leaders needed to urgently attend to the country’s pressing socio-economic challenges, or else the country could be headed towards a failed state.
“If that’s not going to be a motivating factor, we can start calling South Africa a failing state because the things that define a failing state are beginning to show, where we don’t care about the poor and improving their lives,” Mogajane was quoted as saying by Sunday Times.
‘Turning the Titanic around’
Ramaphosa conceded government had lost capacity over the years due to state capture and corruption, which resulted in the hollowing of state institutions and state-owned companies.
“We admit that we lost state capacity along the way and it’s like turning the Titanic around. It does not happen in one day, it takes time just like fighting corruption,” he said.
Despite the myriad of challenges besting the country, the president said there were also a lot of positive things happening in SA.
“Rather than looking at the glass and say it’s half-empty, I look at the glass and say: ‘This glass is half full, it’s not half empty.
“We are making progress and dealing with issues that impact on state incapacity [and] the type of things the Treasury director-general was complaining about,” Ramaphosa said.
“We are moving forward rather than standing in one place or moving backward,” he added.