South Africa, a country at crossroads needs new leadership fit for purpose 

The tenure of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa and the ANC has exposed and laid bare the hidden dominant culture and values of South Africans. The culture and values continue to destroy the country, its economy and lives.  

How can one understand and judge society, citizens and public figures? What could better do so? What are the guiding principles, norms and standards in our homes, community, government and business? I wonder. 

Crime syndicates and gangs, groups of violent thieves and ruffians prosper led by their own kind. Would villains govern a country with integrity? Our  
democracy was birthed following violent conflict and bloodshed. The outcome was a negotiated constitution. 

What followed? South Africans duped and often like to follow leaders who display inefficiencies and crude mannerisms.  

Ideological and political party affiliations are behind that. Surely these trends concealed the character of leaders. Political, economic, and religious masks are useful tools for fooling some people. History is also abused by political thugs to sow racial and class divisions.  

They gain undeserved public acclaim and followers at the expense of society. We are caught in a vicious cycle. We must break this for a virtuous cycle. Failure makes us losers in all respects.  

Needed are leaders who reflect quintessential and tested values and norms of our society. The liberation movement was based on fundamental values of ubuntu or vumunhu, shared by South Africans.  

South Africa is a society rich with diverse religious faiths and congregations. United and committed we shall prosper. Citizens should defend and promote the country’s basic and fundamental values. Popular leaders encouraged by followers, however, sustain ignorance, oppression, exploitation, and division as well as political and economic opportunism and racism. 

Thirty years following post-apartheid ANC rule have passed. What does the country’s civil society, including the religious, business and community sectors, expect from government?  

My faith in the efficacy of the trade union movement, as change agents, needs to be restored. How could we all ensure that 2024 is our 1994? Public morality, ethical conduct, and values must be shown in action and deeds, especially in the face of multiple popcorn electoral choices. Vote for meaningful change. That is for the present and the future of our families and children. Good citizens should make wise and broadly beneficial choices.  

A vote is a choice made in the interest of the living as well as those that are still to be born. Food parcels, political t-shirts, free rides to nowhere, death, poverty, destitution, and a failed developmental state? Sell your birthright for food, is that your democratic right?  

Electing a citizens-centered government and good all-of-society governance are very serious matters. Life and death. It guarantees family and community livelihoods, access to government services as well as available fair economic and social opportunities for all.  

South Africa was blessed to have had the likes of Shaka, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe, Walter Sisulu, Chris Hani, and others. They contributed and gave what was required and demanded for South Africa/Azania. We owe them a debt. Who still has faith in liberation-struggle messiahs?  

The fingered in the Zondo commission and the host of the accused in government continued to lead. Leaders worth their salt promptly sign and quit whenever tarnished by scandals. Abuse of the justice system is a vile exercise. It undermines accountability, public morality, and ethics. Where are the upright and accountable? We are in a nation building time, I hope. South Africa incorporated must fire and stop ineffective politicians. They all suffer from incurable chronic sickness of entitlement. We derive no value from their excuses for failure or irresponsibility. The entrenched have failed the beloved country for too long and wasted thirty years with no consequences. 

Nation building cannot happen without leaders that are transformed and fit for the purpose. That should be the supreme national imperative, mandate, and the new social compact. It is correct to evaluate and assess public representatives and servants? Days of zombie voting and blind loyalties must end. Show your right to freedom of choice.  

Failure in office and lapse in public morality must not be rewarded. We own the public purse to serve the country. Public money is for the progressive provision of public safety and security, health, roads and railways, transport, education, water, social protection and grants, infrastructure, and the realization of all other human rights as per The Constitution. 

  • Mkhabela is a professional community organiser

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