Other nations provide guidelines for successful state

I READ the letter from M Ralo about how our mayor's metro address gave him hope ("Mayor gives metro hope", April 15). He went on to provide some brief histories of other countries and implied that, in comparison, South Africa had done so well in only 20 years.

I take his point, but it was the dates that had me reaching for Google and the Herald letters e-mail address. It was the Irish independence that he says was in 1992 that got me started!

I do not think many Brits would see 1640 as a date of transformation, but I am not the historian to be dogmatic on this point. In fact the current position of England has taken thousands of years to establish.

With regard to Ireland, there is a lot of confusion between Northern Ireland and Eire/Ireland. Independence for the Republic of Ireland was in 1922, but six areas remained part of the UK, that is Northern Ireland.

But all of this is not the point. No one expects South Africa to take 2000 years to develop because it had the head start provided by the experiences and successes of these other transformations.

The record of what works and what doesn't is there to see and take advantage of. We have lots of examples of failed states, and years of trial and error.

Flowing from all of this are some fairly simple guidelines such as:

  • It is not a good idea to "steal" from the taxpayer. They really do not like it;
  • Do not promise things that you cannot deliver, for instance "peace in our time" by Neville Chamberlain in 1938. Over the next seven years some 50 million people died in World War 2;
  • Competence out-trumps political or religious affiliations, etc;
  • Communism failed;
  • Companies create jobs, not governments;
  • Politicians are servants of the people.
The Pope shows how well received he is when one is modest and caring. Add honesty and integrity, and that makes a powerful recipe for governance.

One could go on and on. It does not help if government employees praise the ANC when it is not due, even allowing for the unquestioned growth of South Africa since 1994.

I am an Arsenal supporter (it is a cross I have to bear) and being in the top six is not good enough. Fighting to avoid relegation is unthinkable.

South Africa should be a powerhouse of the world, leading the way in a glorious example of how reconciliation can use our superb natural resources to provide wealth for all. WE are not Sunderland and If we do not think or compare ourselves with winners then we will remain the mediocre country that we have turned into.

There is great reason to hold onto hope, but the current Port Elizabeth governance is not the route forward nor the cup of hope we need. But thanks for prompting my interest.

Alan Patrick, Port Elizabeth