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23 September 2010

Running a country 101

Running a country is clearly no easy job. But sometimes we need to get back to the real basics, says Susan Erasmus.

Running a country is clearly no easy job. But sometimes we need to get back to the real basics, says Susan Erasmus.

I can think of several jobs I would prefer to that of the president of SA, such as a cleaner at the mortuary or a kamikaze pilot.

The current government has inherited a country as socially and economically fractured and divided as a country that has been at war. In fact, for at least three decades, we probably were involved in a low-grade civil war. People just chose not to call it that. Language is such a handy thing.

And anyone who expects any government to eradicate such an inheritance in 16 years is just being naïve. The sins of the fathers and all that. We should never underestimate the long-term consequences of injustice and chaos on people. All the people. But by the same token, it should also not be used as a one-size-fits-all excuse for any current incompetency or inefficiency.

The ruling party is not the state. In short, however much it feels like it, it's not about you, your bank balance and your career. It's about the close on 50 million people you represent as an MP. Many of them didn't even vote for you. All the more reason why you should attend committee meetings and do your job well. You are doing it on behalf of hundreds of thousands of others. You owe it to them. They pay your salary. Getting to the top is not the green light for sitting on your backside: it's the beginning of some really hard work. You can party later.

 
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