This country is no stranger to scenario planning exercises that seek to outline options and implications that will hold the country ransom or take it forward. Perhaps 17 March 1992 was one such seminal moment, when former President FW de Klerk announced the results of a referendum that sought to test whether to maintain the apartheid status quo or begin the process of reform by ending apartheid and move toward a collective future. The momentum going into the constitutional negotiations was buoyed by the fact that the overwhelming majority of voters at the time had to reflect on two scenarios going forward and 68% of voters wanted change and an end to apartheid.

Scenarios are useful tools to focus the mind and as the summary document of the Indlulamithi Scenarios explain, “a scenario is a constructed story about a possible future. Scenarios facilitate conversations that aim to understand a wide range of driving forces that will impact on the future.” Inhumed within many scenario planning exercises is an inherent set of concerns and a set of proposals about how to address these going forward to reach a modicum of a “blue sky scenario”. In the case of the Indlulamithi Scenarios, the sentiment is aptly summed up, “Indlulamithi seeks to help South Africans realise a common purpose and shared vision that focuses on appreciation of our diversity and on solidarity as a means to development and progress”. This set of scenarios also attempts to hang its hat on the National Development Plan (NDP), launched in 2012, which outlined a vision for South Africa by 2030. It is, “a plan to unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enhance the capability of the state and leaders working together to solve complex problems”. If we do the maths, we have 12 years to fix the country to achieve this vision.

In sum, the Indlulamithi Scenarios posit the following:

These scenarios, like those that came before, seek to jar the populace out of complacency and become infused with either a sense of alarm and/or optimism but clearly not inertia. Going by the Indlulamithi Scenarios, the big question is what it would take to go from iSbhujwa and some Gwara Gwara, where the country currently finds itself, to Nayi le Walk.

Economists and political commentators have, over the years, offered hefty analysis and some very cogent solutions to the real and indisputable problems. These include inequality, poverty, deteriorating levels of education and healthcare, crumbling infrastructure and the parlous state of SOEs, never mind the prospect of a halfway decent growth in GDP. The crisis of unemployment and that of NEETs (a young person who is no longer in the education system and who is not working or being trained for work), is where the alarm bells must ring fast and furiously, as is the grave matter of rejuvenating state institutions like SARS.

While all the above are hard and/or in the realm of material changes that require political will and human and financial resources and global/regional conditions for growth, these will come to naught unless all South Africans grapple with and re-engage with the imperative for social cohesion as a mutually beneficial set of beliefs. This was well summed up in the Canadian Journal of Sociology, “social cohesion is defined as the willingness of members of a society to cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper”. Survive and prosper are words laden with meaning for many in South Africa not only in the economic and political sense but crucially, in terms of social cohesion and nation-building.

At a time when trust is in short order in the county and the harsh reality is one of a breakdown of civility, of an intolerance of tolerance and a difficulty with difference, South Africans must edge away from iSbhujwa where we find ourselves. We must source the tools toward Nayi le Walk because Gwara Gwara must not be an option.

The most vital of constructs for South Africa is a scenario that reinforces the values and tenets of the Constitution and holds sacred the pronouncement in the NDP that, “in 2030, South Africa will be a society where opportunity is not determined by race or birthright, and where citizens accept they have both rights and responsibilities. We will be a united, prosperous, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa”. Time however is moving rapidly, and efforts and results are required lest we arrive in 2030, bereft of that which enjoins us as a nation, irrespective of the best laid-out scenarios, which will simply whiter on the vine.

By Ms Zohra Dawood, Director

{phocadownload view=file|id=69|text=Download the PDF|target=s}