Picture by Bafana Mahlangu for Sunday World
In the wake of the Lonmin massacre, South African political “leaders” came crawling out the woodwork, just as predictably as the tow trucks arrive as soon as there is a car accident.
They slithered out of their luxury sedans, surrounded by bodyguards, prepping their insincere, disingenuous speeches on their iPads, breathing in the desperation and tragedy that surrounded them thinking only one thing: good time to earn brownie points and point fingers at my enemies.
Of course there will be an investigation. Probably with a dedicated paid team, which will then have a sub-committee, which will then hold endless meetings without coming to any conclusion that will bring back the dead or even prevent something similar from happening in the future.
Where are our leaders? Where are our voices of reason who can guide us through the difficult political, social and economic times? They do not have to be any particular race, religion or speak any specific language, but they need to have the needs of the entire country as their main focus. I would argue that there is not one single leader in SA at the moment that has our best interests at heart and is willing to act to make them so.
We are now sitting with “leaders” who prioritise making profits off tenders over delivering textbooks. “Leaders” who have kept at one point three corrupt police chiefs employed while they exhaust the legal system with endless retrials and legal challenges.
Perhaps the reason the whole country idolises Madiba to the point of deification is because we have no one to look up to after he’s gone. While no one ever had to reach the standard he set, the fact that no one has even come close is a sad prospect for the youth of our country.
Last week Friday, thought leaders came together for the Ruth First memorial lecture. Not one, ANC-inclined included, praised the wonderful, strong leadership in our country. In fact, a lot of discussion revolved around where it even was.
As university students we have an incredibly important role in our country’s future, and if no one from the generation above us is going to take the mantle of balanced, controlled, and inspired leadership, we will have to mould into them ourselves without any guidance.
This week we will have a new SRC. Let us hold them up to the standard we expect from our country’s leadership. Hopefully they will turn into the kinds of leaders we can be proud of who will lead us into a future where political mileage isn’t gained out of tragedy.