Strong leadership!! That’s what SA needs, now
It’s only the beginning of the road to elections 2009, but the choice of which leaders and which political party to represent us in the following 5 years is of critical importance. True leaders in SA are hard to find, almost completely non-existent. We have plenty of politicians, good politicians. Yes, people who know how to play a political game, but true leaders, NO WAY.
The past convention just proved this once again. The old story rings true; criticising your political opponents followed by vague promises of protection of the constitution and human rights etc, supported by a few “AMANDLA” and “VIVA” cries to lift the spirits. For the message itself, fails to impress. Similar to the olden days where the NP and CP political gatherings were marked by cries of “HOOR, HOOR” should you agree, or “SKANDE, SKANDE” should your political opponent come under fire from the speaker. But, inspiration, unity and the creation of trust are a far cry. Maybe we have simply got used to being satisfied with too little. I would love to get excited, as on Rapport wrote on its front page: “HIER KOM ‘N DING”. But no luck, the same old story again, nothing new…
I’m looking for something with an “Obama element”; a man just elected as the next President of the USA, which has only a 12% African-American population. Why can’t our leaders pick a few ideas from his recipe book for elections 2009? It does not matter whether or not you are an Obama supporter: The man can inspire! A Shilowa or a Lekota simply does not have it. They both struggle to hide their bitterness toward their previous political home. I was hoping that a few potential leaders and speakers would appear who will make a difference and give us hope for elections 2009. (I think Hennie Smit – Bertie from Egoli – who also attended the convention out of curiosity, would have been a much better and more inspirational speaker than any of the ANC break-aways). The hope, however still exists that a few strong leaders will appear from their midst.
It is true that we need a new group who will halt the unhealthy overpowering force of the ANC in the 2009 elections, but at the end all succeed or fail at leadership. For that reason, this new group will have to search for those within who can lead, unite and inspire.
Leaders must command respect and values that a proud nation would want to identify with. Mr Zuma and his leaders are not such leaders, and for that matter, a split in the ANC is very welcome. This new era of a divided ANC will however require strong leadership and management. Our democracy is a young one, and it is clear that within the Zuma faction, not all understand what that means, and that it is in fact acceptable to differ. We are entering a very delicate stage in time, and should this not be managed correctly, the elections could result into conflict and violence. Wisdom will be needed though. Leaders who are able to manage these differences, are required for the democracy to continue. The attitude that many of our people have, i.e. “Let factions in the ANC destroy one another”, is a reckless attitude. The ANC remains the government of South Africa, and what happens in the ANC has a direct impact on the whole of South Africa. It is important that economic stability remains – especially now with the world economic crisis, where South Africa, even with political stability, is seen as a high-risk market.
The DA does not boost plenty of strong leaders either, but I must admit that Helen Zille was the exception at the convention. Firstly, she attended it without reservations, a sign of someone that does not feel threatened. (In addition, credit to the break-aways that invited other political parties). She seized this opportunity and instilled so much trust in a group that would not support her traditionally. Helen Zille became one with them and created the impression that she understood them. She seemed genuine and not just playing politics. Whether she will succeed in attracting disgruntled ANC members in the 2009 elections is still doubtful, or maybe it is still a little early to say. However, other political parties should be worried at Zille’s evident influence. Maybe it’s time for her to give up the position of Mayor of Cape Town, go to Parliament and be seen as a national leader and not one of a region or a city. If there is not one capable person to fill her position, then the DA is just as poor on leaders.
One example of poor decision-making is that of the Freedom Front Plus. The decision not to attend the convention will probably be excused by a few thumb-sucked strategic reasons. The fact remains; they missed a golden opportunity. A platform was created to send their message (direct TV coverage, with local and international media), but they say: “No thank you”. How can people hear your message and judge if you aren’t even there? How small and irrelevant of a party do you want to become by distancing yourself from reality? I can’t think that Pieter Mulder would support such a decision. I think he would have done very well at the convention. It’s a pity, because such a chance does not come often.
But, the convention was an ideal kick-off to the 2009 elections. Such variety of people coming together gives me hope. Interesting times lie ahead. South Africa is most definitely not a boring place.
Barend La Grange Elections 2009