JOHANNESBURG - Are you aware that rushing towards a goal is a sublimated death wish? It’s no coincidence we call them “deadlines”, said Tom Robbins.

All of us want a president who seeks the best people from all walks of life who are strong, experienced, capable South Africans. This should be a team of people who will be dedicated to doing what is right for our Rainbow Nation.

But, as American novelist Robbins advises in his novel Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas, President Cyril Ramaphosa should take his time to consult widely and choose qualified people of high stature, strong philosophies and personalities in their own right.

Of course, there is some impatience for him to firm up his cabinet choices. After all, our country is in terrible shape. But he should be given at least a month to choose people who will inform his administration and broaden its perspectives, rather than recycle the same faces who will function as puppets. Ramaphosa should consult widely with all parties, the business sector, the government and NGOs to realise his clarion cry for servant leadership and Bra Hugh Masekela’s clarion cry of Send Me.

We have heard how Ramaphosa, a servant leader, is committed to the growth of his people, building up the community. And he listens to the input of others.

In contrast to the attitude that accountability has to do with finding who is to blame, to a servant leader accountability is about making it safe to learn from mistakes, as he admitted and confirmed that unemployment, poverty and other social ills have ravaged our country for too long.

The values of servant leadership - putting others first - Batho Pele (People First) and leading from the heart - need to emerge from every corner of the Rainbow Nation, including the business community.

According to the Institute of Race Relations, former president Jacob Zuma presided over 12 cabinets in nine years, made 133 changes to his national executive, with an average cabinet lasting only 8.6 months. If you were a minister or deputy minister in Msholozi’s cabinet, change seriously encroached on your servant leadership.


As expressed by many authors of books on leadership, a servant leader actively cares for the welfare of others with courage, compassion, humility and flexibility. Our new president has urged us all to embody the spirit of service, as in Masekela’s song.

Ramaphosa should be given space and time to choose his leadership team, which advocates service and interdependence over self-interest and independence.

How reassuring and rewarding it is to hear our new president promote the kind of cultural transition needed for our country to join world-class leadership.

But this will not happen without a cabinet which espouses servant leadership.

A cabinet should serve the people, not dominate or abuse them. And now we know that those who plunder public money will suffer the consequences.

That is why members of Ramaphosa’s cabinet need to go beyond self-righteousness and hypocrisy. They need to practise what they preach and preach only what they practise. In blunt terms, walk the talk.

Our upcoming cabinet needs to honestly search their conscience and ask themselves some questions regarding money, wealth and possessions. They need to ask whether these give them security or success, power or prestige? If the answer to a large extent is yes, then they need to come to an awareness that they are not sincere servant leaders of the people, but are seeking gain or glory for themselves or their parties.

Those striving to serve in Ramaphosa’s cabinet must be aware of and accept that he or she must be ready and willing to be a sincere servant of the people and be prepared to make sacrifices or even suffer for the people.

Humility and servant leadership are values that the new president cherishes and talks about often, including in his maiden speech as our president.

Indeed, there is an urgency all around. Ramaphosa faces crises on many fronts, particularly unemployment, inequality and poverty, accompanied by corruption and an economic crisis on a scale not seen since 1994. He will need to assemble an administration that will start delivering on his promises and fight rampant corruption.

Rich Mkhondo runs The Media and Writers Firm (, and does ghost-writing, content development and reputational management.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Independent Group.