Why is Herman Mashaba not in Cabinet?

2014-06-01 15:00

Herman Mashaba is among the pantheon of great South Africans. His hair-styling empire, Black Like Me, has been an inspiration to generations.

A pianist, a founder and supporter of the Field Band Foundation and of young visual artists, Mashaba is an African Renaissance man.

Born near Hammanskraal, Mashaba is the embodiment of the can-do spirit. With a R30?000 loan, he and wife Connie started Black Like Me and turned it into one of South Africa’s world success stories. You cannot fail to be inspired by Mashaba’s story.

He was a business activist with the Free Market Foundation, which he chaired until this week.

With that hat on, Mashaba took to being slayer in chief of red tape. He fronted several court cases to challenge what he perceived as labour laws that cauterised small businesses long before they got out of the starting blocks.

While workers have benefited from the democratic dispensation’s laws to protect minimum wages and the working relationship, there is no doubt they hurt small businesses by imposing costs and limitations to growth.

Mashaba knows this first-hand. His advocacy role this week morphed into a political shape when he joined the DA. More businesspeople should take up roles in public leadership, but we do wish he was joining Cabinet rather than an opposition party.

South Africa needs his hands-on experience in a powerful and shaping role. In many successful developing countries, the key to flourishing lies in drawing successful citizens into political roles.

Our new Cabinet is entirely political, with little experience or technocratic skill in the business ministries.

People like Mashaba should be harnessed for the national good.

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