“Economically, there must be a deliberate policy, as a matter of top priority, to awaken the people, especially government and party functionaries to the objective of serving the masses through the rapid development of the material and technical basis for socialist construction.Finally, it is obvious that a socialist development strategy, being scientifically conceived, requires strict discipline its its implementation.” – A.M. Babu, Development Strategy, REvolutionary Style
In the beginning of my essay writing ‘career’, I titled my article “The People Need A Leader”.In hindsight, what it should have suggested is that The People Are The Leaders. While taking into account the role of institutions such as governments and other bureaucratic entities, including traditional leadership, the essential ingredient for prosperity and peace, should be Self Reliant, Educated and Active Citizenship. Many have lamented the lack of leadership, but I have suggested before that this is a misdiagnosis. We do not lack good leaders, what is missing is DISCIPLINE as well as properly constituted Social relations – a Unity of Purpose as Black Power activist Kwame Toure has called it. Yet, how can a people discover its collective purpose when they are busy trying to assimilate into a social and economic system that was built to exclude them and use them as mere slaves?
It is now more than 15 years since my first essay written for some local newspaper and it is saddening to admit that not much has changed. South Afrika has seen 3 state presidents, and they have done what they can to help or curb development. While I do not believe that leadership of society should only be expected from the political class only, it is incumbent upon them as public servants to simply do that – serve. The unfortunate reality in Afrika is that leaders merely serve rhetorically, much of their time is spent either travelling, making speeches and cutting ribbons. For just doing their official jobs and mostly shabbily so, our leaders expect not just rewards, but the most loyal praise. It has been more than 60 years since the first Afrikan country was gained independence,mountains of papers and fervent speeches have been made and we have a large pantheon of national heroes, patriots and martyres yet it does not take much to see that Afrikans are largely unfree, our education system is languishing in colonial limbo despite of the many gains.When we formed the Economic Freedom Fighters as Black Consciousness/Pan Afrikanist activists, we asked WHAT IS TO BE DONE, but instead on concentrating more efforts into our policies and grassroots development we saw leaders from within and from other parties jostling for power, intellectual supremacy as well as loyalty.
Corruption at an alarming scale still grips and cripples most Afrikan countries, while it’s common face may be Black, it is clear that there are enablers and instigators that are also White, foreign and just as hostile as our own Big Men.That hostility eats away at most democratic as well as cultural institutions, making them unable to function according to agreed upon social contracts, such as constitutions and legislations. The cancer of corruption is just one of the plethora of troubles that plague Afrikan countries, the other one is what we have already alluded to – LEADERSHIP deficit. This is not a question of a lack of individuals who are committed and willing, it is also not a romantic call for heroic saviors, we have seen many of those murdered and others have been co-opted into the corrosive system that promotes graft and other social ills.
These days even as investigations into illicit capital outflows, where Afrikan resources are being looted by every other country in the name of cooperative development, property ownership and loans, the call for a wiser ‘class’ of leaders has grown even louder. Who Will Lead this lost and languishing people?
I am sharing this article as it deals with some of the issues while also offering ways forward.