South Africa does not need comrades in government. These are individuals who think being part of the struggle is a prerequisite for top positions and that speaking political jargon earns them respect. For where South Africa is and where she is going, we do not need those kind of individuals who think they can smooth their way out of accountability by throwing in slithery hisses of incompetence, ducking and diving from their responsibilities.
I took the liberty of checking the dictionary definition of comrade and came across the following: a companion who shares one’s activities or is a fellow member of an organization; a fellow soldier or serviceman. As you can see for yourself, this is, in no way, synonymous with strategic leadership and governance, which are the components one needs to implement a vision that moves an organisation forward.
Comrades tend to cover up for each other. Leaders hold people accountable including their colleagues on the same level. Comrades tend to depend on empty jargon to hide their incompetence. Leaders are people who are actually active and produce results, and then they use their wise words to report on their progress. Comrades think they have the right to break the law when it does not suit them. Leaders produce results within the guidelines of the law and they know that they are accountable to the people they serve. Comrades try to run a country by constantly looking at what they suffered in the past. They lose focus of who they serve. They try to get theirs at all costs to recover what they lost. They hold the accolades of surviving teargas, pump-gun bullets as credentials for stealing from the people they serve.
A true hero, one who has lost family members, one who has survived being electrocuted at John Vorster, being spat on by the former officials of the apartheid regime; is one who will do his best to see this nation succeed. He will not hold it as an accolade to get the biggest tender. He will not wave it to get in on a corrupt deal. He will use it as a reason not to oppress any other human being, be it through corruption or physical torture.
A comrade can ignore the court’s ruling, miss the deadline and still not deliver textbooks when they are already 6 months late. A leader will take responsibility and even resign for failure to deliver on his/her key performance areas.
Comrades can gang up and try to bully citizens into paying for a ‘white elephant’ e-tolling system. A comrade can sign a document authorising the construction of e-tolls without considering the costs of recovering the capital or even the significance of such a system. Leaders convene and consider all options available to better serve the people without stripping them of their hard-earned money before implementing anything.
A comrade can buy a painting from a fast-food outlet and give his daughter back-pay on unjustified car allowance, completely contravening legislation. A leader will not spit on the citizen’s taxes in such a manner. A leader will be guided by legislation and not corrupt nepotism.
South Africa does not need comrades in government. The sooner the citizens, in the majority, realise this and stop being lured by lolly-pop speeches, struggle songs and t-shirts; the sooner they will start realising that the power truly is in their vote. May it not be too late to start realising, as Loyiso Gola said, “You deserve the people you vote for.”