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Motalatale S. Modiba
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The cost of high office

20 December 2012, 16:36

I have to confess that in spite of my best efforts to tone down my appetite for the inside story of what is happening at the 53rd Elective Conference of the ANC in Mangaung, like the characters in the hot wings craving tv advert by Chicken Licken, the monkey on my back always gets the better of me.

I am convinced my fixation if I can call it that with the Mangaung conference has seriously affected my view of things. Since from the weeks leading to Mangaung to this day, I tend to see everything through Mangaung lenses. My wife has even accused me of using “Mangaung Speak” in the house whatever that is.

No wonder this morning, in need of a ‘decoy’ – there goes that word that was catapulted to the South African political lexicon in the run up to the Polokwane conference ironically by a man whose name seems to be destined for extinction from the very book, at least for now – I opened the Holy Scriptures.

And lo! I landed on Mark 10:35-44 which narrates the story of a two comrades making a request to their leader. Even after wiping my spectacles, admittedly I used my bed sheet, I still found that my view was somehow impaired as proceeded to read the story.

I was flowing with the story when suddenly without any warning whatsoever, I detoured into Mangaung. With the top six positions having been settled, there has been a lot of jostling for the 80 NEC (National Executive Committee) seats at the grounds the University of the Free State where the plus minus 4500 delegates are deciding on the leadership of the oldest liberation movement in Africa.

Delegates at this conference are very much aware of the sway of power that is inherent in just being nominated to an NEC position.

While some cadres who have had their fair share of the lime light have now declared themselves unavailable “to serve in that capacity,” with a few others refusing the “temptation” that comes with the mandate to serve on the NEC,  many other covertly hold ambitions to ascend to this powerful structure of the ANC.

In the story from the book of Mark, James and John approached Christ almost secretively (lobbying) to ask for a collective favour. They wanted to each be assured of a position of influence.

Instead of dismissing the two for being too ambitious I noticed that Christ asked them if they have carefully considered the cost of their request.

I also observed that the other comrades (disciples) when they heard that the two were positioning themselves were very indignant (they contested).

Christ was quick to call the comrades to the table and warned them of how when people get a little power it quickly goes into their head.

It was interesting to me that Christ did not necessarily question the desire to high office rather he was more concerned about finding out if those that has such ambitions had considered the real price – servant hood and self-sacrifice.  

And so as the Mangaung conference concludes in a day or so and perhaps offering me a change to have my eyesight restored, I am left wondering if those that have accept nomination to “serve” in various capacities have considered the real cost of ascending to the Luthuli House.

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