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The height from which we’ve fallen: ‘We are selling broke stories’

Lorenzo A Davids writes that ministers like Nathi Mthethwa (pictured), Fikile Mbalula and Lindiwe Sisulu have made us cringe with what comes out of their mouths. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Lorenzo A Davids writes that ministers like Nathi Mthethwa (pictured), Fikile Mbalula and Lindiwe Sisulu have made us cringe with what comes out of their mouths. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Published May 25, 2022

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After 28 years, as the party tasked with the sound governance and collective prosperity of South Africa, the ANC leadership seems to have run out of leaders.

There appears to be no one across the many government leadership platforms with the competencies to use effective leadership to build a transformative culture of good governance and prosperity for all South Africans.

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The ANC politicians look a tired bunch. They just can’t seem to move the levers of state to unlock the safety and prosperity South Africans need at this point.

Our growing indebtedness to China and Russia has littered any independent policy pathway with debt trap conditions that undermine the stimulation of the South African economy.

On key global human rights positions, we take our cue from the positions China and Russia take on these issues.

Our political leaders have been reduced to grovelling for investment. At the current Davos Summit, South African political and business leaders will wear their branded scarves and tired smiles.

The ANC is like the individual who regularly comes to my home for food.

Each week I work on ideas to help him more and in better ways. And each week, he spins me another story that raises my suspicions and scepticism and puts all my plans on hold.

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We are selling broke stories. And people do not invest in broke stories. As I look across our political landscape, I don’t see a profound leadership arising out of our current political class.

We have two political types that exist in South Africa: the entitled and the loyalist. The entitled keeps telling us of their family name and Struggle credentials. The loyalists carry the bags of the entitled, hoping to one day inherit the throne of the entitled.

The more one engages our politicians, the more we should fear what they say in meetings. Ministers like Nathi Mthethwa, Fikile Mbalula and Lindiwe Sisulu have made us cringe with what comes out of their mouths.

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One would think that the ANC would call on South Africa’s academic and economic intelligence to help set a course for the country that gets us out of this ever-deepening sinkhole. Alas, not so.

The government sends Minister Mthethwa to tell us we are going to have the biggest flag in Africa, while 40000 people are homeless in KwaZulu-Natal due to the flood disaster.

There is no sense of urgency or appreciation for the crisis we are in. At Davos, we will scout for medium to long-term investment, but we will take a crippling loan if nothing comes up. That's how desperate we have become.

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The ANC ministers do not appear to have the capacity to lead us out of this crisis. As I look across the various directors-general, I know that there are some highly competent DGs.

But some of them are under a minister's leadership whose skill sets are not on par with their DG’s intelligence. Some of our DGs are deliberately performing roles way under their intellectual competencies. Were they to be led by better ministers, they would be able to unleash their capacity to transform the face of government.

The ANC ministers keep looking important. But they are going off the radar of significance at the speed of light. The gravitas of leadership carried by Mandela, Sisulu and Mbeki is no more. Other than the entitled and the loyalists, no one listens to these ministers anymore.

We can see the party and its ministers. But we cannot see the leaders. The decimation of ANC leadership has been catastrophic. We now have television gaffe after television gaffe whenever a government minister takes to the podium.

I remember February 11, 1990. I looked towards the City Hall on Saturday morning at 7am. I saw Madiba's statute. And I felt this incredible sadness about the height of leadership from whence we've fallen.

* Lorenzo A Davids.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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