This blog reflects on life at work at comments on the latest news that shapes my 9-5 working day in a Corporate Communications consultancy.

About Me

I am a born and bred South African who has always loved to read and write. As a child my mother used to read to me and my siblings, from classics like the “Lord of the Rings” but later also from her own stories. She would write children’s stories and then use us as her test audience, but I loved to hear what she had written long after my siblings had tired of it. So I grew up in an environment of reading and writing, which inspired my love of these things. I hope to write a great book some day, and have learnt first hand the determination and will that it takes. My love of English inspired me to continue my study of it at university. I majored in Law and English in a BA degree at UCT where I found that I took to English much more than law. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and the development of our liberal Constitution, which increasingly made me committed to the hope this country has for the future. Ideally, I’d like to find myself in a job where I am able to write; that allows a good mix of time spent with people and being able to work on my own.

Sunday, 06 May 2007

Jacob Zuma: A great African Leader?

Fiona Macdonald’s session (Fiona Macdonald consulting) encouraged us to think more broadly about the concept of leadership and the need to develop a model that focuses on Africa. In our discussion, the topic of Jacob Zuma came up. There are many ideas about why he would or wouldn’t make a good president. Some think he is inadequate because of his lack of education. But there are many leaders who are not highly educated and still were successful. And in his time as a political prisoner on Robben Island, Zuma studied and learnt from his fellow prisoners, suggesting that he is self-motivated and disciplined. Another reason people site is that it will be bad news to have a president who has been involved in rape and corruption trails and who mobilised his supporters by singing, “Bring me my machine gun”. Many say that the day Zuma rules will be the day they leave the country.

Fiona’s theory is that Zuma’s presidency will be a bad idea, as he does not have a followership as a leader- he hasn’t earned the respect of a sufficient number of people who will stand behind him. We know from the thousands of people who gathered outside the courtroom during his rape trial last year that he does have a large following of supporters. But there are an equal number of people who do not support him. In the 21-22nd April edition, the Weekender carried an article on the possible candidates for presidency (www.businessday.co.za/Articles/TarkArticle.aspx?ID=2658448). It said that the ANC was divided on the issue of Zuma, and where he to be voted into leadership the party may reach a deadlock. Similarly, South Africa would become a country split down the middle, rather than a unified rainbow nation. The article identified three “compromise candidates”, Kgamela Motlanthe, the ANC’s secretary-general, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Foreign affairs minister, and Joel Netshitenzhe, the “perhaps government policy chief”.

The issue of who our next president will be is an extremely contentious one, and I thought Fiona’s theory of followership provided an interesting new way to consider the increasing debate around what makes a good leader.

6 comments:

themba nyauza said...

Hi, Susan. I am happy that you have brought up the issue of Jacob Zuma in your discussion. I am of the view that the question of Zuma's illiteracy is unfair and unjustified. Great leadership does not lie in the fact that one had acquired academic credentials. It lies in the fact that people believe that you can take them forward. I believe that supporters of Zuma see in him a leader who can advance their cause. In this regard the poor of this country see in Zuma a President who will advance pro – poor social programs.

Be that as it may, I don’t believe that Zuma is fit to lead this country. This is because he tends to promote a popular kind of politicking that tends to be dangerous. His questioning of the credibility of State organs like the NPA is quite telling. Because of his leadership style you had respected institutions like the Judiciary coming under heavy criticism, that the Judiciary was pushing certain agenda. This is dangerous for a country like South Africa where democracy is not yet fully entrenched. To be quite honest Zuma’s leadership would amount to what in the political circles is known as the “dictatorship of the majority”. He has also attacked the media of bias in reporting against him. As I value freedom of speech than anything else I believe that Zuma’s leadership will not give me that freedom.

themba nyauza said...

Hi, Susan. I am happy that you have brought up the issue of Jacob Zuma in your discussion. I am of the view that the question of Zuma's illiteracy is unfair and unjustified. Great leadership does not lie in the fact that one had acquired academic credentials. It lies in the fact that people believe that you can take them forward. I believe that supporters of Zuma see in him a leader who can advance their cause. In this regard the poor of this country see in Zuma a President who will advance pro – poor social programs.

Be that as it may, I don’t believe that Zuma is fit to lead this country. This is because he tends to promote a popular kind of politicking that tends to be dangerous. His questioning of the credibility of State organs like the NPA is quite telling. Because of his leadership style you had respected institutions like the Judiciary coming under heavy criticism, that the Judiciary was pushing certain agenda. This is dangerous for a country like South Africa where democracy is not yet fully entrenched. To be quite honest Zuma’s leadership would amount to what in the political circles is known as the “dictatorship of the majority”. He has also attacked the media of bias in reporting against him. As I value freedom of speech than anything else I believe that Zuma’s leadership will not give me that freedom.

Thomas Blaser said...

I was a bit surprised by Fiona's argumentation. Zuma disqualified himself as a leader because he cannot manage his own finances, he associates with strange 'business' people and practices, he sees women as a sort of "prize" and resource for the valiant fighter and he displayed appaling thinking on HIV/AIDS. So it is also that he would be very divisive, but it is also for moral and political reasons that we have to reject a Zuma presidency.

Susan Arthur said...

Thanks Thomas and Themba for your comments.
I was happy to be able to spark some debate in my blog. The Zuma issue is extremely controversial and it's nice to hear some views on it. Fiona's take offered a different perspective on the debate.

Fiona McDonald said...

I would like to respond to Thomas' comment. While I agree with your argument, Thomas, on the reasons why Zuma would not make a good and effective president, it also talks to the fact that he has no followership. All the comments that you make lead to exactly this point - if people do not agree with some of his thoughts, practices and values, he has no followership. I completely agree with your argument. Most of our debate focussed on whether one needed qualifications to be a President. I don't believe you need these - but you do need people to support you, trust you and believe in you if you want to succeed as a president! Thanks for your input!

Adam N. Mukendi said...

Hi Sue,
M'shini wam..M'shini wam. I think Zuma tried to use another wapon. Remember that Fiona talk about the need spirituality in nowadays leaders. He heard may be her call as he was consacreted "Pastor". But I wasn't suprise by the deny of the member of the community which consacrated him. Don't worry, this is not his last carte. He still to play others. Don't forget that 90% of African leader are from the same generation. Their mind is not about delivery but about the matter of repositionment.