SA is yet to have a president

2017-09-06 06:01
PHOTO: SuppliedZipho Makhoba.

PHOTO: SuppliedZipho Makhoba.

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THIS past weekend I bumped into one of my friends from varsity. I was delighted. We exchanged pleasantries, we remarked on the weather.

In the midst of all the ecstasy and reminiscence on our school days, he reminded me of one eccentric professor of literature who used to say to us, “stupid questions lead to great answers”.

This particular professor would argue it is when people ask stupid questions that one feels morally and ethically obligated to overwhelm such by intelligence.

Moreover, these stupid questions push us to the rarely utilised terrains of our brain and only there we find brilliant answers, if not options.

As humans, our ontological vocation orbits around finding answers. If our brain fails to give us answers, at least, it should lead us to options.

Today’s article is largely inspired by the eccentric professor’s stance on stupid questions. I wish to demonstrate this by asking this stupid question – has this country had a president since 1994?

The advent of our constitutional democracy in 1994 promised to vehicle our country into a free, just, equal and multiracial context, one that ensures that the children, men and women of this country thrive.

Conversely, the very same democracy introduced us to varying degrees of stupidity, contradictions and stagnation. At this juncture, I should like us to focus on the possibility that South Africa is yet to have a president. The foregoing assertion presupposes that South Africa has not had a president since 1994.

At first glance, this is a stupid inquiry, in any language. However, an intellectually responsible person approaches this inquiry as an opportunity to engage and educate. This is exactly what we are going to help each other achieve in this article.

It is unfortunate that the period in question - 1994 to present - happens to be the African National Congress dynasty. The “presidents” we have had all come from this organisation and their tasks have always been twofold - leading the organiaation and leading the republic.

To this end I argue the “presidents” we have been given by this political party do not seem to have been meant for presidency.

Put differently, the ANC has never had a presidential candidate for genuine presidential duties. The previous two decades the ANC has been merely giving us tools for certain ends. This means that the movement treats its candidates as means to an end, as opposed to an end.

For example, when the ANC wanted to gain popularity among the financial elites, they gave us Thabo Mbeki as president, more so, to gain votes and strengthen its hold in the Eastern Cape.

Similarly, the ANC realised that Mbeki was over-championing the interests of the learned and elites, whom by the way, constituted a minority. This minority was not going to give the ANC the votes they needed to ensure the party’s longevity.

Meanwhile, an enormous number of the illiterate and working class already felt vulnerable. Here again, the ANC employed its tricks, and used the popularity of President Jacob Zuma to oust Mbeki, but also win votes from Zuma’s constituency. Here too, a pawn was being moved on the board.

It is such tendencies by the ruling party that invites problems and instabilities, not only for the party, but sadly for the people of this country as well. The ANC seems inclined to cunning and quick fixes.

As highlighted above, I know by flashing out the loop-holes in the style and manner the ANC does things is just as easily castigated as is debunking certain elements of Christianity to a Christian.

At this stage, I am positive you can see where a stupid question has led us.

A stupid question has revealed the shortcomings of our PR system, our narrow voting behaviour, the cunning character of the ruling party and the quality of leaders and schooling we do not have. South Africa, we have a huge task before us.

We have a serious leadership deficit on our South African soil, we have failed and still continue to breed leaders, leaders in the authentic sense of the word. We need to start breeding leaders whose calibre transcends racial, tribal and partisan differences.

Unless and until we breed leaders of such calibre we shall continue to have our progress hampered.

Knowing our PR system has shown us that it is possible for a party president to also be a president of the country.

Therefore, our next batch of leaders should be able to “outdoor” partisan politics, whereby, they put forth the interests of their party at the expense of the country’s. I am convinced this duty can be made real by the citizens and civil society establishments.

• Zipho Makhoba is an author, social commentator and a research consultant at Makhoba Consultants (Pty) Ltd.

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