School your politician or face the fallout


They grow up so fast. One day you’re asking them to set a better example and, before you know it, you’re dropping them off in suburbia to get leadership lessons from an old-timer.

Not that that’s even necessary these days. A new trend among millennial voters is to send their politicians to a top school of thought – somewhere with a more current approach – and drop the leadership lessons altogether. The thinking being, by saving on extra tuition, you’ll be able to afford the cost of a better school. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to cancel therapy too, at which point it really starts to make sense.

I have a friend who wants to put her politician in a better school. She tells me it’s the only thing to do because the politician, well, he’s not coping. His electorate even wrote to her, saying he seems detached and uninterested. Apparently he likes to do his own thing.

The electorate said it appears the politician missed out on what she called “crucial development phases”.

Obviously my friend immediately watched a TED talk on the subject, which revealed there are three major stages every politician must go through to adapt to public life.

First up is the Piaget Stage, characterised by concrete operational development. During this stage the politician should learn to interrupt the speaker of the House by screaming over her and get into the habit of swindling money.

After this stage, Bruner’s Mentalities rolls around – by which time the politician would have survived a major scandal. Bruner’s Mentalities also instils values such as nepotism and egoism.

Finally, the politician will go through Kay’s Interface Design. Here wisdom is fostered and basic human traits such as compassion and love take root. Politicians seldom reach this stage. According to TED, Kay’s Interface Design is considered something of a holy grail, mostly forged during times of war or, regrettably, long after retirement.

TED says at least two development stages are required for a politician to adapt, otherwise they might turn to corruption or become dependent on power to sustain their careers. And that’s a no-win situation for everyone. Politicians with corruption problems can affect as many as eight million people around them.

The best thing to do with a politician in this state is to let them make the decision to help themselves. Detach with love, as they say. That could be hard on voters because politicians invariably bring themselves to the brink of destruction.

In most cases the politician becomes so obsessed with power and corruption, the only sane thing to do is chain them and spray them with cold water. But not even that is guaranteed to have any effect.

Eventually, the politician will succumb to their obsession and end up in prison or an institution, which, under the circumstances, is the best outcome for everyone involved.

It’s an outcome that could have been avoided had the politician been enrolled in the right school of thought right from the very start.

Hansie Smit is a freelance writer

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Ramaphosa asks all South Africans to help to avoid 50...

Calling this ‘the gravest crisis in the history of our democracy’, the president said level three lockdown remains, but enforcement will be strengthened

Reinstated Ingonyama Trust managers hit with retrenchment notices

The effect of Covid-19 and the land reform department’s freeze of R23-million because the ITB didn’t comply with budget submissions are cited as some of the reasons for the staff cuts

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday