Leaders with brains in the ANC are put on the sidelines and those involved in graft and other shenanigans are celebrated, a political expert has said.
Outspoken political analyst, Prof Bheki Mngomezulu, who is professor of political science and deputy dean of research at the University of the Western Cape, said citizens were aware that the ANC had brainy leaders but the party marginalises them in favour of those involved in corruption and other crimes.
He said also called for the country’s constitution to be reviewed to see if it met its original objectives or not.
Speaking during a webinar on the leadership deficit and moral decay in the country and the future of South Africa at the Worldwide Institution for Leadership and Development, hosted by the Institute’s Prof Mazwe Majola, on Wednesday, Mngomezulu said in South Africa everybody wanted to be a leader, including the corrupt and those with no leadership skills.
“One of our weaknesses in Africa is that we celebrate mediocrity. To be a leader you don’t have to kill or bribe anyone,” he said.
Illustrating his point, Mngomezulu cited the outspoken Kenyan scholar and lawyer, Prof Patrick Lumumba who said ‘in Japan a corrupt person will kill himself, in China they will kill him, in Europe they will jail you (but) in Africa the person will present himself for election.”
Mngomezulu said the ANC’s step-aside policy should be redefined so that all its member can read from the same script before it is implemented.
He was referring to the current disagreements within the ruling party over the implementation of the step-aside rule where leaders who face criminal charges must step aside until their cases are concluded.
Recently two ANC top leaders – former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and former Mpumalanga Agriculture MEC Mandla Msibi were elected into senior ANC structures despite facing charges of fraud and murder respectively.
That Msibi was forced to withdraw but Gumede remained in her new position has been interpreted as selected morality by his supporters. It is believed that the party was reluctant to act against Gumede in fear of a backlash from the “untouchable” KwaZulu-Natal province, which is notorious for violence.
Answering a direct question from Saturday Citizen, Mngomezulu, said the ANC’s unity and renewal project was not going to work. He questioned Ramaphosa’s lack of backbone as a leader.
“As a leaders you must have a backbone. I have a serious issue with the president not having a backbone,” Mngomezulu said.
It is not that people do not see that the ANC has intelligent leaders among its ranks, but they notice how those leaders are sidelined to make space for others who took bribes and committed other shenanigans.
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Many South Africans voted for the ANC because the opposition parties are too weak and provide no alternative to the ruling party. The Democratic Alliance, as the main opposition party, failed to take the opportunity presented by ANC’s internal squabbles.
“I told the DA it cannot run this if it is confined to one province. If the opposition was strong enough to take the space from the ANC, they had enough chances to take power,” he said.
The professor said he had been advocating for the country’s Constitution to be reviewed as he was of the view that as much as the Constitution was the supreme law, it needed to be reviewed to see if had achieved its objectives.
“There is policy formulation, there is policy implementation and there is policy review, and the same should happen with our Constitution. We need to ask ourselves whether our Constitution has achieved what it was supposed to achieve or not and if the answer is in the affirmative we can retain it and if the answer is no we should review it,“ Mngomezulu said.
The church and traditional leadership should also play leading roles to restore morality in the country and to correct the wrongs in society without being associated with a political party.
The expert born in Ngwavuma, KwaZulu-Natal, said as an academic and local resident in the area, he plays a role in educating the community on moral issues and against anti-social behaviour as he believed that “in bits and pieces you can help”.