The ANC’s leaders have reached their sell-by date

A gentleman from the Democratic Alliance said people will lose faith in the ANC – if they have not already done so. The DA wants people to lose faith in the ANC. It is expected that they will say so even when it is not the case. This does not make the DA unique. The role of opposition parties all over the world is to say that whatever a ruling party does is bad and is not working. They criticise each other out of power. They will discredit each other over identical policies. So the DA’s view is not alarming.

What is true, though, is that people might lose faith in the leadership of the party, not the party itself. That is the only thing that would drive them away. Some will argue and say that a party is its leadership.

A party, in fact, is its principles and its values. The character of a party might transform because of those who lead it. The values and principles remain on paper even if the leadership does not.

The character of the ANC today is different from the time when Thabo Mbeki led it.

In his book The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli writes about what it takes to get a people united under its leaders, and that it sometimes takes the virtues of one man. Consequently, the demise of a nation’s morals can be the result of one man.

Machiavelli goes on to write that “they become emboldened to make new attempts against the government, and to speak ill of it, and therefore it is necessary to provide against this, by bringing the government back to its first principles. Such a return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man, without depending upon any law that incites him to the infliction of extreme punishments; and yet his good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.”

We saw DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema bekhwela bezihlela kuZuma [they were all over him], as they say in isiXhosa.

Just as Machiavelli put it, “they become emboldened … to speak ill …” We saw the president being subjected to stinging words.

Maimane said: “We have allowed one powerful man to get away with too much for far too long.”

“You broke Parliament.”

“You, Mr President, are not an honourable man.”

“You are a broken man presiding over a broken society.”

Malema said: “You use hooliganism to silence the opposition.”

The DA is grooming its young; the ANC isn’t.

We know that the DA does not want the ANC to return to its first principles. If it does, the DA will stall. The ANC in turn keeps making the worst strategic mistakes. Had the ANC only had a majority in the low 50%, it would pay dearly for all these weekly own goals.

No matter who is at the party’s helm, as long as that person is in the ANC, the DA will find fault. The role is not to please the DA but to serve the country.

What the DA is doing excellently is groom young leaders and thrust them into the spotlight. They are well trained. For ill or good, they are very well trained and they sound as though they know what they are talking about. The ANC insists on pushing old people on us when its future lies with its younger members.

The ANC needs to steal the DA’s strategy and empower and train young leaders for the national stage, so that when people look at them they can say: “The ANC may be like this now, but the future is bright.”

The young lioness, ANC MP Thandi Mahambehlala, who went toe-to-toe with the DA and the EFF, impressed me. There was also Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel’s speech, which should have been the State of Nation address because it was full of substance.

When the ANC returns to its first principles, the DA, the EFF, the Congress of the People and other parties will lose their lustre because their campaigns are about Zuma. Here is an unpopular thing to say: Zuma is the ANC’s weakest link and easiest target and these parties will continue to pummel him, hoping to chip away at the ANC.

There needs to be a wholesale removal of a certain generation of leaders in the ANC. There should be no such thing as “our turn”. The times demand a younger, more energetic generation to lead this movement to its best era yet. The old guys are taking the movement backwards.

There are some strong leaders in their 40s and 50s who can move the party and the country forward. This generation should be leading us. The older guys have reached their sell-by date. They should remain as mentors for the young lions. The longer the old stay in leadership, the more their mind-set will infect the young. The majority of South Africans are young people. It is a no-brainer.

We are not getting the best leaders available to the ANC right now. The party has a wealth of leaders; unfortunately these people are not visible. All I am hoping for is that they are biding their time and will draw the ANC from the self-created precipice.

People need to see the future of the ANC in its young, vibrant and intelligent leaders. Let people believe in a bright future, not in the gloom of the present.

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