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SA’s leadership is missing in action

Confronted with the reality of femicide and xenophobia, the president quietly retreated instead of providing direction.
Day one of the World Economic Forum on Africa highlighted the astounding failure of the ANC to understand the effects of politics on economic realities. Image: Bloomberg

Once upon a time, the new democratic South Africa had leadership and was starting to be recognised as country rebuilding itself from a horrid past. Its domestic policies, however imperfect, were on course to bettering pre-existing and inherited conditions. The young democratic nation, despite its education and healthcare shortcomings, was instilling hope in the international community. Africa was looking at one of its own with a sense of pride for having overcome so much.

Last week revealed the divisions in South Africa that cannot be contained anymore; a violent nation that has intolerance built into its system. This is the most dangerous place to be if you are a woman, worse still if you are black, from elswewhere in Africa, and a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

Last week also revealed the country’s leadership to be missing in action. President Cyril Ramaphosa appears to be like a deer caught in the headlights. Faced with the femicide and xenophobic violence crises, he quietly retreated instead of providing leadership. In the vacuum he created, his ministers took to social media and did more harm than good.


Its inaction and inability to steady the ship that we, and the world, saw in the media revealed a disconcerting fact about the current administration: South Africa’s leadership is missing in action. When it was momentarily found, it gave the impression of being embarrassed, especially since the showdown happened alongside the World Economic Forum in Africa gathering that took place in Cape Town.

The party faithful and government leaders dislike being told – and given evidence – that their party politics are ruining whatever chance of recovery South Africa has and that there are no longer leaders in their party. The political dream, so clear during the struggle for liberation, has turned into a nightmare that has catapulted our leaders into a crisis of their own, and an economic crisis for the country.

At the heart of the spreading criminality and violence against fellow Africans lie far more sinister reasons than xenophobia. While we cannot fully explain the reasons, we can sift through the social reality that drives the individual to take such action.

I therefore wonder – can the economic conditions of those who attack and loot shops owned by other Africans be used to understand the criminal and violent means used? If that is the case, are we saying that economic conditions shape the individual’s behaviour to be violent only towards a specific part of society? Or are these rifts between what can be understood as subgroups incidental to the country’s rising inequality, unemployment and poverty?

Swimming in wealth and comfort

Could the reason be the widening gulf between the political elite and the ordinary South African? For while the politicians continue to let out a flood of political rhetoric about the dangers of white monopoly capital (WMC) and the abhorrent nature of capitalism, they themselves are swimming in a golden pond of wealth and comfort, bestowed on them by that which they claim to abhor.

Current and former activists are flying high with golden parachutes provided by business deals, feasting on banquets of money made or acquired from the WMC they tell ordinary people to hate and reject.

Ironically, the country’s president is a beneficiary of such black economic empowerment deals and was presented to the public by the media as a leader who has wealth and would not steal from the poor. Eighteen months later, he may not be stealing from the poor, but he has illustrated how a leader’s indifference can be equally as harmful.

There is every prospect that South Africa’s economy will continue to underperform in Ramaphosa’s New Dawn administration. The astounding failure of the ANC to understand the effects of politics on economic realities cannot be justified or sustained anymore. The party has been in government long enough to have learned from its mistakes, shortcomings and examples of bad policies.

After last week, South Africa’s real problem is clear: the country no longer has leaders who can take it forward.

Yes, while the economic conditions of the individual within a class can result in bad choices and even criminality, the importance of the current catastrophes is – you guessed it – economic.

Although it’s not that straightforward. The inequalities in the economy are structural and rooted in how this particular economy was founded; it ties in to German sociologist Max Weber’s argument that modern economic expansion came with bureaucracy that, once established, can’t be undone.

Therefore, to transform the nature of South Africa’s economy will almost always be impossible.

What is currently happening is an enormous test of the interface between economics and politics, in a country where the ruling party is running the state on socialist economic-leaning policies. Importantly, it is a test for those leading the state to prioritise the party politics of appeasement, conflict and differing political positions, or to put the country first.

Faced with these difficult choices, not only has Ramaphosa proved unable to decide, he appears to want to please everyone. Effectively, faced with a tough decision, South Africa’s leadership decided to go AWOL.

Without leadership, chaos reigns, society crumbles and people perish.



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Now for the facts. In South Africa about 5.5 men get murdered for every woman. About 2.5 boys get murdered for every girl. This protest movement has its origin in left wing politics. Find a divide in society (sexes) and drive a wedge between it.

What a stupid comment. Men kill each other. Men also kill women.

a stupid comment you say? well your comment says everything about yourself. Since incompetence fails to recognise both competence and incompetence, you may be underestimating Richardthe Great and overestimating yourself.

I thought he made a significant comment, although it does not fit the leftist victimhood narrative.

It was a perfectly valid comment.

