Step One: 35 leaders
representing different sectors
of society come together to
discuss the current political,
social and economic realities
facing South Africa.
Step Two: Scenario stories
on possible futures for South
Africa are developed and the
messages of the Dinokeng
Scenarios are shared with
Step Three: A media and
engagement campaign is
launched to extend the reach
of the Dinokeng Scenarios
to organisations, groups
and communities across
In July 2008, the composition of the Scenario Team was finalised and the Dinokeng process
began in earnest. Two distinct though over-lapping phases were planned. The first focussed
on constructing and capturing the scenarios, the second on implementing the most effective
means of sharing this work with others.
The first phase of the Dinokeng exercise involved an intensive process spanning ten months,
from August 2008 to April 2009. It included interviews with all Scenario Team members,
three three-day workshops in 2008 and a fourth workshop in February 2009.
The objective of the interviews was to allow Scenario Team members to highlight what they
saw as the key accomplishments and pressing challenges of our time. Several themes
emerged and these laid the basis for the diagnosis that followed. These themes included:
- Our nation’s psyche;
- The character of our democracy;
- Our current political moment;
- Our government’s capacity to deliver in core public areas such as education and
- Our model of development and growth.
At the first workshop the Scenario Team reviewed the focal questions raised in the interviews
and through structured conversations, developed their understanding of the key challenges
facing the country.
As part of the learning process, team members also visited six local sites – a prison, two
orphanages, a farmers’ fair, a local government official and a woman who trains people in
organic farming. Meeting the people who volunteer in these projects – Mark Harding, the
retiree who volunteers at the orphanage or Ma Tshepo who runs the organic farming
project – gave Team members a sense of hope in South Africa’s reservoir of social capital.
The second workshop was largely taken up with the input of experts on various issues
ranging from the state of education and health in South Africa, to poverty and unemployment,
race and identity, and the role of leadership in all sectors including the trade unions, business,
political parties and government.
By the end of the second workshop the Scenario Team had identified some of the key
challenges facing the country and organised these around four drivers that were seen to
underpin our present and future: leadership and governance, economic development,
education, and race and identity. Within this framework, specific focus was placed on values
and accountability, unemployment, poverty and inequality, educational performance and
the skills deficit, and nation-building. The team also pinpointed other critical challenges
including the state of public health, the threat of crime, and the situation of the youth.
Through the course of the process, the Team refined their analysis of the primary underlying
trends and the most urgent and critical challenges facing the country. This analysis is
reflected in the diagnosis and Dinokeng message.
In the third and fourth workshops the Team built on their diagnosis of the present to construct
the scenarios and develop the Dinokeng Message.
Phase two of the Dinokeng process entails the dissemination of the Dinokeng message to
audiences across South Africa. This will involve the development of materials to facilitate
communication through the media, and to support a series of meetings, presentations
In effect, this phase of the process was set in motion after the first workshop when
Scenario Team members began sharing the purpose of Dinokeng within their own networks,
and has continued through regular briefings of influential stakeholders.
In undertaking this exercise, the Scenario Team has been guided by two pillars. The first
pillar rests on the fundamental values outlined in the Constitution. The second pillar is
the heritage of our past.
Any diagnosis of the present is, by its very nature, a highly contested exercise. This was
particularly the case in a group as diverse as the Dinokeng Scenario Team. What is presented,
therefore, is not a consensus position. Rather, it captures the collective wisdom of the group,
grounded in a common commitment to the values of the Constitution and an acknowledge -
ment of the heritage of our past. Invariably, the perceptions are largely subjective but, we
have drawn on external expertise and substantiated our reasoning with factual research
South Africa’s Constitution was the result of a difficult but inclusive negotiation process.
It was drafted with an acute awareness of the injustices of the country's non-democratic
past in order never to repeat the mistakes of the past. It is widely regarded as one of the
most progressive constitutions in the world, with a Bill of Rights second to none. According
to former President Mandela:
“The Constitution of South Africa speaks of both
the past and the future. On the one hand, it is
a solemn pact in which we, as South Africans,
declare to one another that we shall never permit
a repetition of our racist, brutal and repressive
past. But it is more than that. It is also a charter
for the transformation of our country into one
which is truly shared by all its people – a country
which in the fullest sense belongs to all of us, black
and white, women and men.”1
Central to the Dinokeng discussions are the following core values drawn from the Constitution:
- Human rights and basic freedoms.
- Socio-economic rights – including a pledge to improve the quality of life of all citizens
through access to housing, healthcare, food, water, social security and education.
- Non-racialism and non-sexism.
- Supremacy of the rule of law and the Constitution.
- The pledge to promote an efficient public administration in the Bill of Rights under ‘just
- The provision, in chapter 10, that public administration must be accountable and
- The clause, in chapter 10, which states that no official should be favoured or prejudiced
on the basis of their party affiliation.
