Without wanting to support the concept of authoritarian rule, we cannot help but observe that two countries in Africa that have made dramatic changes in the past 20 years – Uganda and Rwanda – are both run by men who are, in effect, dictators.
In both countries, control is exercised from the centre and policy implementation is strictly tracked.
President Paul Kagame in Rwanda has managed to repair the country after the devastation of the genocide.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has helped the country turn around its Aids epidemic and built one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.
We are not saying South Africa needs that sort of government. Indeed, that would drag us back to the time of apartheid, when the dictatorship was based on race and not on any particular individual.
However, there are times when a firm hand from central government is necessary. This is such a time.
North West is failing as state services collapse, people’s anger spills over into the streets and Premier Supra Mahumapelo continues to dig in his heels about going.
So, it was reassuring to hear that President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered central government to take over the functions of the provincial administration. Direct rule by national government cannot be anything as bad as the corrupt system under Mahumapelo.
It remains to be seen whether Mahumapelo will continue what will inevitably be a losing fight to retain his influence in the province.
Ramaphosa may seem a genial person when he has regular walks among the people. But there is steel underneath. And that sort of toughness may be exactly what this country needs now.