Leadership – Or Lack Thereof

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity – Martin Luther King
From seemingly unending strikes to bloated political rhetoric, the front pages of our newspapers seem to be having a field day, especially with the municipal elections coming up. All political parties are roaming the country promising change to the wait municipalities are run if they get the vote. Yet the perception remains that every time the elections are over, the ever present politicians disappear into the tower of bureaucracy until the next election run.  

How does the mind of an elected official work though? It puzzles me because they seem to be  accountable to no one when it comes to spending and anyone caught out is given a slap on the  wrist and a stern warning, which usually amounts to nothing. An example is the minister of  Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka, who is busy building himself  what can be described as a mansion in his rural village, where poverty is rife and people barely  get by. Yet he flaunts the excess that the taxpayer’s money can get him, ignoring the plight of  the people he plans to live amongst. Another example is that of the mayor of Ficksburg, Mr. Mbothoma Maduna, who denied that there is a water crisis in the municipality and instead reached into his office fridge, took out a bottle of valpré and used it as proof that there is water in Ficksburg.

These men are just the latest example of how out of touch some leaders are with the needs of their communities. If they knew what was happening around them, they would not have acted the way they did, knowing to put the people’s needs before their own. How will they be able to face their municipalities without shame and ask them to vote them back into power? Or have they passed the shame barrier?

In the face of these things, we should not be surprised when people riot and demand changes in leadership, especially because the service delivery they were promised never took place. And some political parties use such upheavals to blame their opponents for the unrest, yet when they happen in their own municipalities, they do not step up and take responsibility for the situation – there is always a scapegoat. What people do not seem to realise, especially those in the ruling party, is that the generation of the struggle veterans will pass and the struggle rhetoric will run out of fuel. What will they use to ask people to vote for them I wonder, since the asking people to vote on struggle credentials will no longer be such a strong rallying cry? The very loyalty that they take for granted from their members will crumble around them, leaving them without a leg to stand on. Being in leadership does not mean you will never be removed, yet people act like they will always be in positions of influence. Instead of mentoring the next generation on how to govern and conduct themselves in the public eye, we have leaders who do not seem to care about what they do, only about what they need to say to stay in power. One day society will have forgotten those who plundered it for their own gain, in their names will conjure up shame instead of celebration. This will be a far cry from the pride one feels when thinking about men such as Robert Sobukwe, Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela. Men who truly knew how to serve and sacrifice for their people – unlike the people who call themselves leaders today. It is still a long walk to freedom for the rest of us.

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