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Are we choosing the right leaders?

Leadership is a huge responsibility – with it comes great accountability. Events over the past few weeks indicate that we’re not getting it right, in many areas. We’re not getting it right when it comes to protecting women and girls, and men for that matter. The gruesome murder of Lerato Moloi, the rape and murder of three year old Courtney Pieters, the horrific gang rape of a pregnant woman on the way home from work at a nightclub, the senseless slaying of DJ Mandla Hlastshwayo and his friend Oupa Duma, the murder of Matlhomola Mosweu over a few sunflowers -these are only the reported crimes that we know about.

We need more than public condemnation, we need to know what our leaders are going to do, not in the future, but now, to make people safe – to stop femicide, murder, rape. We also need to know what action is going to be taken to ensure that police officers do their job – the initial response by Joburg Central Police station to refuse to raid a building where Kitso Mothibe was believed to be held, because it is a “no-go-zone” is totally unacceptable. Heads should roll. 

We also need our Ministers to be accountable, Enterprise Minister, Lynne Brown’s decision to re-instate Brian Molefe as CEO of Eskom is another shocker. People have stopped asking the question: “Brian, who?” The question they may be asking now, is: “Brian, why?” Fortunately, there is some blue sky – the ANC has called upon the government and parliament to deal with this untenable situation. 

South Africa is a wonderful country with enormous potential. We could become one of the greatest countries on the continent, perhaps even in the world. We have the best Constitution in the world, and great assets, our people. We also have some outstanding policies, but we need leaders who are accountable, and can implement policies and strategies that will make our people feel safe, create decent employment, and provide decent healthcare, education, housing and opportunities for all. However, to deliver in each of these areas, we need to ensure that we have the best leaders in place, leaders, who would shine on the world stage.

We need to ensure that leaders, whether in government, or SOEs have the skills, knowledge, competence, knowledge of good governance practices, ethics, and moral compass to ensure the highest levels of delivery. This philosophy should cascade through all levels of leadership. Why not create the national vision that every entity in the land aspires to become a high performance organisation?

South Africa has talent. We have visionaries, and great leaders, and great skills in many areas. The problem is we aren’t necessarily tapping into this talent. In an ideal world, when we appoint leaders, or even employees in government and SOEs we would search relentlessly for the best. We would have a very clear job description and key performance areas and related work experience. We would search far and wide for the right candidate. Selection would be based purely on the best fit. 

Imagine if we followed the same rigorous process that you would follow when appointing the CEO of a large organisation. You would hire the best person for the job. Past loyalty, political allegiance or nepotism would have no place. 

Deputy President, and Presidential would-be, Cyril Ramaphosa has promised that the ANC’s 54th National Conference, later this year, will craft a new path of political, organisational and moral renewal. This is much needed.

In crafting this new path, and in looking for great leaders, to take South Africa forward, we can learn from the wisdom of many great South Africans. I have listed some of my favourite quotes:

“Real leaders are not blinded by the trappings of power, but recognize their role as servant,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.” – First day of his release, Cape Town (11 February 1990), Nelson Mandela.

“The perks of a new government are not really appealing to me. Everybody would like to have a good job, a good salary…..but for me that is not the all of struggle. What is important is the continuation of the struggle… the real problems of the country are not whether one is in Cabinet …but what we do for social upliftment of the working masses of our country,” Chris Hani

“Through life I have learned that the most important critic whose judgement of my actions matters is my conscience,” Thuli Madonsela.

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