Residents clean up after residents went on a rampage, looting shops at -Protea Glen Mall in Soweto. Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Residents clean up after residents went on a rampage, looting shops at -Protea Glen Mall in Soweto. Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Ramaphosa failed to show leadership during unrest

By Opinion Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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By Kenneth Mokgatlhe

South Africa’s government has yet again failed to showcase a vibrant and brave leadership during the ongoing pandemonium in some parts of the country, mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

President Cyril Ramaphosa continues to believe that his monologue press conferences sufficiently deal with societal problems. His press conferences are not different from a church setting where the preacher would say anything he wants to say without taking any questions or criticism from the audience. We should take what is being said.

Ramaphosa missed an opportunity to showcase the leadership qualities that he is reputed to have from his days in the unions. He failed to go to the ground to see what was happening so that he could get the picture of what was happening as well as engage with the victims of this mobocracy shown by looters.

Ramaphosa should draw inspiration from Oliver Reginald Tambo and Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. These two leaders were never out of touch with their people, they knew and understood that they amounted to nothing without their people.

Oliver Tambo would sleep in the same blankets used by MK combatants without any shame. He wanted to understand the hardships of his comrades. He would also cook and do other things that his comrades were doing and never wanted to be treated like a demigod.

Sobukwe, on the other hand, used a lower class train to travel from Johannesburg to Mofolo; he did not buy a car even when he could afford it because he believed that he was not supposed to lose touch with his people.

The people who are looting the shops and burning property are supposedly members of society who go to church; this simply means that the religious leaders have some influence over many people in society.

Where is the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa)? Contralesa claims to have influence over its subjects. Is that even true by the look of things? Certainly not — Contralesa is used as another vehicle to validate or invalidate a certain faction of the ANC for its own survival. If Contralesa did exist, each chief or king should have condemned the violence that we are continuing to see in some parts of the country.

Where are political parties serving in Parliament, the provincial legislature, and the municipal council? As far as I am concerned, this is a national matter which requires a national leadership to be in unison in condemning this barbarism.

The mind that is destroyed certainly cannot be the mind which fixes; this simply means that we cannot expect the ANC, both in a party and government capacity, to undo its incompetencies. We ought to apply creative solutions to undo the ANC’s mess.

The issue of Jacob Zuma being sentenced to prison for 15 months by the highest court in the land cannot be seen as the sole reason for the anarchy that we are witnessing today. Zuma was used as an ignition to start something that was already in the hearts and minds of many people.

This offers another opportunity for the ANC to renew confidence in the people of this country; the party should not spend much of its focus on itself while neglecting the mammoth task of leading people who are not even members of that party.

*Kenneth Mokgatlhe is an independent writer and thought leader.

**Views expressed here are not of The Star or IOL.

The Star

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