Lead­ers need to be in the know

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Rob Brad­field

THE DY­ING days of 2016 gave us the spec­ta­cle of the SABC be­ing hum­bled by its so-called lead­ers, and put out of its mis­ery by a par­lia­men­tary in­qui­si­tion.

The good mem­bers left first. The last to leave was a pro­fes­sor who, by his own ad­mis­sion, did not know any­thing about what was hap­pen­ing. The “know-noth­ings” were be­ing led by the nose, by a nar­cis­sis­tic knowit-all.

How is it pos­si­ble that the pub­lic sec­tor and gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions ap­pear to be led by such in­ef­fec­tual lead­ers? They are seat warm­ers and salary spongers; while the pri­vate sec­tor seems to have the cream of the crop. The pri­vate sec­tor has a good spread of the colour spec­trum. In con­trast, the pub­lic sec­tor ap­pears mono­chrome.

Many black peo­ple have gained lead­er­ship roles in var­i­ous en­ter­prises of the pub­lic sec­tor. They’re there be­cause they were cho­sen on merit for their know-how and abil­i­ties.

With proven cre­den­tials, their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties were given to them by re­spon­si­ble lead­ers in these com­pa­nies – not by ir­re­spon­si­ble and un­e­d­u­cated ju­niors. Some have even cho­sen the path of en­trepreneur­ship. Yet these ded­i­cated pioneers, who have learnt to think be­yond their his­tor­i­cal bound­aries, are sar­cas­ti­cally called “co­conuts” by some as well as “clever blacks”.

They are re­ferred to by these names be­cause, deep inside, they have a sense of know­ing – they have knowl­edge. They know what they’re do­ing. They know the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal ter­rain, and the dif­fer­ence be­tween right and wrong.

Cases of cor­rup­tion in this sec­tor would soon be de­tected and ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion taken in­ter­nally. Blacks and whites work in har­mony in most in­stances. In this melt­ing pot, the best lead­ers, ir­re­spec­tive of colour, will rise to the sur­face.

On the flip­side, many of the lead­er­ship roles in the gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic sec­tor ap­pear to have been manned by peo­ple who seem to know lit­tle.

The per­cep­tion is they have been placed there by un­e­d­u­cated ju­niors. One sus­pects these “cho­sen pup­pets” must be less clever than the pup­pet mas­ter. That du­bi­ous qual­i­fi­ca­tions breed doubt­ful qual­i­fiers.

It takes a proper leader to recog­nise proper lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

We hope and trust that in 2017, our pres­i­dent will have a change of vi­sion.

May he do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent this year – choose SABC board mem­bers from the “clever-black” sec­tion of so­ci­ety, choose a “co­conut” or two. They can be black on the out­side, if needs be. But let them have some knowl­edge about how the SABC is sup­posed to work.

Zuma’s New Year res­o­lu­tion should be to stop his pup­pet show and try some­thing new. He could con­sider the un­think­able – choose one or two knowl­edge­able white peo­ple.

How’s that for a chal­lenge? The abil­ity to think out­side the box should put a shine on a very dull im­age.

My ad­vice: don’t cut off the “KNOWs” to spite the face of South Africa. Brack­endowns, Al­ber­ton

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