THE GLOBAL POLITICAL arena has always been dominated by elders. The consensus seems to be that with age comes the wisdom that equips you to better navigate different scenarios in life. However, there seems to be great difficulty, particularly among older men, in knowing when to relinquish the seat of power. We’ve seen this with Robert Mugabe, who’s been president of Zimbabwe for 28 years, as well as José Eduardo dos Santos, president of Angola since 1979.
Some might argue that young people shouldn’t be leading, but rather learning and perfecting the skills needed to take up such positions at a later stage. But I think leadership is a combination of learning through being taught and something that is inherent in a person. There are born leaders who have those skills at their disposal from the time they are very young. And, as history has shown us, real social change often comes through the efforts of the youth. From our own Soweto uprisings in 1976 to the election of Barack Obama as US president, it was the voices of the youth that brought about political change.
That is why it is so exciting to witness the rise of young leaders here at home. While you may not always like them, it is important that we are seeing people like Julius Malema and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of the EFF and Mmusi Maimane of the DA taking centre stage. I would love to see more work being put into encouraging young women to lead. The older generation might argue that they know what is best for us because they have more life experience, but I would argue that with new challenges facing us, perhaps a new approach is necessary. The role of the leaders of yesterday is to lay down the foundation, the role of the leaders of tomorrow is to build on it.