From the editor’s desk
This is the month during which Nelson Mandela was born and every year on 18 July we gather together as a nation and remember the man born in 1918.
On 11 February 1990 Madiba walked out of Victor Verster Prison after 27 years behind bars, then stood before a massive crowd at a rally in Cape Town. At the time I was working as a senior reporter at Radio 702 and the memory of this moment remains visceral and emotional.
He began like this:
“Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people.Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”
He thanked many people during the next few minutes, but that speech was 1 606 words long, or a mere three A4 pages. Mandela, who had symbolised the mobilisation against apartheid internationally, made it quite clear:
“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people.”
This magazine prints stories about leadership in government, and those words Madiba spoke 28 years ago should be imprinted in the consciousness of those of us who serve in government.
We need to be humble and servants of the people.
Too often we read about the self-serving interests and a lack of service delivery, mainly because those involved believe they are not humble servants, but arrogant opportunists.This motivation to take as much as can be taken as quickly as possible is an insult to Madiba’s memory.
There’s no nice way to say this to the greedy and power-hungry people inside and outside government who dispense with honour and reward themselves with other people’s money and treasure.
You are an embarrassment to our government and our country and must be identified and removed.
Being upwardly mobile is one thing, flagrantly abusing the rights of citizens by failing to properly adhere to the required level of service is another.
The discourse we face in 2018 would no doubt upset a leader of Madiba’s significance.There are cheap shots being fired on an hourly basis without any understanding of the social and economic effects of the hateful and spiteful views that predominate. The politics of the struggle is still with us, but missing is the erudite and thoughtful commentary.
It’s a desperate clamour of the lowest of the low that makes some of our systems more fallible and is enraging citizens with attitudes that are blind to compassion and bereft of patience.
During that eponymous speech Madiba also said:“It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured”.
Look around you, PSM reader, and decide how disciplined we are. It’s time to restate our position as government workers and say “I am the humble servant of the people” and begin to deliver services before these same citizens.