Nkandlagate, leadership and society

2014-11-26 13:45

Never in the history of democratic South Africa has a matter like Nkandlagate been so divisive.

It has polarised the unity of South African society along odd lines and threatened to collapse the foundations on which our constitutional democracy is built.

It has divided fellow South Africans against each other, ANC comrades against each other, ANC parliamentarians against opposition parties, the executive against the Office of the Public Protector.

It also pits the proponents of anarchy and hooliganism against the proponents of order and justice.

Now the matter threatens to destroy the authority and dignity of Parliament, the Office of the Public Protector, political leaders and the South African Constitution itself.

The truth of the matter is that Nkandlagate is a huge scandal by all measures and cannot be ignored or simply wished away.

At the heart of the scandal is the absence and bankruptcy of the leadership’s DNA.

ANC leaders were internationally renowned for being the moral compass of society. Their ideals and ambitions were superseded by those of the broader public and their principal task was to unite society at all costs.

Instead of being self-serving, they were servants of the people.

Instead of enriching themselves, they strove to create a better life for all South Africans.

Instead of building palaces for themselves, they preferred to build houses for the poor and needy.

Indeed, they were equal to the task.

On hearing of the plans to build Nkandla, an ANC cadre or leader with a revolutionary conscience would have immediately stopped it.

They would have said: “Not in my name, not in my private residence, not in the name of the ANC for it is a national heritage for the people of South Africa.”

And they would certainly not have built it with public funds.

Now that Nkandlagate has happened, the cadre would have taken responsibility and remained accountable to the public.

They would have said: “I am sorry, South Africans, things went terribly wrong, it happened right under my stewardship therefore I am accountable and liable, and these are the remedial actions to recoup public funds.”

They would also never allow such a scandal to recur by putting better systems and controls in place to combat maladministration, fraud and corruption. And the matter would be closed by general agreement.

Surely, South African society would have taken such a leader into their confidence, comprehended the magnitude of Nkandlagate and not allowed it to tear them apart.

More importantly, it would have inspired South Africans to have trust in their public institutions such as Parliament, the Public Protector and their political leaders.

It would have united patriotic South Africans behind the strong values expressed in our Constitution and democracy.

Maubane is a local government practitioner

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