Qualities of leadership

2007-11-22 00:00

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) is currently holding a series of seminars around the country with a view to highlighting the qualities needed for a new leader of the African National Congress. One of these seminars took place this week in this city. It was a welcome sign of a legitimate desire on the part of the church to act as a moral watchdog in the nation as opposed to becoming entangled in the rough and tumble of party politics.

Four particular aspects of leadership have been highlighted. Statesmanship: this involves a capacity to see beyond personal or party interest, and to have a genuine concern for all people everywhere. Moral fortitude: this implies a high standard of ethical behaviour, whether private or public, and a willingness to pursue this standard with courage, even in adversity. A genuine concern for the poor: this is a vital quality for any worthwhile leader in this country currently, where the levels of poverty are still unacceptably high. Finally, a belief in debate: this looks for a readiness within the African National Congress to welcome candid discussion of national issues, with a tolerance of disagreement.

These qualities, taken together, are perhaps bigger than any single individual can embrace. Yet they should be the guiding star. All possible candidates for the presidency - and, indeed, the deputy presidency - of the ANC, including the strongest pair, namely Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, need to be weighed and judged under this bright light.

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