Global Values Update: Developing a Sustainable Democracy in South Africa? How Understanding Different Values Can Shape Democracy

Alan Tonkin

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Alan TonkinThe recalling of Thabo Mbeki the President of South Africa by the ANC National Executive marks a possible key turning point in the development of a flourishing democracy in South Africa. Although Mbeki, who was educated in the UK, has been seen as a supporter of policies supporting the development of a strong economy he has also been strongly criticised for his views on AIDS as well as his “quiet diplomacy” in Zimbabwe. He was also seen as aloof and distant by many observers and seemed unable to connect with the “masses” the majority of who are poor and unsophisticated.

By contrast Jacob Zuma the recently elected President of the ANC has his roots in tribal KwaZulu-Natal and was imprisoned on Robben Island for 10 years prior to being part of the “Freedom Struggle” from outside the country. He is also supported by the Trades Unions as well as having significant support from the masses in the rural areas in his home province.

An Introduction to Values Technology
The above two individuals and their supporters have very different world views which can best be described in terms of their differing values systems. This can be described by the ground breaking work of Dr Clare Graves of Union College in New York from the 50’s through the 70’s. This innovative work was further developed by Dr Don Beck from the 80’s, with much of his practical research having been carried out in South Africa in the 1980’s and 90’s.

During the period Beck visited South Africa over 60 times with much of the time being spent here during the period of political transition from the late 80’s through to 1994 and on. Beck was particularly interested at how seemingly intractable issues could be resolved using a new prism of values in order to look at the world differently. In order to achieve this he worked closely with people from all political persuasions as well as with business leaders.

Don Beck co-authored “ The Crucible – Forging South Africa’s Future” with Graham Linscott, a South African journalist who lives in KwaZulu-Natal which was first published in October, 1991. The Crucible was aimed at showing how by using values rather than race opened up a totally new way of viewing both the world and South Africa in particular.

Graham Linscott has worked as a journalist in eleven African countries. His experiences include coverage of the revolutionary wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe as well as several years in the Press Gallery of the South African Parliament. Following the publication of “The Crucible” Linscott published his own book “ Uhuru & Renaissance – South Africa in a New Century” which was published in October, 2001. This book uses the Graves and Beck values approach and looks at how values have influenced African and world history in the 20th Century. It also considers how using a different approach can be beneficial in how to read the African continent as a whole, particularly in the 21st Century.

It was during this period that I worked with Don Beck at Middelburg Steel & Alloys (MS&A) where I was a senior executive and started to understand how his technology could be used for the benefit of many organisations and other bodies, not only in South Africa but globally.

Values and Worldviews in South Africa
In looking at South Africa using the Graves and Beck technology it is clear that the country experiences a wide range of values as indicated in the graphic shown below taken from “ Uhuru & Renaissance.” This graphic is adapted from the original graphic in “The Crucible” and updated in early 2001 by Graham Linscott.

Psychological Map

The graphic provides a historical perspective on South Africa going back to the early 1900’s as well as indicating the current positions of the major political organisations in South Africa in the early 21st Century. It also indicates the stresses and strains on a political party like the ANC which covers a wide area of support nationally, across many differing values systems.

The issue is wider than this when one looks at the distribution of values in South Africa contrasting to the developed world as shown below. This graphic was produced by Don Beck and is used to show the issues facing politicians in a developing country such as South Africa.


Unlike developed economies such as the US and Europe with a predominant values set developed over centuries, the spread of values in developing countries such as South Africa show two peaks with a conflict between the two on how to handle issues from the style of democracy to the economy. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are only now emerging into a twin values profile with Zimbabwe having regressed to Power Red under ZANU – PF.

Nelson Mandela with his unique “Rainbow Nation” approach was able to successfully blend both the developing and developed worldviews. However, Thabo Mbeki with his less personal and more distant approach was not able to secure the same level of support, especially from the rural people in the Tribal Purple and Power Red areas.

A key component of successful emerging economies is that the transition from 3rd to 2nd World is carefully managed. This is one of the reasons why Singapore under Lee Kwan Yu was successful and how China is also making its move to becoming a major global player.

In terms of political system, it is critical that countries consolidate as they move through the Blue Order phase and transition into Orange Enterprise. This requires a leadership style which recognises the need for an orderly move as the Tribal masses move into the mainstream. If this does not happen it is likely that the ANC will split into two factions, one based on Red Power values with the other based on the free enterprise Orange system.