In terms of the heritage of our past, if we simply focus on our aspirations without
acknowledging the depth of our political, economic and social legacy, we are likely to be
disillusioned. However, if we use our heritage as an excuse for mediocrity, we will slide into
A SHARED UNDERSTANDING
In the course of the Scenario Team’s discussions, a shared understanding emerged within
the group. This understanding can be described as follows:
South Africans have achieved a great deal since 1994, despite our history and the
deep challenges we inherited. Our accomplishments are all the more remarkable
in that we defied international and even local scepticism about our ability to sort out
However, South Africa now stands at a crossroads. We have got some key things
wrong over the past 15 years and we face critical social and economic challenges
that are exacerbated by the increasingly constrained global environment.
All of us, and not simply government, have contributed to creating our problems.
If we continue doing what we are doing, we run the risk of unravelling the gains we
have made since 1994.
A core aspect of our current reality is that we have a weak state with a declining
capacity to address our critical challenges. Any suggestion that the solution to our
problems lies in the state, with its already proven lack of capacity, assuming an
even greater interventionist role in the development of the economy and society,
is misplaced and a recipe for disaster. At the same time it is worrying that civil
society has, since 1994, tended to adopt a very statist view of the country, with
the expectation that government should do everything. We believe that this too is
a recipe for disaster.
Central to a future recovery strategy are two key elements.
One relates to matters of mindset, including leadership with clarity of purpose, as
well as diminishing the sense of dependence among the citizenry. The other relates
to tackling the key challenges outlined in our diagnosis, including education, crime,
economic development and healthcare provision.
Ultimately it is the state that is responsible for delivering quality public services to the
population. It is also the state that is responsible for defining the rules of the game, for
ensuring that things happen. Parliament and the cabinet consist of people who have
been elected to govern. They must be competent at doing that. However if we as
citizens do not hold our leadership in government and Parliament to account then we
cannot complain when delivery is poor. “We get the leaders we deserve.”
All of us must contribute to creating solutions. Citizens and leaders from all sectors
must assume responsibility for co-creating solutions to address our challenges. Only
in this way can we hope to navigate our way towards a future that lives up to the
promise of 1994.
The Dinokeng message arises out of this shared understanding.
|VOICES OF DINOKENG
Perspectives from members of
the Dinokeng Scenario Team.
Futures are never given. They
We are at a crossroads, but what
is wrong in South Africa can be
fixed. South Africa is a country
of great possibility. We have a
reasonably strong asset base. But
we also have a deficit – we are
badly served by our leadership.
There are dangerous seeds in our
present which have the potential
to lead us to disaster, possibly even
authoritarian rule. This is a
moment of choice that requires
strong decisive leadership.
There are many inspiring leaders,
like the Ma Tshepos of the world.
They are leaders without needing
to hold status, without needing to
be deployed. This leadership comes
often not from “connected BEE
people”, but from people with
limited budgets and resources who
nonetheless make things happen.
Their social entrepreneurship
is inspiring. By contrast, there
is “indifferent obfuscating
officialdom”, like the [official] who
was late to meet us, self-important
and very busy. The heraldry of
power makes these officials
uninterested in the citizens they
are meant to be serving.
We are facing enormous
challenges such as poverty,
underdevelopment, health and
education. And like a computer,
we are hanging.
A big plus for South Africa is
that we have a constitutional
democracy. We must ensure that
we make the Constitution breathe
life and make it a living reality.
We have values enshrined in
the Constitution, which we
We seriously underestimated the
impact of the legacy of apartheid.
We thought that we had it all –
a fantastic Constitution, Madiba,
a rainbow nation. We just did not
reckon with how deep the impacts
were of the system that had been
designed to fail the majority.
The current moment is a moment
of extreme danger. It is also a
moment of opportunity. We have
an opportunity to stop the rot.
This is a moment in time, a fork
in the road, a chance to choose
our destiny, an opportunity for
South Africa to do the right thing.
South Africa is not an island.
We are not playing only a local
chess game, but a global one.
The local/global interaction is
We need to look at the capacity of
the state to deliver before we argue
for more state intervention.
If I could ask an oracle a question
about the future I would want to
know whether we had been
granted the grace of truly
transformative leaders who can
help inspire and mobilise civil
society, the private and public
sectors to realise the dreams
embedded in the preamble of the Constitution of South Africa.
I would ask the oracle how we as
a civil society and as citizens can
best learn to be better stewards
of democracy. Because we get the
leaders we deserve. I would ask
the oracle how we can re-inculcate
the values that drove so many of
us to sacrifice so much for this
democracy to be born. A dream
that has been replaced by rampant
materialism, greed, corruption
and total disrespect for basic
human values…. We need to get
back what we have lost.
Issues of morality are important;
how people vote and select the
quality of their leaders is
important. Can our leadership
save us, or can the masses save
South Africa through the way
that they elect their leaders?