Pressing Issues: Leadership needs serious overhaul

2011-11-26 20:57

An email titled “Why Africa is 25 years behind the developed world”, made the rounds in April.

A piece by political commentator Benzi Ka-Soko titled “Permanent leadership breeds dictatorship” was attached.

The email drew comparisons on the ages of African leaders, who at that time included the now-deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and the late Muammar Gaddafi (how time flies), and those from “the first world”.

The average age of African leaders, including the then 86-year-old Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Senegal president Abdoulaye Wade (83), was 75.6. At the time the email was written, first-world leaders such as the US’s Barack Obama (then 48); the UK’s David Cameron (43); Australia’s Julia Gillard (49); and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy (55), pooled an average of 51.1, a difference of 25 years.

The question was: guys, how do we move forward with this squad?

Ka-Soko opined that “dictatorship has negatively crippled the African continent.”

I couldn’t help but make comparisons during the two-day National Sports Indaba held in Midrand this week.

Among those gracing the Indaba were faces that have been around the sporting block a few times, such as Mthobi Tyamzashe (57) who directed the proceedings over the two days. There was also Sam Ramsamy (73), Danny Jordaan (60), Gideon Sam (62) Molefi Oliphant (59) and a few other elderly sports officials.

At 51 and 53 respectively, Saru president Oregan Hoskins and Safa president Kirsten Nematandani must be among the youngest SA sports federations’ presidents.

Among the youngest participants were Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula (40) and Gauteng Sports MEC Lebo Maile (32).

Mbalula has revolutionised sport since being given the portfolio last November after it was previously turned into a retirement village.

With due respect, he needs an injection of energetic young leaders in the sports fraternity to see his ambitious National Sports Plan succeed.

Sports leadership the world over needs a serious overhaul.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter is 75, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge is 69, International Association of Athletics Federations head honcho Lamine Diack is 78 and Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou is 65..

Ka-Soko wrote: “Some leaders become overwhelmed by and obsessed with power to an extent that it becomes to them, unthinkable to relinquish it.”

Can sport afford to follow that route? Is this not why African sport is lagging so far behind and we still haven’t had an African team proceed past the World Cup quarterfinal stage?

One wonders what makes people covet top positions from the age of 60 when retirement from active sports starts in the late 20s and early 30s.

We need recently retired sports men and women to take over administration and leadership positions soon after their playing days are over while they are still fresh. 

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