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Friends & friction: Our young leaders must rise to the fore

Feb 19 2017 08:17
Muzi Kuzwayo

It doesn’t matter whether you are on the left or right of the political spectrum, the world is experiencing a severe drought of leadership.

The right has fallen over the edge of fascism, and the left has forgotten its reason for existence.

It is sad that our officials are more concerned with government tenders and personal status ahead of creating a utopia that the world will envy – where poverty and ignorance are a thing of the past.

The stock markets are growing because of financial wizardry rather than investment and the building of real businesses.

Managers are becoming phenomenally wealthy, while workers become poorer. Managers blame government, and vice versa. It is a downward spiral.

President Jacob Zuma has promised a radical transformation of the economy, but when that statement is scrutinised, it means absolutely nothing.

It is a “get out of jail free” card with no targets or parameters by which progress can be measured.

It is a noise that is deliberately created to distract everyone.

When I hear someone say the words ‘white monopoly capital’, I ask: “Really? Have you not advanced beyond the underground workshops that the Azanian People’s Organisation used to hold in the early 1980s? Clearly, you have no political education.”

The phrase “white monopoly capital” was unwelcome in the Freedom Charter-aligned movement because it ran the risk of alienating white support, and was seen as anti-nonracist.

It is that kind of thinking that made it easy for the ANC to sign the sunset clauses during the negotiations.

You can choose to be cynical about it, or you can choose to look beyond the propaganda and recognise that this country has more than doubled the black middle class and has somewhat alleviated poverty through social grants since apartheid.

Indeed, there are many problems, such as a failing health system and ballooning corruption, but those are only symptoms. Our real problem is lack of leadership.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are like vicious-looking dogs in Parliament – they have bark but no vision. A dog can bark to alert you when the criminals are around, but it cannot advise you on how to improve your security system.

The DA member and mayor of Joburg, Herman Mashaba, has shown that he is a stereotypical South African politician. After just a few months in the job, he called for a fourth investigation into the CEO of City Power, Sicelo Xulu.

When his DA colleague, Anthony Still, differed with him on the grounds that three other investigations had cleared the CEO, Still was fired.

Leaders do not make things happen by themselves, they inspire their followers. Our struggle promised a new dawn based on non-racialism, which our leaders have sadly deferred.

If we want to succeed in every way – whether socially or economically – we have to hold fast to our dream.

In the beautiful words of black activist and poet Langston Hughes: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

The hostile internecine rhetoric will only help to break the wings of this nation, and it must stop.

The adults in Parliament should act as such, and work on changing themselves and the country for the better.

Imagine history students learning about EFF leader Julius Malema 100 years from now.

“Who was he?” the professor will ask.

A bright student will raise his hand and reply: “He was the leader who cried that the security in Parliament squeezed his balls.”

What a waste of youth.

Young leaders must deliver a new vision that will take South Africa and the rest of the continent forwards if they want to be remembered in the annals of history.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency.

muzi kuzwayo  |  leadership
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