It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
Mostly sunny. Mild.
Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba. (Cornel van Heerden, Netwerk24)
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It's not uncommon for a person to tell me that they want to
resign from their jobs and look for a new business opportunity. As a business
coach, my role is not only to guide them through this process, but also to help
them determine if it's really a change of career that they need, or rather a
darn good holiday.
It is remarkable how often exhaustion results in us willing
to throw it all away when the cure really is a few weeks of "R and R".
This is especially common this time of the year when people
are "running on empty" and December is around the corner, but not
Despite statements to the contrary, I believe that the
resignation of Herman Mashaba as mayor of Johannesburg might be viewed in this
Mashaba needs a break. He said so and he is looking forward
to the down time.
This should not be a surprise. Being the mayor of a city
like Johannesburg must be exhausting and thankless. The task is overwhelming
and the criticism must be relentless. One must feel for the guy. No matter how
much progress he and his team might have made, there will always be one pothole
somewhere that will be used by a resident as proof that "nothing has
changed". It must be soul destroying and very tiring.
To some extent, Mashaba's resignation echoes the attitude of
a number of US celebrities who confidently announced that in the unlikely event
of Donald Trump becoming president, they would immediately leave the country
and take up residence in Canada or Australia. Anywhere where Trump would have
Although they did not follow through on their threat and
have rightly been ridiculed for their empty promises, Mashaba was not willing
to be perceived as someone who is not true to his word. Even if Helen Zille is
And so, true to his promise, he resigned when he really should
have gone on holiday.
It's a noble approach. Or, it would be, if keeping his word was
the only measure. If we add the fact that his role as mayor is important to the
residents of the city, and that they will be let down by his resignation, then
the picture is not quite as praiseworthy.
Although he represented the DA, a party that has clearly
disappointed him, what of the people of Johannesburg, who he undertook to
serve? As a proud resident of his city, I was unaware that his position was so
tenuous. Whereas of course I would expect him to step away should he encounter
corruption of any sort, it is somewhat perplexing that he would do so after a
democratic process undertaken by his party. It seems a little adolescent.
The other nagging issue is why he has such an issue with the
democratic appointment of Zille? Whereas I am not at all a fan of the great
Zille return, and believe that she could have kept away from the party, surely Mashaba could be a voice of opposition from within the party and didn't need to
resign to make his point. Of all people, he already has access to as much media
attention as desired.
Unless he just needs a holiday.
Mashaba chose to resign when the Jacarandas are in bloom. He
chose to leave our city when it is at its magnificent best. When the purple
trees embrace our streets and form canopies of splendour. No one does that
unless they are at their wits' end.
Unless they are in desperate need of a holiday.
Though I believe the residents of Johannesburg and the DA
will suffer for this decision, it needs to be acknowledged that once again it
is evident that South Africa is a robust democracy. No one is forced to tow the
party line and individual freedoms and liberties can be closely weighed up
against the collective need.
Just like the Jacarandas, that is something that we should
all be proud of.
- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.
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