The protests are about “femicide” which is “the killing of a female because she is female”

Men kill women, women kill men, men kill children, women kill children.
All the killing is a symptom of a sick society where violence is perpetrated by the stronger on the weaker, because they can.
Violence comes in many forms, physical and emotional/mental and is equally destructive.
In our society killing just seems so easy.

@QO1942, yes sure.

Yet when these half brains so often apply stats to a select narrative that is contrived.

When stats get really analysed and problem features or “societies” are identified then the answer is unpalatable and generalized themes like “men are killers” are produced.

Please, “our society” fortunately does not include “my society”..

This is the insanity of leftwing politics. Those who do actually condemn these acts of violence, those individuals who address the real issues, are persecuted by those who they are trying to protect. Judge Mable Jansen was a crusader against violence against women and children and she was forced to resign because she was “politically incorrect” although she was factually correct.

This epitomises that wonderful saying: there are lies, damned lies and statistics …. and insentive attitudes to women.

I find this type of writing oddly encouraging. It seems perverse given its content and focus and I can imagine the negative comments to follow below; however it’s also realistic and to the point. This is where the hard questions and introspection should indeed start, even as I remain sceptical overall.

Granted, there are generalisations in it that gloss over some aspects but I’m willing to either put them down to either editorial requirements e.g. limits on number of words or focus, or unwitting adherence to socio-political dogma I find is so rooted in the SA socio-political psyche as compared to other countries e.g. indirectly insinuating that the elitist disconnect is due to politicians hypocrisy over capitalism when corruption and rent seeking is a simpler and more likely explanation given productive capital’s flight from SA.

I am not adverse to the writer quoting Marx even while I myself am a capitalist as there has been some validity in some of his writings. However, again, in the SA context I do wonder if too many lay readers by default reach for Marx and socialist canon in their thinking much like many a religious zealots reaches for scriptures from some vague divine figure in times of turmoil, thus inferring the wrong meaning and solutions to problems.

Still, it’s one of the more transparent pieces that realise things are not well with the so called New Dawn under Ramaphosa, which many in other media outlets are loathe to admit.

Whether that’s because those fear fear the other options (Zuma-ites, Malema, etc), but just won’t say it; are themselves welded to set thinking that is no longer working, or just wear the proverbial rose tinted glasses that have their own mental reality painted on the lenses remains to be seen.

At least though this writer has escaped that bog of thinking and more need to do so to follow them out of that morass.

Buddy Walker, the author does not make any reference to Marx whatsoever. He refers to Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (“Max Weber”), a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist who died in 1920. Is that a bit of red phobia on the horizon?

Weber could perhaps be described as a social democrat- “he proposed that ascetic Protestantism was one of the major “elective affinities” associated with the rise in the Western world of market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state.

He argued that it was in the basic tenets of Protestantism to boost capitalism. Thus, it can be said that the spirit of capitalism is inherent to Protestant religious values.

Against Marx’s historical materialism, Weber emphasised the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism”…

Perhaps he is some “vague divine figure”. but he remains one of the front “deep thinkers” around modern economic philosophy and political science. So does Marx actually, aside from the intense propaganda and social phobia spewed from some quarters.

Politics is an imperfect science. It cannot be eaten and it does not burn very well. Solutions to these problems require innovations and leadership from a very broad and diverse range of individuals in our society.

The underlying diversity and development of a budding and emergent “genesis” of a (hopefully) Wakanda-type character in SA society. This calls for a wakey-wakey leadership pool for sure.

I personally do not hold my breath for plodding politicians and public servants to provide this, seems a self defeating expectation to me.

Mamokgethi Molopyane sums up bluntly….

Without leadership, chaos reigns, society crumbles and people perish

Rama… what say you?

Rama (together with his other ideologists ) : ” It’s aportheids fault “

The minister of foreign affairs used the very same excuse yesterday with the foreign SA ambassadors.

Think about it a bit and then ask yourself if the ANC were kind enough to tell the electorate during their election campaign that nothing would change and things would deteriorate as it is out of their hands and Apartheid is to blame for the mess we find ourselves in. Would they have received the same support?

I think not. Did they not run around the country telling people how they are going to fix things? Did they lie to their people?

With the political elite in the ANC it is going very well and not a single corrupt cadre has been imprisoned. This does not escape the people in this country and just looking at the top 10 causes of the French revolution I think blaming the previous regime for their inability to govern will come back and haunt them. The people will not let them off the hook.

I have a feeling their main excuse has run its cause.

Some thing has to have been there in the first place for it to go missing.

If SA was an aircraft, the flight instructor would have said “I have control” in 1995. (For flight instructor read anyone but ANC)

Without any prosecutions of the criminal elite the ANC government will soon be surprised how quickly the focus shifts to them.

Everybody knows the criminal justice system is not functioning any longer and history is littered with examples of how “the people” wont eat cake.

They are playing with the tigers, well you know what I mean. Once it starts they wont stop it.

It’s already started.

