– Why those who argue South Africa needs good leadership are wrong?-
In recent times the debate on South African leadership has received much publicity, most of it coming from a cohort of analysts across all walks of our refusing summer to come canvas.
This cohort is not free from those who act as new claimed moral guardians, academics, and politicians even now former presidents in Thabo Mbeki and FW De Klerk. These have joined the lamenting chorus of Ramphela, Pityana, Habib, the bias Midrand Group afforded space galore to vent the systemic campaign in the name of a yesteryear celebration of whomever as the maximum symbol of so-called good leadership.
The challenge firstly for me on this subject lies in the fact that leadership for the crossbreed of commentators and those I already mentioned is conveniently narrowly and exclusively defined in political leadership.
These have deliberately and opaquely drawn the contours of the leadership definition and question from an arrogated purist vantage point, in which leadership is understood as measured in a political term definition. This is a deliberate and very misleading attempt at superimposing their conclusive views on that of a person namely a sitting president as the prove of such bemoaned leadership.
Those who argue we need good leadership have for whatever reason not proven honest to reflect on their direct portfolios, in giving us as active and involved people their analysis of South Africa defined for example in education if they are educators. They prove silent conveniently so because it works for the campaign they drive on personality definition.
Those who are critical and vocal on the state of leadership often fail to admit their role nor do they prove eloquent and honest enough to state in categoric sense their personal role, involvement in the claimed “bad leadership” paradigm they advocate.
Our commentators also come from various defending dispositions. When De Klerk reprimands South- Africa and castigates the ANC leadership it is primarily in defence of his racist apartheid-led administration. It is really a regret of decision, less of deep concern for a nation but for a particular race groups benefit.
When Mbeki is talking of his concerns it is essentially from the bedrock of a one-eyed Johari window confirmed believe that his administration gave good leadership, that makes this leadership weak, rudderless etc, therefore worthy of critique if not flagrant disrespect, forgetting how sensitive his administration was to criticism from any corner.
If Ramphela proves scathing it is from her claimed rightful or wrong association of a Biko and black consciousness in romantic terms for a people desperate to hear the somewhat rhetoric of Black Consciousness that in many instances is not practical nor relevant in this context. It is equally to advocate she hold a moral meridian and high ground when she betrayed the quest for educational equality as head of UCT in failing to transform this colonial institution where Cecil John Rhodes looms larger than life
When Mashele week after treat his readers to his pet hate of a sitting president whom he blames for everything even the refusal for the 2012 Summer to settle. He proves less honest with his readers for he has failed to prove objective and has perhaps become the very bad leadership in analyst, intellectual or academic sense that he mellifluously questions in political leadership.
When the likes of Raymond Suttner, out of their yesteryear role regardless to how minuscule in this season speaks out against this political leadership it is in claim of him and others being the claimed consciousness of what a SACP leadership was and should be. Always feeling entitled to be the adjudicator of what is wrong and right and with less objectivity to critique their roles in that yesteryear context.
Those who bemoan good leadership argue the country is sliding and on a slippery slide, they could be right because there are reasons to argue we have lost areas and should guard against losing more, yet they never tell us what this sliding has as genesis. If they do attempt to earmark a genesis, it is usually and conveniently rooted in a ANC Polokwane Conference of 2007.
It is convenient for them to argue this as the premise because for them Polokwane 2007 marks an era and space in time when ‘good leadership’ was proverbially kicked in its teeth. How dishonest and economic in truth this contention?
Those who opine on the state of good leadership also encamp in what I choose to call the proverbial brook of wailing where they only see the decay of leadership as a jaundiced adjudicator’s right, and not from personal introspective mind.
Leadership these claim without ever saying it too loud is best understood or exemplified in university academic achievement of a degree. These forget that many of the crises of the world were brought about by very well-trained in Ivy League University sponsored graduates.
The debate on good leadership is such a necessary one but less from a deliberately constricted platform of political dimension as base.
The debate on good leadership remains a critical one if we seeking to eke out a collective morality of social cohesion, tolerance and sharing, less from throwing stones behind glass walls.
