Apr 20, 2012
SA’s leadership crisis reaches beyond the political realmBack
Mangaung|Nedbank|South Africa|Jacob Zuma|Julius Malema|Richard Mdluli
© Reuse this
Is the manner in which the ANC is responding to the Malema challenge going to divide the ruling party more than it does the ANCYL, or is the end nigh for Malema and other leaders of the Youth League? Anyone who has definitive answers to these questions is either a liar or lacks a proper understanding of the fluidity and, therefore, the complexity of the balance of forces, support and scandals in the ruling party. What we must bear in mind is that the ANC leadership is responding to a range of challenges that are not limited to the Youth League and Malema challenge. The ANC is faced with the task of managing a range of negative perceptions about its capacity to lead.
First, there are perceptions that the Malema matter has caused divisions in the party and that these divisions extend to the top leadership structures of the party. Attached to this is the perception that some leaders of the party are behind Malema and, therefore, have aligned themselves with forces within the ANC and the ruling alliance that want to unseat President Jacob Zuma at the Mangaung conference of the ANC.
Second, the decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that the Democratic Alliance does have locus standi in relation to whether the April 2009 decision of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw charges of corruption against Zuma can be reviewed. In short, we cannot rule out the possibility that, if Zuma is re-elected in Mangaung, at some point after his re-election, the country might face a constitutional crisis if the Constitutional Court finds that the NPA deision was indeed unlawful.
Third, suspicions that some decisions, such as the decision to reinstate police intelligence chief Richard Mdluli, are part of the President’s strategy of self- preservation.
Fourth, some are of the view that the ANC is becoming a threat to our constitutional democracy. The concern arises from decisions by the party and government to review the judgments of the Constitutional Court and the SCA. The suspicion is that the ANC seeks to castrate the judiciary.
Further, there is a growing chorus of voices in civil society and big business that are critical of what is seen as a lack of leadership in the ANC and government.
In fact, in an unusual move, Reuel Khoza, in his capacity as Nedbank group chair- person, wrote at the end of March: “South Africa is widely recognised for its liberal and enlightened Constitution, yet we observe the emergence of a strange breed of leaders who are determined to undermine the rule of law and override the Constitution.” Before I continue, two questions arise: Are the words ‘liberal’ and ‘enlightened’ not value laden? When did this ‘strange breed of leaders’ emerge? In other words, is Khoza not arguing from a particular ideological and political vantage point, and are his views broadly representative of business sentiment on national issues and lack of leadership?
Unfortunately, the ANC, in its response, betrayed a lack of both thought and leader- ship. The secretary-general of the ruling party, Gwede Mantashe, argued: “Reuel Khoza must sell Nedbank and not venture into something he doen’t know.” In a radio interview, Mantashe insisted that Khoza was blaming his lack of success as a business leader on others.
Lamentations of lack of leadership by business leaders tend to invoke mixed feelings in me. I have no doubt that South Africa is poorly led. This is not to suggest that the lack of leadership betrays a lack of leaders. All I am saying is that we seem to have serious talent when it comes to choosing the wrong people as leaders. There is, as a result, a disconnect between our national strategic goals and the individuals we deploy as leaders in key areas of national life.
That said, statements about lack of leadership sometimes bemoan the absence of a particular kind of leadership, that is, leaders who fail to promote our narrow interests. The challenge of leadership in South Africa is for leaders to be able to transcend the narrow interests of key social partners, or anatagonists, such as big business and big labour. My contention, therefore, is that our crisis of leadership has a reach wider than the realm of politics.
I have deliberately said very little about what is likely to happen to the political fortunes of Zuma and Malema. The challenges of leadership, poverty, unemployment, the possibility of class and racial cleavages and that of deepening the democratic experience of citizens call for effective leadership across the board.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Video News
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
This Week's Magazine
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is inviting expressions of interest from eligible firms for the supply and install automatic fire suppression systems in the cable tunnels at its Nkula B and Tedzani power stations, on the Shire river. Escom will...
Lubricant company Castrol will provide lubricants, brake and hydraulic fluids for use in the Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC). The 1 600 km/h car, which will attempt to break the land-speed record in 2015 through to 2016, is being constructed in Bristol, in the UK.
State-owned electricity producer Eskom and government are assessing ways to secure the financial resources necessary to enable the utility to resume power-saving schemes, as well as to contract with those municipalities and independent power producers (IPPs) able to...
Diversified industrial engineering group PSV’s subsidiary African Cryogenics is gearing up to increase its operating capacity through an investment into a 7 000 m2 manufacturing facility, which is under construction and expected to be completed at the end of this...
Freight and logistics service provider Grindrod has a R10-billion project pipeline planned for sub-Saharan Africa, says Grindrod CEO Alan Olivier. He says the capital expenditure for some of these projects has already been approved by the Grindrod board –...