Choose leaders well

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By CHRIS MBEKELA

Good leadership and sound governance are intertwined, both contributing to the provision of services in a sustainable manner.

The leadership of the governing party is centrestage in any country. In a formal democratic space, individuals are elevated to leadership positions through structured democratic processes.

The privilege to govern is located within the context of the Constitution, which is designed to curb the abuse of power and authority by the state apparatus in particular. Checks and balances are in place against any attempt to govern outside the legislative framework.

This means leaders must be conversant with the legislative terms of their mandate.

Serious attempts by the President to subvert South Africa’s Constitution were stymied by the judiciary, yet astoundingly, the President was left untouched by the governing party.

Imagine, what the man might have done in the absence of constitutional democracy. Adversaries of this framework perceive the Constitution as a hindrance to service delivery.

Within ANC circles, there is a view that favours Parliamentary democracy; however, it’s my view that this could be vulnerable to impunity under the pretext of executing the mandate in line with majoritarian rule.

ANC veterans and others decried the President’s attempts to squeeze the Constitution, but their concerns as usual fell on deaf ears. The not-so-young leading the ANC Youth League (Collen Maine) came out guns blazing, rebuking the veterans. A deafening silence on the part of the mother body leadership left many wondering.

A loud, collective chorus continued defending the president using an ageing slogan: “When the President is under attack, the ANC is under attack – kubo!” The latter could be loosely translated, “deal with them” and refers to those with critical, inquiring minds.

Zuma is a microcosm of the organisation’s current culture and the leadership should take collective responsibility for deviating from its vision, mission and strategic objectives. The Constitutional dispensation is a product of hard-won struggles.

OR Tambo’s ideas relating to constitutionalism are embraced in the our Constitution. A violation of the Constitution by the president of the ANC is the antithesis of the goal for which our forebears sacrificed, peopleship included.

At present, where does the movement’s vision and mission lie? Is branch leadership, sub-regional leadership, regional leadership and provincial leadership and national leadership an embodiment of the ANC’s strategic objectives?

Information in the public domain suggests otherwise.

Do the current structures of the movement have the ability to deliver thoughtful, ethical, and transformational leadership at the elective conference to be held in December 2017?

Current trends point in another direction. Let’s hope divine intervention comes in to turn the tide in favour of the voice of reason.

These questions are informed by prevailing circumstances. Almost all the structures of the ANC have aligned themselves with one of two major factional blocs: C17 (Ramaphosa) and NDZ (Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma).

Slates are posted throughout the length and the breadth of the country. Praise singers devoid of political substance have rolled up their sleeves fueling schism in the name of campaigning for good leadership. Cadres Forums are used by individuals behind factional blocs as platforms to profile their preferred candidates.

To have leadership preference based on a good cause is one’s right. To have it based on conspiracy theory in order to conceal skeletons in the closest could be another thing.

Leadership campaigns are now in full swing, tensions are running high and levels of mistrust have reached alarming proportions as a result of subtle double parking.

South Africa is the most unequal country in the world, according to both the Gini index and Palma ratio, and is characterised by high levels of poverty and unemployment. Within certain municipalities’ jurisdictions, the road infrastructure is collapsing, potholes have knock-on effects on motorists, public transport (taxis, buses etc) and business distribution channels; dilapidated public property is not being looked after; dilapidated sewage infrastructure is a health hazard; the refuse collection service leaves much to be desired, the frequency of water and electricity outages is disturbing and social infrastructure is lacking. Sustainable plans are not in place to curb the deteriorating situation.

Many municipalities, particularly in the Eastern Cape, are in a state of paralysis both politically and administratively. This is as a result of external political interference informed by financial interests and has compromised institutional governance and the moral authority of those entities.

The appointment of officials lacking the necessary job requisites and the irrational deployment of public representatives is a result of this interference.

These entities are on the edge of bankruptcy, a state of affairs making it difficult for them to meet their constitutional obligations.

Political and socio-economic strife of this nature have the potential to ignite civil unrest.

Most municipalities in the Eastern Cape depend on government grants as a result of recurring misdemeanours. Government grants ring-fenced for local infrastructural development and other capital requirements are irregularly diverted to meet operational costs such as salaries and wages.

Due to large-scale misdemeanours, the national government struggles to meet its national developmental mandate. It is indebted to global financial institutions due to over-borrowing. This has sky rocketed the budget deficit, because the government services the debt in foreign currency and the foreign rate exchange trajectory inflates it. This all takes place within the junk status framework.

What are the implicationsf?

As we are grappling with an undesirable situation, bags of money are being exchanged, feeding factional battles for the top job. Presidential hopefuls should not be seen being economical with the truth, condemning factional politics in public: huge sums of money are being pumped into factional structures and their subsidiary platforms.

Branches have been made dormant deliberately to give factional platforms space to operate. After the national policy conference in June, factionally driven branches will be re-activated for leadership nominations.

By then, dwindling service delivery will have been placed on ice. Isolated pockets of service delivery projects can be launched in order to profile contenders for the coveted position. The president’s focus is on mega projects that will draw huge attention.

Should other credible incumbents decide to enter the leadership succession fray, this could unsettle the main contenders. Untainted individuals might throw their hats into the ring for the top position. The intensification of the battle for leadership could reveal unpalatable stories about those eyeing the lucrative position. The stakes are high.

Two choices are open, to elevate to positions of authority individuals who lack in-depth understanding of the economic setup. Or to elect individuals with political and intellectual acumen, with the ability to take the country forward.

Should the former prevail, factionalism in the ANC will have overridden leadership pre-requisites – an indication that the ANC may lose power in the next national elections.

We need leadership with the ability to lead this nation, still in its formative stages, to prosperity.

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