We were so desperate after Zuma that Ramaphosa seemed like a dream come true. A year later he has done nothing of real substance, yes he engineered to get some really bad cronies out of the way and appointed a new public prosecutor but still no one has gone to jail and the economy is in worse shape. It appears that we overestimated Ramaphosa. We thought he understood business and economics because he was an apparently successful businessman. Now that he is espousing a socialist agenda we begin to realise that he probably knows very little about business because he had his wealth thrust upon him by BEE. He was a model beneficiary of the system that has been responsible for much of our economic decline. As for leadership, why stick his neck out, he gets his pound of flesh anyway and the ignorant voters keep voting for their oppressors.

So true! Ramaphoria replacing Zupta, was like a mere change-over of bus driver on the ANC-Bus. Still the ANC’s bus.

Then the new driver (CR) made the mistake of changing the destination-board at the top-front of bus, to read “heading EWC”!

And now no-one on the bus can understand why the engine doesn’t want to pull so well…

Excellent article young fellow. Precise and concise!!

Agree that it is a good article. Mamokgethi is not a “young fellow” however based on HER profile.

When your own culture is the problem, how are you going to change it?

SA has had much political leadership since 94 but very little national leadership.

Governing was never the first priority of the ANC, putting party interests first and staying on the gravy train is.

I think every event that happens in this country now is either orchestrated by Zuma, Ace and the State Capture crowd or blown up by them, to make CR look bad.

This includes the femicide, xenophobia, trains and trucks set on fire, libraries burned at two in the morning, and selected protests and criminal killings.

The ANC is at war with itself. The good news is that prosecution preparation against the State Capturers is progressing well.

How about some practical support for women and girls. If a woman is threatened there are few shelters she can go to. For a small budget big stores could train a staff member to assist women in need and arange transport to a company sponsored shelter.
Knowing help is on hand would be very helpful.

The ANC and EFF is wrong about WMC.

Black people have benefitted from WMC since inception. Their savings, pensions and provident fund monies were pooled at the PIC, Sanlams and Mutuals and invested in the best companies, that constitute WMC. Companies like Anglo, Rembrandt, Richemont, Barlows and many others.

Also, black people could buy shares directly on the JSE in these top WMC companies. The ANC and EFF should rather explain to black people why they are against black people making progress.

iMO, these xenophobia attacks were triggered by Herman Mashaba who raided the stalls of foreign traders in Johannesburg, where the police went on a looting spree.

Given this green light, hostel dwellers decided to get in on the act and join in the fun.

So our leadership secretly endorses the xenophobia – just as it will embrace any excuse for its own failures and shortcomings.

Mugabe is our template and white property is probably the next in line.

As usual, the DA got a free pass on this one.

The DA were instrumental in fanning xenophobia in their (disastrous) election run-up.

“White property” has been on the line for decades -check how much you pay for insurance and home security.

The irony of living in a society where everyone is legally equal is that inequality is even more stark. The rage and dismay is not about percentages but about a status quo that allows the strong to prey on the weak.

Mamokgethi, you are so right. Leadership is missing. In the quest to discredit the past, they missed the future. We can all criticize the past. Most of our leaders are still at that phase of their mindset. Zuma got stuck there 25 years ago. We cannot change the past. We need leadership to take the here and now, be brave, make the unpopular but necessary decisions and drive towards growth. Growth will give all a bit more space in the sun and more money in the pocket.Let’s stop the focus on the past, accept the current, take hands across all the lines in the country and make this grow for the sake of all.

It is time that most opposition parties come together, put aside their agendas and big monthly salaries and put South Africa first. After all they live here with their kids in private schools. Until the ANC have a strong opposition that could unseat them they will continue on this road of self enrichment and the corrupt causing chaos Zuma, Ace to stay out of jail. They do not care where this beautiful country is now. As for the opposition you all suck including the DA and you Julius. Stop focussing on White Capital and focus on your Black Brothers in the ANC.


The only people who care about not having another pointless sound bite from a politician are the journalists.

It’s got nothing to do with socialism; it’s got to do with Ramaphosa’s personality; a nice guy, but weak kneed.

Neither has the violence to do with economics; it has to do with a deeply ingrained mentality that glorifies violence, going as far back as Shaka Zulu. A real man, in Zulu culture, should not fear spilling blood.

Apartheid didn’t help either. The fact that the people who brought you ‘civilisation’ were cruel to you, makes you think cruelty has to do with being civilised. South Africans feels superior when they terrorise Africans from other parts. To be truly free requires freedom from enslavement of the mind as well.

Now watch the next phase – faction wars – isiXhosa vs isiZulu vs seSotho vs Tswana vs Sepedi vs Satan. Let the fun begin, I’ve seen it as a youngster growing up on the Free State goldfields. Ruthless, murderous, merciless. PW Botha has warned against it, I saw a clip of it circulating the other day. All the other cANCer guavamund challenges are going to be fade in comparison. And with it, SA. Cry the beloved country.

End of comments.


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