Problem is, our leaders want to live like kings, whites

Every internal battle for power in the ruling party is basically not about the people, but who will be in a position to eat either by the ministerial handbook or by the tender

HUGH Masekela told the Sunday Times recently that as far as leadership is concerned, he loved the Scandinavian model.

In those successful Nordic countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway, Masekela says: "You never read about the head of state in the newspapers. They go to work on the bus or even walk and the country functions well."

Masekela says the problem in South Africa is that our leaders confuse inauguration with coronation. They think they are kings.

This idea of thinking one is a king leads to our leaders to regard the state and government as being there to serve them and that the people are mere servants who are used for votes and other battles for the crown.

Today the crown is the tender, because he who can influence the tender is king.

Because of our racist past, the idea of being a king or living like one is also linked to white privileges.

It was therefore not surprising that Julius Malema told the "economic freedom" marchers: "When they ask you why you are marching, you must say you are marching because you want to be like whites.

"Everything whites have, we also want it," Malema told the marchers.

The media then reported that Mr Malema was whisked away like a real king in a government blue light motorcade to the airport to fly to the romantic Island of Mauritius to enjoy an all-expense paid for wedding party that is estimated to have cost more than R10-million.

Kings normally see themselves as the representative of the people. They overeat while the people suffer. Historically, democracy was achieved only when people got rid of their kings, often violently.

In South Africa, politicians want their king-like lives by hook or by crook. The tender or the ministerial handbook guarantees our leaders the good life of whites. We must not forget that our ministers can buy up to two cars that cost up to a million rand among the good things that come with political office.

Every internal battle for power in the ruling party is basically not about the people, but who will be in a position to eat either by the ministerial handbook or by the tender.

The disciplinary hearing against Malema and the "economic freedom" march must be seen within this context.

Someone must explain to Malema that white privileges were obtained through massive oppression of blacks, from land dispossession to forced labour.

To live like whites means to exclude and exploit blacks.

Now we hear Malema might soon be arrested for money laundering and corruption.

The defence that state institutions are used to settle political scores maybe true, but it is also true that Malema is a big beneficiary of dodgy tenders. In this game, all are tainted, the accused and the accusers.

We need to end the privileges that comes with political office.

A good example of such an effort is the September National Imbizo's people manifesto, which calls for "politicians and public servants to use public services". Our leaders are not kings, they are mere servants of the people. Time they acted like servants.

  • Mngxitama is the author of Is Malema a Mugabe? a short political biography of Julius Malema. Get a copy at newfranktalk1@gmail.com

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