MasterClass Series highlights importance of improved governance systems

by Tebogo Tabane 

17 November 2023

The National School of Government (NSG) in partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT’s) Faculty of Humanities hosted a special lecture by Prof GONG Weibin, the Vice-President of the China National Academy of Governance on 9 November at Dinokeng (Building 21) at the Pretoria Campus. Prof GONG Weibin and his delegation were visiting South Africa for a series of strategic engagements with the NSG and academic institutions from 8 - 10 November 2023. 

Prof Gong Weibin delivering the keynote address at the MasterClass Series Public Lecture.

Titled "Improving National Governance Systems for Enhanced Development Outcomes", the lecture centred around China’s development model that helped to transform it to become the second largest economy in the world. In attendance, including through various social media platforms, was senior management representatives of the South African public service, academics and students from TUT as well as other universities in South Africa.  

Welcoming the guest speaker and the audience, Prof Mashupye Maserumule, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, said by co-hosting this MasterClass as a public lecture, which is part of many that we have already hosted and more to come, we demonstrate the importance of thought leadership as lodestar in navigating the complexities of managing our co-existence as the function of public affairs.

“And this is part of what the partnership between TUT and NSG is about - creating an ideational platform for building state capacity and institutional capability. This is because nations that succeed have one thing in common:  rise in the stock of ideas to optimise the nation’s innovative capacity.  And ideas transcend boundaries.  It is for this reason that today we have one of the finest minds from China to assist us in making sense of our complexities. For, how China turned around its fortunes, remains an important lesson for modern civilisation,” he said.

“One of the key features of China’s development model is that it is anchored on the people – in other words in managing public affairs people matters, hence we also have the Batho Pele principle in our country,” he added.

Delivering his speech, Prof Weibin said all countries need an effective national government system which needs to be based on the account of its history, culture, prevailing national conditions, social structures and people’s needs and furthermore there are no two countries that are 100% identical.

Sharing some milestones, Prof Weibin said in 1949 the People’s Republic of China achieved national independence from long time suffering. And from 1978, China has implemented a policy to move forward and open up to other countries and learned from their experiences and see how those experiences can be integrated into China’s modernisation. “All this has helped China to become the second largest economy in the world,” said Prof Weibin. 

Prof Gong Weibin and Prof Mashupye Maserumule listened attentively as they took questions from the audience during the MasterClass Series Public Lecture.  

“China’s GDP per capita has increased from 156 dollars in 1978 to 12 700 dollars in 2022, which is an increase of more than 80 percent. China’s goal is to create the best education system, social security and health systems, which will bring people relief, a sense of security and much happiness. Statistics further shows that tertiary enrolment has increased from 10% in 2012 to 59.6% in 2022. The government has encouraged the Chinese people to create two miracles – rapid economic development and long-term social stability,” he said.

“Over the years, China has achieved healthy and stable economic development and has also achieved social development and created an environment where people work and live together in harmony,” he added.

The lecture ignited an animated conversation that the Principal of the NSG, Prof Busani Ngcaweni ably facilitated. Reflecting on it, Prof Ricky Mukonza said Prof Weibin has shared several important issues that can be considered to improve the South African national government system. He added that the lecture also highlighted some of the reforms that China underwent to move to where it is today. Currently, China’s GDP is growing at an average rate of 7.9 percent. 

The Director-General of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Robert Nkuna, also reflected on the importance of the MasterClass Series and Public Lecture. 

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