The discourse on leadership is an overdue debate not since Polokwane but before Mandela stepped into Tuynhuis, and the future of the masses became compromised at the altar of a reconciliation in which the poor remained poor and the rich further enriched, with a now blessed constitutional franchise right of equality when our society was never equal.
Good leadership the necessary quest is needed when our racially segregated communities numbed good leadership and those who were educated and blessed departed from these communities to be integrated into a culture of difference they longed and yearned for silently defined as better.
Good leadership is needed in Faith and church context where clergy became multi-millionaires in the name of their role of the struggle and now has thus made this wealth their personal family estate.
Good leadership is needed when aspiring preachers understand the success of pastoring as that, which is a Bentley, a house on a hill and name brand clothing, if not a celebrity pursuit.
Good leadership is needed when educators sent their children to better non- striking schools when the same informed by their organized labour (trade union) association can engage in labour strike action where other parents’ kids are affected.
Good leadership is needed when BEE as practiced has become the blueprint for business success and political association is the guiding light for your next million. When our current crop of Black billionaires are only billionaires because of their political connections less of any true entrepreneurial flair.
Good leadership is needed when the media in stubbornness of entrenched ideology and claimed fourth-estate right refuses to celebrate the achievements ANC led post-apartheid brought, for it has taken a position as opposition to the current democratic government as their mantra.
Good leadership is required when mining houses can extract the value of R100m of product per week, to export to the first world countries where the very mining houses are listed on stock exchanges. This in the face of struggling community reflecting abject poverty, un-tarred roads, lack of infrastructure and absent community development.
Good leadership is needed when some can adjudicate and prove scathing when they sit in blackness of identity, as board members of white capital as mere tokens, with good benefits of the very same mines that rob us from the very community enhancement so desperately needed.
Good leadership is needed when academics can use their academic cloaks and prowess to reveal their trapped ideological encampments. Even to defend disparities of ideologies refuting the right for contrary views to exist, less of progressive pursuit but as education mafia-dons.
Good leadership is needed when in a community like Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape, parents can prove this shortsighted to insist their children will not go to school until a mayor is recalled, a road is built, and or a ANC branch must sit.
Good leadership is desperately needed when young girls fall pregnant for receiving a social grant and spend the money on airtime and weaves (fake hairpieces).
Good leadership is needed when pastors can act as Demi-gods, chasing every skirt and Mammon in the name of pastoral authority. When South African pastors act subservient to overseas so-called covering bodies who is out to merely rape these African spiritual communities demanding upfront $20000 fees, limousine-driven transportation, 7 star hotel and exorbitant honoraria. What makes any one fall for this speaks of bad leadership.
Good leadership is necessary when fellow Top 6 and NEC leaders can judge the leadership and not own up to the collective reality of decision making of the ruling party. Bad leadership affords these to abdicate their conjoined role in what they regard as bad leadership exemplified in an individual whose position they aspire to.
Good leadership is required when opposition parties are allowed to narrowly understand and interpret their role and meaning of existence in myopic oppositional platform only. Therefore disowning a role wider and more constructive than this.
Good leadership is necessary for it should help a former president admit, that I was wrong to have afforded my view on HIV – AIDS to dictate the response of my administration when people were dying in droves.
Good leadership is needed when businesses and companies can play Russian- roulette with the lives of its workers, and prove heartless since all that matters is margins defined in profit.
Good leadership is required when a president can hear the cry of the people against an Nkandla in its current form, and opt to interfere politically to the benefit of the masses.
Good leadership is required when some from their high-glass-towers and sand castles can pelt rocks because they believe it their inalienable right to adjudicate but never to self-critique their role in this bad leadership.
So this disjointed critique and dishonest reflection of good leadership is perpetuated in our social and public discourse advanced by those who claim themselves analysts but never a part of the South Africa they assess conveniently in paradigms that suit their real agendas.
I have reason to question the authenticity of this their quest – good leadership – if it fails to accept collective blame for the decay, and commit to work for it without looking at the speck in others eyes, neglecting the plank in their own.