JOHANNESBURG – It is said that Jesus once told his followers that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
This adage appears to be true for many crooks, it would appear, who have gone through the ANC’s eye of the needle for deployment in Parliament.
In 2001 the ANC coined Through the Eye of a Needle. The document outlined attributes that would help the ANC identify a true leader. It read like an Ernest Hemingway novel. But as we have seen in the past, the party’s eye of the needle is so big that charlatans such as Mosebenzi Zwane, Des van Rooyen, Faith Muthambi and Ace Magashule can march through it without any glitch like the Red Army marching in victory through the streets of Moscow after defeating the Nazis.
The appointment of Nomvula Mokonyane, though deferred, is a case in point. Can anyone explain what this means exactly?
That someone who spectacularly collapsed the Water Affairs Ministry could be considered for such a key post in Parliament is the clearest indication yet that we are far from an age of consequence management as a country.
The less said about Bathabile Dlamini – whom the Constitutional Court found to have lied before courts – the better. Scholar Zhang Weiwei wrote that competition in the 21st century would be between good and bad governance.
Much has been said about a younger generation of ANC leaders such as Ronald Lamola, Zizi Kodwa and David Masondo making it into Cabinet. But will they be able to rise to the economic challenges that face South Africa at this juncture? Do they have a tried and tested record in governance or have we entered an era of “anyone but Zumanites”?
Not being tainted by state capture allegations should not be the only criteria for appointment to Parliament. The bar should be much higher as the country’s complex socio-economic problems demand a highly talented, effective and experienced executive team that can implement necessary reforms.
Over the weekend, South Africa witnessed the lack of second layers of leadership in the ruling party when ANC Youth League Free State chairperson Makalo Mohale brazenly told a crowd: “We don’t want any qualification that says ensure food security (referring to land expropriation without compensation). To hell with investors.”
The audacity to show investors the middle finger at the time when President Cyril Ramaphosa is going to global investors cap in hand trying to secure $100 billion (R1.44 trillion) in new investments shows the ANC’s eye of the needle is as big as Kimberley’s Big Hole.
But it is also a cry out for help from a young man who is clearly out of touch with reality.
Mohale holds a senior government position in the provincial government. That means he should be advocating for more investments in a country where youth unemployment is approaching 60percent.
The ANC has to learn from the Chinese Communist Party on how to elect credible leaders across all spheres of government. Deng Xiaoping began a process to modernise China by implementing reforms based on his political ideology, “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
Deng’s vision lifted millions out of poverty backed by the party development of a system of governance based on meritocracy.
Those who want to serve in the government need to pass a critical examination.
Once successful, further evaluations should be required to move up the chain of command - such as performing at lower levels of government, understanding its intricacies, while testing characters - in order to hone the specialised skills that are needed for service to the nation.
One only has to look at the profile of Beijing’s leaders elected at the Communist Party’s 19th Congress to understand the skills and experience required to be at the top echelons of the country. Six of the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo run provinces with gross domestic products that are bigger than some countries across the world.
They rose from these provinces with enough experience and expertise to serve their country.
Our democracy is robust and should never be tampered with. But millions of South African are yet to taste its dividends.
A meritocracy regime with a South African character is what we need. It should start with the selection criteria for anyone wishing to hold public office to identify whether the hopeful has the skills and experience that would lead to the creation of jobs, grow the economy, expand social development and reduce poverty. That way, parliament would truly serve the interests of the electorate.