Sound leadership at all levels is what SA needs now 

South Africa is a high potential country with an abundance of neglected human talent and natural resources. This has caused many people to demand it for themselves and that it be theirs exclusively. 

After the May 26, 1948, [apartheid] general elections Daniel Malan stated: “Today South Africa belongs to us once more. South Africa is our own for the first time since [the Union], and may God grant that it will always remain our own.” 

When Malan said that South Africa “belonged” to the Afrikaners he did not have the white-black struggle in mind, but rather the rivalry between the Afrikaner and the English community. 

Before 1948, and going back about 230 years, the British sought to make South Africa a proper British colony and to have at their disposal labour and resources of Africans, Asians and Europeans, including the so-called white Afrikaners.  

The white Afrikaners also thought they could be top dogs and capture the British, Asians, and all Africans for themselves for exploitation and domination. 

The white Afrikaner to this day still wants to demonstrate supremacy. However, this nationalism has never been exclusively about self-improvement. It has been rooted and grounded in hostility towards other cultural groups. 

Today new groups in South Africa have developed. They all recognise inequality, poverty, and unemployment have worsened over the past 30 years. 

This deprivation has ravaged the abaNtu and the so-called coloured communities deeper than any other ethnic or cultural group. This, according to research, has manifested in alcoholism, fatherlessness and widespread depravity including crime, violence, rape, illegal mining, infrastructure vandalism and low income. 

It is in the circumstance of poverty, as it was with the “poor white problem” that activated Malan, Barry Hertzog, and Hendrik Verwoerd, that today we see political parties fracturing along ethnic and cultural lines. 

The Patriotic Alliance and Good party in the so-called coloured communities; Freedom Front Plus in the Afrikaans communities with a predominantly pro-white flavour; MK Party with a new brand of African nationalism, which includes the re-introduction of -African law and indigenous chiefs and kings. 

There is also a reorganisation along ideological lines. The EFF presents a Marxist–Leninist perspective and others such as UDM and Rise Mzansi present a social democratic view and neo-liberal perspectives coming from the DA and Action SA, among others. 

In all of this, there remains one source and only one source of a viable solution to the quagmire we face. The only solution should be the election and appointment of high calibre leadership in our political parties.  

This includes provincial and national parliaments, the cabinet and the entire public service. 

All improvements in human affairs come from leadership[1]. A humble leadership, that has all-consuming ambitions for SA and South Africans of all cultures and languages. 

We need a leadership made up of workhorses, driven by high standards and a robust work ethic that produces results. 

Leadership research tells us that a good vision, strategy, and plan come from a good team. 

A good team is made up of every talent across generations that can sustain high performance and standards for the next 60 years or so. That means the leadership team has the cream of the crop of high performers some in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, ready to deliver long-term top quality results. 

Top quality leaders do not return from retirement. This is because they have created a pipeline of talent to improve their performance and standards. 

Our problem in this country is not the constitution or our ethnic diversity or communism or Judaism or Catholicism. The problem is that since 1990 we have allowed people who are not leaders – people who are driven by greed and material interests – to occupy offices that should occupied by the best leaders we have. 

In some cases, we have had people in the presidency who are not leaders, and we must not repeat this. There is no sub-standard person who can produce a high-quality vision, strategy, and plan, for a village, a town, a province, let alone a nation, research tells us. 

It is scientifically incorrect to say the country has good plans but poor implementation.  

We just have poor leadership across the board, and nothing will improve if we do not remove all municipal councillors, provincial and national members of parliament and cabinet, and all civil servants who are sub-standard and replace them with A-level performers. 

That is what we need after the elections. 

  • Swana is a political analyst, an academic, and a member of the 70s Group

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