Leadership makes the difference

September 2012 News & Events

At the time of writing, one could say it has been an interesting month. Striking miners attacked the police, causing serious injuries and fatalities for some cops. Then they did it again and more than 10 attackers were killed in the ensuing gunfire. Then a another group of miners was apparently killed while fleeing the police, and it seems as if they were killed in cold blood as some sort of revenge.

Sitting and watching the news makes it impossible for us to know what exactly happened, but over 30 deaths does not seem to be enough to make everyone sit back and think about what happened and why. There are still threats of violence and shenanigans, perhaps related to an ’alternative union’.

Who knows if the truth will ever emerge? But I suspect the end result will see the police getting the blame irrespective of what led to the killings.

This whole strike has been an insightful time to observe the media in action. As behoves the liberal media, the newspapers, almost as one, regurgitated information as to the miners’ plight, even the ‘fact’ that some miners were getting less than R4000 per month – which would be a good reason to be unhappy.

Then it turns out, those media outlets were simply copying and pasting and the real wages were double, or more than double the reported amount. Yet, nobody seems to think that requires an apology, and especially not an investigation into who provided the figures and why they were not verified.

I am studying for a business qualification at the moment and one of the courses I am currently on deals with leadership: are you born a leader or can you be trained to be one, or is it a bit of both? The answer depends on what or whom you are reading, but what is certain is that leadership makes a difference in every situation. Good leadership gets results. Bad leadership also gets results, but always of the negative kind.

Where is the leadership in this situation? Did the police not see it coming? Were the unions determined to escalate the situation to this extent? What was the leadership of the mine doing? This did not happen out of the blue, how come the media only got so self-righteous after people died? Where were the political leaders? Watching Rome burn so they could grab a few mining shares? Or maybe we can blame it on South Africa’s infamous Third Force, which is always a violent gang associated with whoever you do not like?

Looking at South Africa, the country started its democratic journey with a great leader. Whether he was born with it, learned it or it just happened to occur is irrelevant, the results were positive. Sadly, since he retired, we have been lumbered with bad leaders more concerned with feathering their own nests than creating a positive legacy that will outlive them. And this bad leadership is seen in both the political and business worlds.

A recent headline read, ‘R675bn lost to graft since 1994’. How many houses could that build? How many productive farms could that fund? How many jobs could that create? Even with Eskom’s ineptitude, how much electricity could that generate and how many more houses could be connected to the grid? How many people could have access to clean, drinkable water?

Maybe it is time South Africans stop worrying about whether Woolworths is a big meanie and start focusing on finding and empowering good leaders in all aspects of society who can see beyond their own bank accounts.

Andrew Seldon – Editor


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