Paper presented at the 26th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 9 - 12 July 2007 "The challenges of implementing policy?", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.
ABSTRACT:The title of the paper reflects the descent of a hopeful “Rainbow Nation” into the realms of the absurd.
The absurd prospect of a Soweto-Johannesburg monorail brings into sharp focus the incongruence of policy formulation and implementation in the transport sector in South Africa. So-called cooperative governance really means that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
It seems that transport professionals are supposed to sit silently in the background obsequiously applauding the wisdom of our political masters. Will we shit! To do so will be to make us irrelevant. If we don’t object we will be consigning ourselves to obsolescence. At any time we can then be called to rubber-stamp incompetent and uninformed decisions. Have we no backbone, no ethics and no leadership? Are we merely ciphers for our political masters?
I for one am tired of the bullshit that underlies many political decisions. If it’s not race its economic growth, or job creation, or offsets or some other plausible bull dust. The paper is about confronting these tendencies if we are to prosper as an enlightened and mature democracy.
Democracy is not about acquiescence, or national unity or the acceptance of authoritarian dictates. It’s about challenging incompetence or corruption or over-centralised policy decisions. Policies are fine as long as they undergo public scrutiny and that must include informed debate. Love them or hate them, at least the ANC Youth League gives leadership in speaking out about things it abhors.
Transport has been particularly prone to “politically correct” approaches to decision-making without the scrutiny of watchdogs asking why and how consultancy contracts, licensing, vehicle registration, information systems and other essential services got into the hands of incompetent and even corrupt service providers.
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