Chris Moerdyk

The nation not the state address

2012-02-13 11:47

Chris Moerdyk

To be honest, I am not convinced about state of the nation addresses. I mean President Zuma did a good job under the circumstances - those circumstances being that he couldn’t really say what he wanted to say but rather what the National Executive Committee of the ANC wanted him to say. Because that's the way it works. State Presidents are not allowed to state - they are only allowed to make approved, rubber stamped, carefully edited, statements.

I have to say I really like the way he chuckles. It makes him look human instead of a Zuma-lookalike robot controlled by the NEC all with their hands on the remote control which even has a button which his right hand head up to his eyebrows to push his glasses back into place. I notice that some wag in the NEC managed to manipulate his fingers to not only push his glasses up but do it in such a way that he actually looks like he is giving  the DA front-benchers a zap sign.

I am quite worried, though, about him getting trouble from the NEC for chuckling because I am quite sure that nowhere in his 18 page speech was there a big asterisk with a note saying "Chuckle at this point". 

But, my real frustration goes way beyond this last State of the Nation Address and involves the hard sand fast rule the ANC has of  making everything it does a collective effort.

Or, to put it simply, doing everything by committee.

This means that we can never hear what President Zuma actually thinks personally. Instead all we hear from him is a carefully worded statement, written and approved by the national executive committe.
It has been even more frustrating that ever since Nelson Mandela retired as president we have never really heard what he thinks and feels and gets annoyed about. Because he has  remained incredibly loyal to the dictates of the ANC for not allowing anyone to speak their minds in public without going through proper channels getting the necessary approval.

And now we can’t even rely on Julius Melena amend his myriad, maniac, misguided. 

Thank goodness for Zweli Vavi, however, because he certainly tells it like he feels and does not give of much of a toss about clearing what he has to say with the ANC because, while he might be a member of the ANC , when he speaks out it is usually with his Cosatu hat on and I am not sure that Cosatu is as strict as the ANC when it comes to letting their leaders have a right royal rant.

What  worries me about at this almost paranoid application of collectivism is that is incredibly inefficient.

I believe that governments, like business empires, sporting teams, ocean liners and jumbo jets - all need captains at their helms to be able to function safely and successfully.

Companies that ran their operations by committee would go bankrupt faster than a Cabinet minister can get off a traffic fine. Sporting teams desperately need leadership from their captains and when it comes  to ships and aircraft there is one golden rule - the captain is the decision-maker, the captain's word is final, the captain's decision is final.

I think governments  that will not allow their leaders to lead but rather expect them to clear everything in advance, are simply turning leaders into figureheads.

I have to wonder whether South Africa needs a real leader to lead by example, by charisma, by emboldened declarations and decisive actions, or should we stick to the good old system of running the country by committee and just sticking some remote controlled robot in front of the TV cameras from time to time to make it look like we have a leader.

When Nelson Mandela was state president he came across as a leader and probably got into trouble regularly from the NEC for speaking his own mind.

Thabo Mbeki on the other hand, got booted out for heading off on his own mission.

It certainly doesn't seem to me that Obama, Cameron, Merckel  and Sarkozy - love 'em or hate 'el, it doesn’t matter - are having to check everything they say with their party committees.

I reckon their parties elected them to lead and let them get on with it and if they cock things up,  well the party just boots them out and puts someone else in. Ask Gordon Brown. 

I am not convinced an leader can run a country effectively if he or she is continually worried about saying the wrong thing or deviating from the party statement. 

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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Read more on:    anc  |  nelson mandela  |  jacob zuma  |  state of the nation 2012

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