IN BLACK & WHITE | Gerhard van Rensburg
to stand together for a new cause. To strengthen cohesion in the nation and make progress with transformation , the articulation of a compelling vision for all by the country’s leader(s) and a show of moral character are more important than anything else. Hard work and improved competence will follow if people are convinced that the country is moving in the right direction and that its leadership can be trusted. In its absence, people fall back on old, race-based positions and much-needed positive energy is lost.
Not only in politics, but also in leadership in general, there are lessons to be learnt about the need to balance the striving and ambition for power and control with the openness and adaptability to new scenarios and the role of an enabler. Can freedom fighters change their line of thinking from the struggle-to-get-to-power-mind-set to a developmental, entrepreneurial, open and collaborating one? Can they distinguish between legitimate expectations of what new-found freedom offers in opportunities to develop and lay the right foundation for future generations, and the temptations of, at last, being in power?
The test for leaders is to adapt quickly to new and very different challenges as new chapters in the history of the country, a sector of society, an industry or an organisation unfold. This often requires much more than tactical shifts. It requires re-envisioning the future from a different platform. In the leader’s mind, it can mean an almost complete break from many of his or her ideas, sentiments and ways of doing things in the past. In the interconnected 21st-century world, the combination of adaptability and adhering to high standards of execution is critical.
Anyone with a little bit of experience or interest in South Africa knows that inequality is an immense challenge. With the description ‘ticking time bombs’ for the upwelling frustrations and anger of ordinary people about their living conditions, courageous and decisive leadership is needed. Nothing is as important to the sense of self-worth of an individual as to be able to contribute to society. Job creation and entrepreneurship are crucial for the country’s prospects. The good news is the undeniable steeliness and competitiveness in so many South Africans of all races. The number of young South Africans who desperately want to move on with new paradigms of thinking, and who are less politically minded and more innovative and industrious, are growing in numbers. For them, leadership is not the position and the route to success via their connections, but what they see in themselves and the opportunities that excite them. They are aware of Africa as a growth market and of South Africa as the gateway to Africa.
The environment for entrepreneurs and small business owners is far from ideal. Compliance costs in small businesses are far too high and the procedures required to start a business far too many and cumbersome. The initiatives to stimulate entrepreneurship and self-leadership are however increasing, as are the inspirational success stories of the previously disadvantaged. The challenge to the new generation of leaders is to overcome the many obstacles, not wait on government to make life easier, and to make full use of own networks and sources of knowledge and guidance. To capitalise on their remarkable success of making a peaceful transition to a new dispensation, South Africans need to unlock their leadership ability from the bottom up with 21st century opportunities and visions in mind.
Mangaung Elective Conference:
According to the Mail and Guardian, Mangaung is the municipality in which the city of Bloemfontein is situated. The name means “Place of Leopards” or “Place of Cheetahs” in Sesotho. Bloemfontein is the home of the Cheetahs rugby team. The National Party, which governed South Africa from 1948 to 1994, was founded in Bloemfontein in 1915 by Afrikaners disaffected with the governing South African Party of General Louis Botha. Mangaung will receive an estimated 50 000 people for the African National Conference’s elective conference in 2012. President Zuma will unveil an eight-metre high statue of former president Nelson Mandela during the conference. Bloemfontein is the African National Congress was founded (as the South African Native National African Congress) in Bloemfontein in 1912.
Leadership in South Africa
As an 18-year-old democracy with 11 official languages, 4 major race groups and 46 years of apartheid, South Africa today is a complex society in need of a very special brand of leadership. It is a diverse society with many different histories, cultures, customs, beliefs and philosophical frames of reference. From a leadership perspective, some of the complexities, frustrations, challenges and strengths can be seen in the following:
In the political and public-service domain, the many stories of corruption reflect very negatively on the current leadership. Abuse of power for personal gain is diametrically opposed to the principles of leadership, and, currently, it undermines the credibility of those who are supposed to serve the people of the country. It would appear that the spirit of materialism and personal gain replaced the spirit of ubuntu (sharing and community) once the struggle for political freedom was over. Perhaps it is a case of ‘the family’ that does not need to stand together for the liberation cause as in the past. Indeed, it is now a new nation that needs