By Motsumi Maubane

The perception that the Gupta family has a hold on President Jacob Zuma, in my mind, constitutes high treason and a serious threat to our national security for this would compromise our constitutional democracy and sovereignty of our South African state.

Essentially it would mean the family has usurped executive authority from elected leaders and that they are leading the country. Surely it is not in the national interest that a family could hold so much power and influence when millions of South Africans are poor and unemployed.

The Guptas compromised our national security and sovereignty when they used the Waterkloof air force base to land a private plane filled with guests for their niece’s wedding. Did they apologise to South Africans or face any consequences for subjecting us to collective shame?

Allow me to join millions of South Africans in commending the honourable deputy minister of finance, Mcebisi Jonas, and former ANC MP and chair of the ANC Caucus in Parliament Vytjie Mentor for the courageous leadership they’ve shown on this matter. I am carefully saying leadership because at the heart of this matter is the absence and bankruptcy of leadership’s DNA.

President Zuma has generally not provided leadership and guidance on the matter. It is my humble submission that the confirmation by Jonas and Mentor that the Guptas offered them Cabinet positions while the president sat in the room next door at the Gupta compound provides us with an opportunity to look critically at the question of leadership selection.

President Zuma has consistently eroded the sterner brick that the ANC cadres and leaders are made of. ANC leaders were internationally renowned for being the moral compass of society. Their private ideals and ambitions were superseded by those of the broader public and their task was to unite society at all costs.

Instead of enriching themselves, they strove to create a better life and prosperity for all South Africans. Instead of building compounds for themselves, they built houses for the poor and needy. Jonas and Mentor have taken responsibility and remain accountable to the public.

Appointing very junior leaders to serious positions in Cabinet such as Faith Muthambi in communications, Des van Rooyen in finance, Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane in minerals and Tina Joemat-Pettersson in energy is surely not in the nation’s interest.

Only President Zuma will insist that Van Rooyen is the most qualified for the finance minister position. Leaders must possess the necessary skills, competence and experience to provide quality leadership to South Africans, like Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and those who came before.

The country needs a visionary leader who can inspire the nation and guide us towards economic prosperity for all. South Africans must ensure that the leaders we select are above reproach for if we ignore this we run the risk of lowering the bar.

The management of executive authority is a very complex exercise and in this regard President Zuma has failed dismally.

The right thing for the president to do is to listen to his revolutionary political conscience if there is any left in him and simply resign to save brand South Africa from the damage he has caused and further risk of embarrassment.

Motsumi Maubane is a development local government practitioner from Mmametlhake in Mpumalanga.


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