Former South African president Thabo Mbeki who served two terms as ANC president, from 1997 to 2007, and national president from 1999 to 2008, painted two months back a rather gloomy picture of the country and its prospects. The official national unemployment rate is 34.5%, and the country is also the most unequal in the world with about 55.5% (30.3 million people) of the population living in poverty. Its high crime rate poses a threat to society, and according to Chris Jones, Chief researcher, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology at Stellenbosch University, the country is ripe for its own Arab Spring.
This state of affairs would be attributable to ANC politicians, who did not serve the people of South Africa, but who were rather focused on self-enrichment, and the absence of a ‘social compact – the collaboration between government, civil society organisations, communities, business and labour’, says Jones, adding that what the country needs are “transformational leaders”, who can inspire positive change in individuals and social systems to fix its problems. Such leaders must be concerned about the country’s problems and be involved in helping to fix them.
‘The best form of transformational leadership was displayed by Nelson Mandela, who envisioned the country as a “rainbow nation” and rallied almost the entire nation behind the realisation of his vision. But it faded over the years.’ On his part, the futurist Philip Spies, however, describes the new South Africa as ‘a ship that started sailing in 1994 with very good hope and direction, but froze in a pack of ice 28 years later, bringing the country’s development to a standstill. This is the product of, among other things, class, race and ethnic polarisation, alienation of communities and greed, elitist governance and corruption by privileged and favoured public servants and politicians. Sadly, too many politicians are self-serving and interested in self-enrichment. They are often far removed – literally and metaphorically – from the citizens.’
It would certainly be simplistic to draw a parallel with the socio-political conditions operating in our island. A government elected on 37% of voters has been focusing on what it perceives as its core electorate and even on the key constituency of the PM (No.8) trusting that enough regional figureheads will help carry the day elsewhere (say Nos 12, 13 & 14). Its recipe remains that of a buoyant pre-electoral budget and goodies, marketed by the national broadcaster and pro-government press, that would absorb the current pains and induce some fence-sitters to take its side, despite the long list of scandals and affairs that has characterised its impervious rule. Read More… Become a Subscriber
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 30 September 2022
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