Count­ing the cost of our weak lead­er­ship

CityPress - - Busi­ness - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­

Be­lieve it or not, South Africa has be­come the land of plenty. You do not need sta­tis­tics to prove it; just look at all the obese peo­ple around you. No one ever got fat from star­va­tion.

Chil­dren used to hide their meat un­der a moun­tain of por­ridge and a touch of spinach, fear­ing that a hun­gry rel­a­tive could ar­rive in the night, and they would have to share. A plate with­out meat was not worth div­ing into.

No one can deny that life for black South Africans has im­proved ex­po­nen­tially com­pared with what it was in 1976.

The money that peo­ple re­ceive from govern­ment grants alone th­ese days amounts to far more than what many pro­fes­sion­als earned then.

If you were to ask for­mer ANC leader Al­bert Luthuli, au­thor of the fa­mous book Let My Peo­ple Go, about life in present-day South Africa, he might say: “We have reached the land of milk and honey.”

So why are places such as Mamelodi and At­teridgeville in Tsh­wane – with its city­wide Wi-Fi – and Vuwani and its sur­rounds in Lim­popo burn­ing?

The an­swer is sim­ple: you can­not hold the peo­ple to a higher moral stan­dard than their lead­ers.

Our politi­cians are rude to each other in Par­lia­ment. They have re­duced the House to a cir­cus of im­be­ciles who refuse to lis­ten to each other, and even have fist fights.

How do we then ex­pect the cit­i­zenry to be re­spect­ful and or­derly?

The lead­ers are loot­ing state re­sources with im­punity, so why would the po­lice worry about a young­ster who loots a six-pack of beer?

There’s a nag­ging ques­tion on many peo­ple’s lips: given that South Africa is a mul­ti­party democ­racy, and if the peo­ple are so up­set with the gov­ern­ing party, why don’t they vote for an al­ter­na­tive in­stead of ri­ot­ing?

Could it be that they have no faith in the al­ter­na­tives? Do they feel that op­po­si­tion par­ties have failed to rep­re­sent higher hopes? Have those par­ties’ rants about what is wrong with this coun­try brought us noth­ing but des­per­a­tion?

In case you haven’t no­ticed, it is not just the rul­ing party that is crash­ing and burn­ing in front of our eyes, but our very po­lit­i­cal sys­tem too.

We are suf­fer­ing from poor lead­er­ship and a lack of suc­ces­sion plan­ning.

For­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki felt that there was none wor­thy of lead­er­ship other than him, which is why he wanted the third term. And when he lost, the or­gan­i­sa­tion he loved so dearly and suf­fered for, lost with him.

Per­haps we need the hu­mil­ity to ac­cept that in the past 50 years or so, Mbeki was the ANC – the rest of the so-called col­lec­tive lead­er­ship were noth­ing but ex­tras in a movie he di­rected.

South Africa will sur­vive this. We are a re­silient na­tion.

But it re­mains a les­son for those start­ing a busi­ness. When mak­ing de­ci­sions, think of your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s long-term sur­vival, know­ing that the wealth of your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren de­pend on you.

You do not want your busi­ness to end up in flames be­cause there is a weak CEO at the helm. Choose your suc­ces­sor with­out passion or sym­pa­thy. Make a sound busi­ness choice, en­sur­ing it is some­one who dis­plays strong, in­de­pen­dent lead­er­ship. A weak and pli­able per­son may as well open the door to your ri­vals.

I am sure there are times when Mbeki re­grets giv­ing a life­line to the then in­signif­i­cant Ja­cob Zuma, who was an MEC in KwaZulu-Natal at the time. That life­line turned into a noose that stran­gled his pres­i­dency and split his or­gan­i­sa­tion.

You do not want to be left in the cold, watch­ing as oth­ers burp cham­pagne bub­bles that rep­re­sent the life­time of work you put in. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an

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