Stratified Democracy

Uncertainty During the Transition
The danger for the current South African government is that Jacob Zuma will be unable to control the hotheads in the ANC Youth League and others who threaten the fledgling democracy. In the event of this transition between the rural Tribal masses and emerging black middle class being handled badly it is more than probable that the ANC will split into the Red Power demagogues and the Pragmatic Orange Enterprise businessmen. The link between the two systems is the stable Blue Order which needs to be strengthened. This will ensure the existing South African economy remains sustainable and continues to prosper and grow.

Jacob Zuma is seen by many to be seen to attempt to appease as many constituencies as possible. This could ultimately lead to many voters being disillusioned, with a backlash against the ANC. There are serious dangers for South Africa at this time and it is important that the values splits are recognised and managed if a successful transition is to continue.

South Africa was set on the “ High Road” by Nelson Mandela and the economic growth under Thabo Mbeki largely continued this trend. Mbeki with all his faults provided a base on which the new ANC leadership could take the country forward. It is however, important that the momentum is not lost through the ambitions of a small group of politicians with strong ambitions of power who do not appear to fully understand this essential requirement.

The current global financial crises could have severe implications for the South African government in terms of its ability to deliver to the poor in the coming years. As developed countries attempt to stabilise their own economies the focus will not be on the developing economies such as South Africa to the same extent. This will result in the possibility of less inward investment in the South African economy in the short to medium term.

Like many developing economies South Africa has experienced the flight of foreign capital to more developed and secure destinations. In addition, the funding of major capital projects such as the building of urgently required additional power stations by ESKOM is going to require large amounts of foreign capital over the next few decades.

The Current Situation: Opportunities & Threats
There are clear indications of a growing split in the ANC as a direct result of the ousting of Thabo Mbeki. There is now a strong possibility of a new centre grouping being formed which could possibly include other existing political parties in some sort of alliance following the scheduled 2009 National Elections. If this happens it could open up the political landscape for two major groupings engaging in a robust debate on the key issues. This would provide a real choice to the electorate between Tribal Purple/Red Power with some Blue Order compared to Blue Order, Orange Enterprise and some Green Environmentalism.

In a major recent new development, Mosioua Lekota, Defence Minister in the Mbeki administration has announced the holding of a National Convention to fully debate the issue of the future of democracy within South Africa. At the Press Conference in Johannesburg last week he also attacked the trend in elements of the new ANC leadership towards hate speech, tribalism and an unwillingness to debate issues and accept dissenting views. What he was highlighting was that the current leadership of the ANC is favouring a Tribal Purple and Red Power position where his new grouping supports the “rule of law” and open debate on the issues of the day. It also appears to indicate a significant movement of many in the electorate into the “middle ground” where stability and economic growth are seen as being critical to a successful and prosperous South Africa.

The above development was further reinforced with the resignation of Mbhazima Shilowa as Premier of Gauteng, the economic powerhouse of South Africa, in order to assist in the coming National Convention. He also resigned as a member of the ANC on 14 October, 2008 and will be organising the coming National Convention to be held on 2 November, 2008. He also made a number of interesting observations relating to some of the key constitutional issues requiring further discussion at the coming National Convention.

The current instability on the border in Zimbabwe has provided South Africans with a negative template of what can happen in terms of a political and economic meltdown. Even those who could have been counted on by the ANC in the past, are now questioning the behaviour of certain elements within the ruling party. In addition, the majority of the population are more concerned about employment opportunities and the delivery of housing, health and education than the current turmoil and infighting in the ANC for power.

In assessing the above values shifts we believe it is very likely that the ANC will split along the lines described above, as the current membership is too spread in values terms to support the divergent views in the organisation. By revisiting the graphic on “Stratified Democracy” on the previous page this is one of the conclusions to be drawn. This could also provide the opportunity for a strong and united middle ground emerging in South African politics with common values centred on multi-party democracy plus personal and economic freedom.

This is a particularly challenging time for both South Africa and the Southern Africa region. We believe that this country has the talents and ability to meet these challenges and move forward in a positive way. We will be updating this brief as further events develop in the coming weeks.

Alan Tonkin
St Francis Bay. South Africa
Updated 15 October, 2008
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