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Calling all to account

Randy Batson

Calling all to account

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“EVERY CLOUD has a silver lining” is a much used and abused cliché, and even as it is further abused in this discourse, it should be emphasised that good intentions abound.

The phrase is apt in light of the various discussions that currently prevail in the public domain. These discussions have, over the last couple of years, ranged from governance, to the local modus of education, economic strategy, public transportation, crime and a whole raft of others.

What seems to be a common feature or outcome of these disparate discussions, though, is that there is clearly a shifting cultural paradigm. This stage of evolution, if one is permitted to call it that, is underscored and given even greater impetus, occurring as it is on the eve of a landmark anniversary of our attainment of Independence.

Sadly, many of the discussions on traditional media and in the blogosphere demonstrate clear political and other bias. Oftentimes the views ventilated on the individual issues are usually by persons with clear vested interest in achieving a particular outcome. This is understandable.

However, it means that on many occasions the views expressed are heavily coloured by emotion and can veer towards the illogical, unreasonable or irrational. The discussions seem to take place outside of broader contextual considerations.

Segments of the community can be heard urgently begging Government for ease from high taxes, fees and so on. Again this is understandable. The unions want respect from Government in its dealings with workers; all perfectly reasonable. However, much of the “confusion” and upheaval and discomfort we are all experiencing is a direct consequence of the tumultuous economic seas we are currently navigating (and not with any real adroitness either!).

It seems that many things that we – again because of our cultural mindset – overlooked, excused, justified or just never pushed back on, are biting us now in an uncomfortable place. Similarly, we seem to be recognising the many shortcomings in our economy and our society that in years passed might have been “ok” and “nothing to fret ’bout”, are far bigger deals than we thought.

The silver lining, therefore, amidst the doom and gloom is that we are having discussion and debate on a whole slew of political, economic and, yes, social issues that demonstrate things will never be the same again on our little rock.

We obviously have to examine what this 21st century Government’s role is in the wider society; how it manages its processes. We the people need to demand forcefully much more of our elected representatives. We need to recognise that even as we strive for First World status, this has implications for our culture and for how we manage all our resources. Words like discipline, responsibility, accountability and transparency have to feature prominently in public discourse.

We tend to be a laid-back, devil-may-care, ostensibly conservative society that relies heavily on suasion, moral or otherwise, to get things done, rather than the more stringent applications of rules, regulations and penalties/incentives. Quite often we are poor at getting many bright ideas implemented and in a timely manner, and without a credible explanation as to why this is the case. Record-keeping and data tracking may not always be up to a high standard. We need to discuss – and regularly – whether these approaches continue to serve us.

But more importantly, we need to reach some conclusions and act fast to reverse the deficiencies, and set our new path forward as a society before we get left behind by the rest of the world and lose all that we have gained over the last 50 years.

Randy Batson