The young Biko on the business of politics

2013-02-24 10:00

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Mandy Rossouw speaks to Hlumelo Biko, Mamphela Ramphele and Steve Biko’s son, who despite coming from struggle royalty says he has no plans to get into politics himself in the near future

Is the ANC in crisis?

It’s important for the ANC to look at participating in discussions about electoral reform and change the way civil servants are incentivised.

They need to be taking away deployment and accepting the fact there should be retribution for actions that are clearly not in the interests of the people.

People’s interests have taken a back seat to party loyalty, credentials, where you are from and links with different leadership groupings.

It sets us on a path where the wrong incentives will determine how people do their jobs.

You can’t get people who will do good work if there are bad incentives.

Even the most ardent fans of the ANC will have to say the party has disappointed them and the country in terms of not putting its best foot forward.

Do you think your mother’s platform, Agang, is a possible successful threat to the ANC?

Depends on how you measure success at the ballot box.

Long-term success of any opposition party in the country today must be measured in its ability to work with other opposition parties as an organised coalition.

I really think that it’s too early to tell.

It depends on how these opposition people feel about each other, if they’re able to reach consensus on a set of values they can take to voters.

It depends on if they’re long-sighted enough to see past now and to think about providing concrete opposition for a two-party system in the country. It’s worked in other parts of the world.

Is your mother the best person to drive this move?

I’m completely biased.

I think it’s all about legitimacy and if the others feel she has the legitimacy to take the role of being a senior person in that coalition, then great.

Will you be joining?

No. I’m firmly in business.

I think my big contribution is to be made in helping medium-sized companies grow.

Some of us need to support entrepeneurs who are taking huge risks, and I love it and I’m good at it.

Were you surprised when your mother made the decision to enter politics?

I think there’s a tipping point with people who enter politics.

I think she must have gone on a spiritual journey that led her to the point where she felt she had to provide leadership in a political environment because she’s been providing leadership in other arenas quite successfully.

She’s going into it with her eyes open.

That alone is something I admire as a family member, but I don’t think it’s nice to see someone you love go through what she is about to go through. But she feels compelled to do it.

So you won’t write them a cheque at least?

I don’t think they need a cheque from me; they need more South Africans to contribute in the form of volunteering.

Money is a small part of politics.

It’s more about people on deck and getting the message out.

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