The balance of forces is gradually shifting in favour of forces outside mainstream politics. Forces located within mainstream political environment have become complacent and insensitive to the peopleship’s needs. Pre-occupation with material consumption has completely taken their eyes off the ball. Post liberation gains have largely been reversed through nefarious activities. Mainstream politics has become unintelligent, saturated and infested with deeply entrenched conflict, allowing rogue elements to thrive on the resulting anarchy.
Leaders there excel in pointing out things that should not have happened – but fail to provide an alternative trajectory. It has become fashionable to apologise for past mistakes. Strategic blunders have transformed the political environment into forests for assassins. Blunders at the top have had devastating effects on the economy. Speaking out for excellence within mainstream politics has become life-threatening.
Political criminals in collaboration with self-proclaimed tsotsis have occupied the political centre stage.
Criminals are heartless: one thing in common on their agenda is the scramble for gold and diamonds – one of the factors that has turned municipalities, in particular, into lions’ dens. Rogue elements in the private sector have also played a role in turning some public representatives, together with some officials, into facilitators for their crimes.
The take-over of affluent metros by the opposition coalition under a DA leadership should be understood in this context.
The local space is about proper governance and the provision of services. This is not an ideological matter, but a practical one that is used in the electoral space to ascend to power. Sustaining political hegemony is maintained through turning governance structures into paragons of excellence.
The intention here is not to promote a particular political view over other contending political views. Ours is to write factually correct pieces without prejudice. Democracy is a fiercely contested space that cannot be taken for granted. The deepening of democracy, among other things, means competition of ideas and the provision of quality services in an equitable manner. Credible and reputable leadership is a critical factor in a thriving democracy.
For it to succeed, it must surround itself with fine minds, with heterogeneous perspectives reflecting the dynamics of society.
Leadership must inspire the nation across the board, and must be able to create an environment for economic growth and development underpinned by free political activity in different spaces of life.
We need astute leaders with the ability to promote an equilibrium between first-generation and second-generation rights. Theese are dialectically related, and inseparable, from a progressive point of view. The role of the state should be located within this dialectic. The complexity of this relationship is beyond the comprehension of traditionalists, who are out of their depth when it comes to running a modern state like ours with a complex economic network.
The big question, do we have such a calibre of leadership among us? South Africa at this time requires a new political outlook and a fresh approach to our challenges.
Nostalgia is not the way to go and, as such, nostalgic antics promote myth and rhetoric.
Strategists survive because they adapt to the new situation in order reconfigure its long-term direction. South Africa has reached a point where it must create a new environment for its rebirth and renewal. Different generations play different roles at different times in reshaping society.
* Christian Mxoliswa Mbekela is a strategic work consultant specialising in HR, EE and risk management. A former SAYCO NEC member, he was part of the team that re-established the ANC Youth League. He is currently doing a PhD in the Sociology Department at Rhodes University.