Leader neglect within post-94 school

2010-07-17 20:41

The ­absence of the late Dr Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, the former leader of the Progressive Federal ­Party (PFP), from government was unfortunate.

Anyone who had the courage and the foresight to trek to Dakar to meet the leaders of a banned organisation – as the ANC was at the time – ­deserved to be included in the new democratic order.

Unlike other PFP leaders of the time, Slabbert clearly ­believed the black man was ready and ­capable to rule this country.

That set him apart from the likes of Helen Suzman, Colin Eglin and other liberals.

Under the PFP these leaders appeared to be content with “speaking on behalf of the black man” even when the same black man had continually told them that it was time the white liberals stopped thinking they knew better when it came to what the black man wanted.

Black leaders such as Steve Biko, Dr Nchaupe Aubrey Mokoape and Strini Moodley in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and later those in the United Democratic Movement (UDF) told the liberals that their continual insistence to speak on behalf of the ­majority was untenable.

The reasons for Slabbert’s exclusion most probably lie elsewhere because the first democratic government under then-president Nelson Mandela was inclusive by nature.

The late Sheena Duncan of the Black Sash should also have been part of the new government.

There are a number of women and children – mainly from the black community – who the Black Sash helped in their ­daily struggles against apartheid laws.

That organisation had a first-hand understanding of the conditions under which the black community lived.

That kind of knowledge would have been valuable to the new regime.

Slabbert or Duncan would not have ­allowed the building of uncovered toilets for the people of Khayelitsha.

Nor would they have turned around and blamed the poor for not having finished off the toilets on their own.

I can also not see these two leaders filling government posts with only white officials.

Liberals like Slabbert and Black Consciousness Movement leaders such as Mokoape, and veteran journalist and political leader Moodley should have been part of the government.

They would no doubt have helped all of us as we grappled with the issue of transformation and development in the new democracy.

There are many South Africans in all walks of life who contributed tremendously ­towards this country’s freedom and some of us would have liked to see them continuing their contributions once democracy had been attained.

But I acknowledge that leaders can also contribute from outside government.

There are many people who are working outside the government and are doing outstanding work, developing their communities.

Irvin ­Khoza, the chairperson of the 2010 Fifa local organising committee, is a shining ­example.

The goal should be that, wherever we are as individuals and organisations, we should strive for the betterment of South Africa.

» Bhungani ka Mzolo is a former ­journalist now employed by the ­government 

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