SWAZILAND boasts some of the most well-crafted economic development strategies.
One of these is none other than the much talked about Vision 2022 Strategy whose main objective is to catapult the country to First World Status by 2022. This was an observation made by renowned Governance Specialist Dumsani Hlophe who is based in UNISA’s School of Governance in Pretoria.
Even though Vision 2022 is a grand strategy on paper, the biggest challenge lies with the lack of an implementation mechanism and activation plan. “It is one thing to develop a strategy and another to implement it and see results,” he said.
Other documents that received Hlophe’s accolades were the Central Bank of Swaziland’s 2016/17 Economic Report as well as the Minister of Finance’s Budget Speech. He described both documents as being informative, well researched and providing depth into key economic issues.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to admit to you that I never assume to know everything. That it is the reason why I gave myself time to read through all these documents, and I must admit that Swaziland has some of the best well-crafted policies,” he said.
In the spirit of neighbourliness, Hlophe confessed that some South African executives often sit down and ask themselves questions about what South Africa can do to assist Swaziland to develop and become a better country.
He said on paper, Vision 2022 provides a rich base and point of reference on how Swaziland can be assisted to achieve its development milestones. Nevertheless, this grand strategy on paper lacks much needed implementation and activation plans if the country is to realise its development milestones in the year 2022.
Hlophe said if no interventions are put in place to implement this Vision, the country might as well consider shifting its targets to 2030 instead of 2022. Initially, the audience mumbled murmurs of dissatisfaction when Hlophe suggested a shift to 2030, but when he justified his proposition, many nodded their heads in approval.
He made an example of the South African version of Vision 2022, which he said had to be shifted to Vision 2030 simply because of the absence of proper mechanisms to implement this policy into attainable targets by 2022.
Hlophe cautioned that being a first world country comes with its own challenges and deficiencies, one of which is industrialisation. He noted that industrialisation comes with industrial strikes. “As a country, we need to ask ourselves whether we are rather for industrial action because that definitely comes with industrialisation,” he said.
Offering his thoughts on how Swaziland can achieve first world status, Hlophe advised that the country first needs to make sure that its strategies are turned into workable plans. “Government needs to implement a short term, medium and long term human resource capacity development plan to achieve this,” he advised.
Hlophe further advised that to realise its development milestones, the country needs to develop mechanisms which will hold people accountable and spend money wisely as national development priorities should be clearly spelt out. He also stressed on the importance of having a productive public sector.
“There is no way the country can sustain economic growth without a productive public sector,” he said, further sharing a humorous quote, “if there is one thing public servants do not want to do at all, it is doing something for the public.”
The audience chuckled at this quote, but Hlophe was quick to urge public servants in Swaziland to never fall into the trap of not wanting to do anything for the public as developed countries like Singapore had thrived on an effective civil service. He acknowledged that while productivity in the world of business is measured in profits, measures of performance are quite different in the public sector.
Hlophe made an example that in an effective public sector, a patient who wants to see a doctor at the Mbabane Government Hospital, for instance, should not spend more than 15 minutes in the queue. Likewise, he said tourists cannot endure spending two hours at the border post as long queues and delays in such places translate to immigration officers not doing their work properly somehow.
In his third example of measuring public sector productivity, Hlophe said the teaching profession gives a good benchmark of the effectiveness of the civil service. “If teachers are not sure of what they are teaching, what kind of students are we producing?” he wondered, in one of his humorous but practical examples of measuring public sector productivity.
He offered to say data should be readily available for investors who may want to establish their businesses in Swaziland. “The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development should be able to provide data anytime to investors. Providing data is not necessarily a profit oriented thing, but it can help develop the country as investors would be provided with all the information they require,” he said, adding that if the machinery of society, which is its human resource is not functional, then the country will be faced with serious nightmares in building the economy.