Please grow up and get to work

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - BY TANDISIZWE MAHLUTSHANA tan­di­s­izwem@fin­

South Africa’s Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers ( EFF) cel­e­brated its first an­niver­sary last week­end and t he part y ’s mem­bers across the coun­try painted the town red, as it were.

It’s not only the party’s first year that is wor­thy of fes­tiv­i­ties for the EFFers. The inf lu­ence it has gar­nered since its for­ma­tion is im­pres­sive, yet of­ten scoffed at, and not only by the gen­eral pub­lic but also by the EFF it­self, in­clud­ing its lead­er­ship.


One thing that many (es­pe­cially young lead­ers) seem to over­look and un­der­es­ti­mate is how im­pres­sion­able our youth is. The same goes for oth­ers that are marginalised and those with­out much hope. Lead­ers must un­der­stand, how­ever, that hav­ing the power to inf lu­ence these con­stituen­cies comes with im­mense re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that con­sti­tu­tional bound­aries are not tam­pered with in any way and to en­sure that mem­bers and

fol­low­ers un­der­stand and re­spect this. CASE IN POINT: dam­ag­ing prop­erty is a se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fence in SA. It does not mat­ter how much any­one may feel he or she has been dis­crim­i­nated against, there is no jus­tif ica­tion for com­mit­ting a crime. Re­spect for the Con­sti­tu­tion as the foun­da­tion of all our laws is not ne­go­tiable and for any leader this is Pol­i­tics 101.

In The 21 Ir­refutable Laws of Lead­er­ship, lead­er­ship au­thor and speaker John Maxwell writes: “True lead­er­ship can­not be awarded, ap­pointed or as­signed. It comes only from inf lu­ence, and that can’t be man­dated. It must be earned. The only thing a ti­tle can buy is a lit­tle time – ei­ther to in­crease your level of inf lu­ence with oth­ers or to erase it.”

Malema must a l ways be con­scious of this fact. While he may not al­ways be ex­plic­itly telling his fol low­ers to act i r re­spon­si­bly, t he un­der­ly­ing mes­sage is of­ten open to in­ter pre­ta­tion and his fol­low­ers will take it as a man­date. Re­mem­ber what his ‘Kill the boer’ chant cre­ated in the coun­try.

It is not only Malema who needs to re­mem­ber what it takes to be a leader. The rul­ing ANC needs to set an ex­am­ple in terms of po­lit­i­cal tol­er­ance and ma­tu­rity; by putting se­man­tics aside and fo­cus­ing on the rea­son why it is in govern­ment.

The red over­alls that EFF mem­bers choose to wear on oc­ca­sion are a non-is­sue. The EFF knows that. But the ANC ap­pears to be do­ing a lot of un­nec­es­sary pub­lic re­la­tions work against these over­alls, which ben­e­fits no-one ex­cept per­haps the EFF it­self. In fact, the ANC in gen­eral cre­ates more pub­lic­ity for the EFF than it does for it­self.

If the ANC had sim­ply ac­cepted the over­alls as part of the iden­tity the EFF had cho­sen for its cause – which by the way con­sti­tutes no breach of any con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion – and in­stead of en­gag­ing in il­log­i­cal bick­er­ing and just got on with its job, SA would be mov­ing, and in the right di­rec­tion, by work­ing for the peo­ple and putting po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences aside.

Julius Malema

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