Oliver Tambo said “The fight for freedom must go on until it is won; until our country is free and happy and peaceful as part of the community of man, we cannot rest”.

Tambo was right. The fight in South Africa was for freedom and for happiness and peace. Since he said those words we have made progress and are in many ways free. But our freedom is being stolen by our lethargy in addressing the backlog of social justice issues that mark our society while we become distracted by a different fight – a fight for money and power and greedy exploitation – while South Africans languish in despair.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress must lead now before it is too late.

This week we are seeing headlines about our rape and murder epidemic being brushed aside to make room for headlines about factional proxy battles between the security apparatus and the state institutions responsible for our fiscal wellbeing. Political handlers are allegedly sending their henchmen to assault their political opponents, who also happen to be their team members in Cabinet. This is a pathetic display of gangsterism masquerading as leadership.

Seriously – the NEC of the ANC is responsible for the mess they have allowed the party to turn into and the way in which that mess has spilled out onto the public square and now captured our state.

This so-called leadership sat quietly and over-confidently while the likes of Bheki Cele were elevated, celebrated and then rejected, while Malusi Gigaba smothered our tourism industry, Tina Joemat-Pettersson married us off to the Russians at the cost of future generations and Blade Nzimande pontificated as campuses burned.

President Jacob Zuma’s administration has been both harmful and belligerent. South Africa is not a chieftaincy Mr President, it is a complex nation and you are its highest servant. Baleka Mbete has played along as executive producer of a weekly political soapy in Parliament. Parliament is not a schoolyard Madame Speaker, it is a clearing house for the will of the people, not the whims of the powerful.

Jacob Zuma (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
Jacob Zuma (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Jesse Duarte has sung the praises of a faltering administration, wilfully blind to its errors. Changing finance ministers is not musical chairs, it is a strategic question of national importance.

Where are the voices of leaders like Obed Bapela, Ruth Bhengu, Lynne Brown, Rosemary Capa-Langa and Enoch Godongwana?

Where are the principles of Derek Hanekom, Dikeledi Magadzi, Tito Mboweni, Joel Netshitenzhe and Naledi Pandor?

Where is Jeff Radebe, Lindiwe Sisulu, Sue van der Merwe, David Makhura?

Where are the Walter Sisulus and the Oliver Tambos and the Nelson Mandelas of 2016?

Let us remind ourselves that there are 54 million South African’s depending on our leadership.

That there are angry young men and woman in townships across this country watching our choices. They are looking to see to what extent we are willing to break down the pillars that uphold our peace before coming to our senses. This will be the example they follow when they come to tell us how angry and disappointed they are that we did not heal their country and help them work towards their dreams.

As I worry about the leadership vacuum in this country and listen to the deafening echo from the NEC, I wonder Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Gwede Mantashe, Mr Zweli Mkhize, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, whether you know that the burden of leadership is at your feet?

Please lead, before it is too late.


Marius Oosthuizen

Marius Oosthuizen

Marius Oosthuizen is a faculty member and researcher at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He teaches leadership, strategy and ethics, and heads up the Future of Business in SA Project. He is passionate...

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