Manuel on the struggle to lead well

2012-10-13 20:04

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel says too much focus on who leads the ANC and government ignores the fact that leadership has to be “multi-layered and multi-faceted” to succeed.

Delivering the Ahmed Kathrada annual lecture in Lenasia, south Joburg yesterday, he said the challenges of running a government were more difficult than running an organisation outside government in the struggle era.

“In the almost 20 years since ­democracy, the major challenges have arisen because we haven’t found a way to maintain two ­discrete centres of power – and my submission is that this term is far more complex than looking at the individuals concerned,” he said.

“Yet running two different kinds of organisations with the same cadre of people is extraordinarily difficult. For good measure, add the layer of complexity provided by the need to maintain the ­tripartite alliance.”

Manuel said the weakness of discourse in South Africa was that it is happy to discuss policy or the allocation of resources, but appeared “to lose vigilance required over implementation”.

“As a consequence of all of these factors, the debates on leadership are frequently misplaced and too often focuses on leadership of ­party and state at the highest ­level, ignoring the reality that for leadership to succeed it has to be multi-faceted and deeply layered,” he said.

Manuel said the emphasis on “delivery” created a gap between “an active state and a passive populace”, which he said was complicated by an electoral system that created a chasm between the voters and their representatives.

Responding to him, academic and businesswoman Dr Mamphela Ramphele said the South ­African citizens were passive and tended to be aggressive when mobilised, sometimes at the expense of their future.

She blamed the failures of the public education system, which left a lot of youth out of employment and educational institutions.

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