Fos­sil­is­ing lead­er­ship

Politi­cians hold­ing onto the reins of power for far too long are detri­men­tal to any coun­try. In SA, the lack of cir­cu­la­tion in po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship has led to a dearth of ideas and progress

Destiny Man - - POLITICS -

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has been in the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) of the ANC for 40 years – longer than the en­tire life­time of the cur­rent French Pres­i­dent. And this ex­traor­di­nar­ily long ser­vice in a lead­er­ship struc­ture isn’t pe­cu­liar to Zuma. Min­is­ter of En­ergy Jeff Radebe has been in ev­ery Cab­i­net since 1994, serv­ing un­der five dif­fer­ent Pres­i­dents, the United Demo­cratic Move­ment’s Bantu Holomisa has been Pres­i­dent of that or­gan­i­sa­tion for over 21 years, the Inkatha Free­dom Party’s oc­to­ge­nar­ian leader Prince Man­go­suthu Buthelezi has been party Pres­i­dent since 1975, spend­ing an un­be­liev­able 43 years at the helm and the Free­dom Front Plus’s for­mer leader, Pi­eter Mul­der, served in Par­lia­ment for 30 years. As for the Demo­cratic Al­liance, Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor Ian Neil­son was first elected to the coun­cil in 1996.

These ex­am­ples paint a pic­ture of a stag­na­tion of lead­er­ship, with in­sti­tu­tions such as Par­lia­ment, leg­is­la­tures and coun­cils be­ing har­nessed to the same per­son­al­i­ties and the same ideas for three decades, on av­er­age. No won­der Par­lia­ment’s mak­ing slow progress in ad­dress­ing the the triple chal­lenges of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity – the same in­di­vid­u­als who were dis­cussing so­lu­tions back in

1994 are still do­ing so to­day. The ex­am­ple set by for­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela, of stepping down af­ter just one term in of­fice – for pre­cisely this rea­son – has gone un­heeded.

In bi­ol­ogy we learn that if any part of the body fails to re­ceive ad­e­quate blood cir­cu­la­tion, it will at­ro­phy and even­tu­ally die. Keep­ing po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions youth­ful is vi­tal for the free flow of ideas; it en­gen­ders in­sti­tu­tional vi­brancy and ef­fec­tive­ness. Since the ar­rival of the youth­ful Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers in Par­lia­ment we’ve seen a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of MPs doz­ing off

We need this in­sti­tu­tional vi­brancy to be main­tained and ex­ported to other or­gan­i­sa­tions – and the best way to do that is by in­tro­duc­ing term lim­its in all po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship po­si­tions. No coun­cil­lor, Par­lia­men­tar­ian, Cab­i­net mem­ber or NEC mem­ber should be per­mit­ted to re­tain that po­si­tion for longer than 10 years. We have to en­sure a healthy cir­cu­la­tion of fresh, young blood in lead­er­ship.

Young as he is, when Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi’s com­pleted his 10 years in the Cen­tral Com­mand of the EFF, he should move on and en­ter academia, per­haps, or what­ever field he chooses – but he must cre­ate space for an­other young and en­er­getic Mbuyiseni to come in and con­tribute. The same goes for all lead­ers. A decade in any port­fo­lio is suf­fi­cient to make their con­tri­bu­tion and then pass on the ba­ton.


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