Lead­ers with­out a dream are merely fa­cil­i­ta­tors

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

SOUTH Africa is blessed with the most ac­ces­si­ble coal for elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and the world’s sec­on­drich­est min­eral hoard, as well as an ex­cel­lent cli­mate, plen­ti­ful wa­ter and good soils. It is a land with a glit­ter­ing fu­ture, as bright as the gold rings on the hands of newly-weds, but only as sub­stan­tial as the whis­per of gas pass­ing through a plat­inum cat­alytic con­verter – be­cause there is this prob­lem with fa­cil­i­ta­tion and lead­er­ship.

Fa­cil­i­ta­tion is about eas­ing the process (say, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, re­dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth, cor­rup­tion, trough­ing, etc), whilst lead­er­ship is about go­ing some­where.

At a re­cent pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion gath­er­ing, the fa­cil­i­ta­tion-ver­sus-lead­er­ship is­sue was starkly ev­i­dent. There were bril­liant peo­ple present, un­able to lead be­cause of the ab­sence of a “dream”, and re­duced to hope­ful facil- ita­tion go­ing nowhere. Even some well-prac­tised or­a­tory could not in­spire op­ti­mism be­cause of the lack of sub­stance. There were no signs that gen­eral ed­u­ca­tion in this coun­try will rise from the pits any time soon.

Which re­turns me to “our glit­ter­ing fu­ture”: Is it real gold or only fool’s gold that will be shin­ing? And the an­swer lies fair and square with our lead­er­ship, or what must presently be termed our “fa­cil­i­ta­tor­ship”.

Con­tinue with the cur­rent fa­cil­i­ta­tion of trough­ing and cor­rup­tion, con­tinue with fa­cil­i­tat­ing Mu­gabe and il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, con­tinue with fa­cil­i­tat­ing the em­i­gra­tion of skilled peo­ple and con­tinue with mis­guided ed­u­ca­tion poli­cies, and we will con­tinue to not come close to ful­fill­ing our po­ten­tial.

Or start with for mu­lat­ing an “African dream”, in which South Africa’s unique ad­van­tages are utilised: Strong en­cour­age­ment of or­ganic farm­ing meth­ods (more jobs); money poured into sports, arts and cul­ture (bet­ter qual­ity of life, less em­pha­sis on ma­te­ri­al­ism, less in­equal­ity); schools with 11-and 13year diplo­mas, the lat­ter avail­able to po­ten­tial uni­ver­sity en­trants (sim­i­lar to most other coun­tries, more ef­fec­tive re­source use, vastly bet­ter re­sults); more lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing with im­port con­trols (more jobs); more open labour leg­is­la­tion (more jobs); prob­a­bly no BEE (ap­par­ently ac­tu­ally counter-pro­duc­tive); and much more.

And there is ev­ery chance of at least match­ing pace with our peers Brazil and In­dia.

But re­al­is­ti­cally, that is only likely to hap­pen if a sec­ond po­lit­i­cal party were to chal­lenge strongly at the polls. That would greatly im­prove the out­look for get­ting a leader able to re­lease the ge­nie from the South African bot­tle.

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