Development challenges

Development challenges

Peace is the quintessential element to any process of development; take the simple image of the embryo that has to develop in the egg: such a process of development from the embryonic stage to that of a hatchling naturally requires for the conditions to be conducive during this incubation stage.
No egg ever hatches in cold turbulent environments but needs to be in warm comfortable conditions to reach maturity.

Our development processes in Africa are hampered largely by lack of peace, a government ascends the seat of power and no sooner than the ministers are sworn in does one begin to hear the beginnings of the roil; and the stirring soon gathers momentum and turns into a stampede out of which stem divisions: and the division automatically means that whatever development plans were put in place in the strategic plans are forgotten, and in their place stem the new currents of fights for power.

There is always the claim that the African continent was once a peaceful place, and the questions is if it was once a peaceful place, why then do we not return to those peaceful old ways in the name of progressive development?

Development is not merely moving forward, for one can develop and then remain stuck in one moment in time and never really progress.
This kind of stagnant development is highly prevalent in this country, where one sees buildings constructed over 30 years ago falling to shambles instead of being maintained to a level where they remain in pristine condition.

Instead of spending large sums on the tearing down and the deconstruction of old buildings, the state can benefit more from establishing (in fact, strengthening) the construction maintenance sections within the public service sector and the relevant ministries.
This should be done with the primary objective of absorbing the large number of unemployed artisans, who despite lacking formal education and qualifications, possess the skill and the experience when it comes to building and construction.

The painting, the restructuring of worn out building components, the installation of electrical equipment where it lacks in clinics in remote areas, and the day to day repairs of such components as door-locks, windows, and others could instead of being outsourced to the private sector be part of the relevant authority resident within the given ministries.
This can create employment for the unemployed and in the same process save the government enough funds to allocate to other projects.

Following this pattern of repair and maintain, instead of the seemingly popular tear-down and rebuild, stands to benefit the state in terms of financial funds, the preservation of cultural and architectural history, and the absorption of the unemployed labour force.

Resources human, natural, and material are said to be abundant on this continent, but what they benefit it is very vague; for we see not where they go.
We only hear tales of corruption when it comes to the exploration of the resources natural and material, and of the human resource in action and in reserve, there are endless stories of exploitation and underpayment.

I had a brother go to work across the border to work as unregistered labour in a construction project, and what would happen is that the employer would set the authorities on them with the advent of each payday, and so they had to run empty-handed back to their lairs under the highways and byways of South Africa’s Gauteng Province.
This, he tells me, is the life many of those that cross the river on to the other side in the land of broken promises in search of work.

There just does not seem to be the concept of reward in many of the sub-contracted firm-owners; the whim is to exploit the foreign labour without conscience, without second thought as to their livelihood, or concern for the families they leave back home.

The “exploitation” of resources is not a one way process, the explorer does not do it only for the benefit of self, but to a large extent, it should be to the benefit of those on whose land the resources are mined.

The old way of the explorer taking all of the available resources for the benefit of self and home country is not mutually beneficial, and in is real terms inhumane; for the mining and exploration projects often leave adverse environmental impacts: who then has to deal with them after the machines are stopped and packed away? It is the landowner and the aboriginal inhabitant that has to deal with them.

The landscape now unfamiliar and dotted with the pockmarks from the digging of the modern-day moles and rats becomes the burden of the citizen who in the least did not benefit from all the activity falsely denoted to be in their favour.

Democracy is a nice term, but it is also a term that is largely abused because it is misunderstood.
Democracy does not mean that the winner takes it all, but it means that there are new representatives in government elected to address the needs of the masses that voted them into power and those that stood “in opposition”.

The kind of defensive democracy where the winning party members hold the false notion that the benefits of government belong only to them, do not understand the concept of democracy to the full; democracy in its young days meant that the elected candidates would stand and debate in an open arena with the masses standing in spectacle of the proceedings of the arguments and the debates in parliament (Parlement or “talking place” as per the Latin origins of the term).
Back then, parliament was an all-inclusive practice that involved all the citizens of the land.

The shift towards the new form of closed parliament (or parliament ‘in camera’ if I may say) meant that the public had to elect delegates that would address their grievances in the privacy of the house.

