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Submitted by Khetsiwe on
Dear Jim I was delighted to hear of your trip to South Africa and your choice to make that beautiful continent your first field destination. Africa is budding with development promise. It's development challenges have however been too great to allow the magnitude of aid and intellectual capacity provided by the global community to make the difference it should. I think what may be missing is the sense of empowerment and ownership that African citizens must have to persuade themselves and their leaders to commit to making Africa a better place by putting the brains and money where the real need is. The poverty of those who do not have combines with greed of those who have, to create a quick-sand effect which often sinks the impact of the much needed infrastructure, educational and gender development programs that are mounted and evaluated for impact year after year in the African countries which sorely need them. South African leaders, admirable though they are for their past political achievements, need to channel their activism towards more socio-economic transformation. The country is indeed positioned to lead development in the continent, both by example and the impetus it can muster. Not enough is being done on education, health and housing in South Africa given the potential within government coffers and intellectual capacity. With the world's deepest development bench of experts supporting a genuine push by South Africa to become the catalyst and engine of continent wide pro-poor growth, the sky would indeed me the limit. I do hope the good discussion you had with South Africa leaders will lead to a partnership of action. I lived in South Africa for at least two decades. During your trip you may have only seen the bright side. The government's marble floored sophisticated offices, and the factories. There is a very dark side to South Africa. It is the side that has of people living on the city streets, in urban slums and in rural areas- way below any poverty line- just above the thread of survival that lies between life and death. These people have very no hope, no options and get attention only when politicians come by to encourage them to buy some home with their votes. I think you should insist on seeing the full picture of any country that you visit when presented with itineraries that are designed to show case only the successes and what is working. From one development junkie to another, I would say that development is about understanding what is not working, why, what has been tried in the past and what people with the problem can be empowered to do to make things work and deliver a better future. Seeing the bright side of countries does not invoke the very difficult development questions that lead to innovative solutions

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