Friends & Friction: Ditch protocol – go back to basics

2015-02-10 06:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

‘Happy birthday,” I wrote on someone’s Facebook wall. I was amazed he’d turned 34, because I’ve known him since he was a baby.

His reply was swift.

“Thank you, uncle. But the UIF is killing me.”

That’s the unemployment insurance fund – and it hurts, because it wasn’t meant to be this way.

We all want our children to succeed and get a better life than us – that’s the definition of progress.

If those who were born after us are in despair, that is regression, whether as a family, community or nation.

Six million jobs was the promise.

The economy is in tatters, communities are in revolt and political leaders have taken refuge behind the blue-light brigade.

Our politicians lost all credibility when they, for no reason, demanded protection from their own people. One day they were activists who led marches, the next they saw the people as savages from whom they needed protection.

We see this all the time in companies where the CEOs are aloof, shielded by an army of Doberman-like secretaries to give them an air of prestige and importance.

Human barriers like these deny leaders the goodwill supporters want to give.

When Ben Magara took over as Lonmin’s CEO after the Marikana massacre, he could have opted to walk around with bodyguards – after all, there were many people baying for blood.

Instead he sat down with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) when hostilities were at their peak and even dared to address the strikers. Some booed him; others insulted him.

Once the strike was over, Magara went on to speak to all 36?000 workers to sell them his vision. He gave them a new purpose beyond going underground and blasting rocks. He bought them T-shirts which read “I dig to build this country”.

That is the hallmark of leadership: working with the people far from air-conditioned offices and making them feel that they belong.

They call him Mnyamane, the blackest one. Tall, dark and big like the stereotypical African in Hollywood movies, he has the confidence to respond to that name and does not insist on being called Mr Magara.

The South African government embraced the idea of protocol like the Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity. It became our state religion.

But while Christianity brought Constantine closer to the people, government protocol removed our politicians from the people and gave themselves the sense that they were gods.

Now the country is burning and it’s time to take stock and get back to the basics.

President Jacob Zuma is the beleaguered emperor, afraid of addressing his people in the seat of power, Parliament, and unable to rest at Fort Nkandla.

His deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, is frozen in the cold shadow of his despised boss. His own reputation is wilting in the boardrooms and being forgotten on the streets – he is slowly sinking in the quicksand of “could-have-beens”.

Our politicians should take back the streets, not through police violence but with the innate charm they’ve used to galvanise the masses before.

Drop the blue-light brigades, find a way back into the hearts of the people; assure them they are loved, the country is under construction – and that they’re doing their best to make those 6?million jobs a reality.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.