This trend has led to the masses electing representatives based just on the hope that the elected candidates would present their interests and address their needs in parliament, and if this does not occur, especially in Africa, it does not mean that such an ineffective member of parliament will be demoted and taken out of parliament to be replaced by a more effective public representative.

The exclusive nature with which matters are handled in government with regard to addressing the needs of the masses, has meant that there are only a few limited voices that can be heard when it comes to the presentation of the immediate development needs of the state.

Infrastructure, health, transport, economy, culture, legislature, religion, education, and more are some of the salient components of the process of development. All of them are, or, should be dependent or based upon the needs of the least powerful, the vulnerable of the land and society.
A development plan based only on the needs of the powerful does not fully address the needs of the state, for in its quest to appease those who can afford leaves those that need help the most in their day to day lives.

The justification may be that focus on those that can contribute to the economy means that the state coffers can be filled to the brim in terms of taxes, but in reality, this kind of development strategy and its implementation only serve the needs of one side of society whilst leaving those that need help the most outside.
They are left outside with all of their potential wealth and the power to contribute positively to the economy, and this has a negative impact on the progress of the economy; because lagging behind, those excluded remain the burden of the state and with the passage of time become a burden too heavy to carry: a burden that becomes a hampering factor to the progress of economic development upon which the state and the world depend.

Without roads, or, as is the case with Lesotho, poor quality roads that have to be reconstructed every two years, development will never reach those isolated rural regions where it is most needed.  The trajectory of progress development should follow under normal circumstances gets twisted, and instead of following a straight path ends going around in circles; and then it becomes the rhetoric of the politician who uses it in the campaigns to garner votes: same speeches about same old development troubles that never seem to go away because they are addressed in exclusion.

Access to primary services such as health, education and welfare should not be given less priority than say for example, the per diems of the ministers and the high cost security protocols with their bodyguards, cavalcades and peacock parades in front of the poor masses in worn out shoes and frayed jackets and blankets.
There is more spent on what should be collateral spending than there is on that which is in reality lineal, that is, spending more on the airtime and the fuel of the minister that promised to bring needed changes to the masses that elected him or her into parliament does not make sense.

They cannot access him due to what is called security protocol after he or she enters parliament, and they are left with just the wish to see their representative in more cases than one.
The masses are left without access to their most primary point of access; the party delegate who now resides in a mansion watched over by armed guards who is often “in meetings” and can only be seen via “appointment”.

Access to the basic needs is from the first moment of entry into parliament castrated in this land, obfuscated by excuses and stuttering secretaries that render access to a minister an impossibility.
Access to most of the basic requirements is limited, and this thus means that the possibility to expand the development plans gets limited too.
Commitment to service is a guiding factor in the pursuit of development plans, for without commitment, the system is similar to a car that has all the necessary requirements of travel but lacks the driver.
Commitment to the plan, and having the heart to realise that one is in the service of the masses each morning they go to work in the government office or complex, means that the core development aspects can be addressed and rightfully dealt with as they surface.
Being slow to deal with imminent development challenges and instead shelving them for later soon leads to a pile-up of unfinished work that might never be finished as new development problems and challenges surface.

It is a culture of suspension, an evidence of procrastination that one does not finish set duties on time. The expectation is that after one joins the public service, one would be inspired to deal with the affairs of the public they are serving in a prompt manner. The long queues are a sign that there is something slow in the system, something that should be untaught as a habit borrowed from previous eras.  Commitment teaches one that there is only ‘the now’ which has to be dealt with accordingly.

Openness to innovation means that set rules can sometimes be enriched by new ideas aimed at improving economic and other developments.
Far often, systems that stagnate and lose their sense of operation end up so because they are run on rules that allow no room for improvement.
It may be true that the old is true and tested, but it is also true that such an old can be improved and even bettered by new ideas from those that have had the time to observe it from the point of view of the outsider.

Unity and cooperation in development oftentimes mean that the coordinator and the citizens share ideas on how best they can together deal with the development challenges facing their areas, or, their regions of operation and habit.

There is little success if the development plans are implemented only from the top without the consultation of the masses that need them.
Development is always in need of new partners who with the coordinators of the development plan can find the best ways of dealing with the development challenges facing given regions and areas.

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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