Leaders like Manamela must learn from class of '76

At last the judges have spoken out against the public vitriol levelled against the judiciary by politicians.

At last the judges have spoken out against the public vitriol levelled against the judiciary by politicians.

Chief Justice Pius Langa and Judge Albie Sachs this week told politicians to leave them alone - because personal attacks on judges would weaken the country's judiciary and therefore democracy.

As if their complaints hit a tin roof, Buti Manamela of the Young Communist League retorted by further insulting judges.

Manamela said: "Some of the judges think they descended from heaven and on to the bench."

Judge Langa's deputy Dikgang Moseneke was himself called a drunk by the ANC's allies, the South African Students Congress and the Congress of South African Students.

Langa said: "I don't think anyone should be called a drunk or counter-revolutionary.

"People need to have regard for the institution itself, especially people in leadership roles because what they say impacts on others."

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has referred to judges as counter-revolutionaries when their rulings were not favourable to the party president Jacob Zuma.

I doubt if Manamela understands politics or if he is indeed a politician. If he was one he would understand that politicians know the law.

Only little pip-squeaks and upstarts will get on top of soap boxes and insult custodians of the law.

Lettered people, I mean those who understand issues and constantly refer to authority - by reading - will know that a judge is trained to apply his mind when making a ruling.

In this country we have a constitution that is hailed as one of the best, if not the most progressive, in the world. It protects people like us, Manamela, his comrades and indeed even criminals.

I wonder if Manamela is aware that it is this guaranteed freedom of speech that he is using to insult people to whom he runs when needs be.

Any organisation in a democracy has structures. Fortunately the ANC alliance acknowledges this.

That is why there are spokesmen, people who are entrusted with articulating the position of organisations.

So not everybody should be allowed to willy-nilly speak on behalf of a political party. I say this because characters such as Manamela and his ilk not only hurt their principals but they embarrass the country and themselves in the process. So Manamela and those like him must not be allowed to speak without a script.

It would not be nice when Manamela's grandchildren one day tell him, very politely, that he used to say stupid things as a young man.

"Rakgolo, how could you insult a judge? Did you not think that it was not wise to do so?" I can imagine how red-faced Rakgolo Manamela would be as the wide-eyed grandchild awaited a reply.

The moral here is that what we do now as young leaders, that is if Manamela is one, will follow us in history.

We must not forget that there is a legacy that we leave our children when our ancestors recall us.

Lest I be unfair to Manamela, as a young person he emulates his heroes.

If Mantashe can call a judge a counter-revolutionary, what can stop him and his comrades in Cosas and Sasco calling the justices of our country unsavoury names?

I think these so-called young leaders must take a leaf from the book of the Class of '76.

Those were young leaders of substance who today deservedly occupy positions in government and business.