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We need more Zamani Sauls in SA

2019-07-19 02:29

Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul adopts Sankaraism and sets the bar higher on humble political leadership, writes Benzi Ka-Soko

There is a breeze of fresh air in the political space in South Africa.

Zamani Saul has swiftly implemented policies and adopted a political posture in congruence with the strictest dictates of what I would refer to as Sankaraism, a philosophical and ideological doctrine that calls for genuine and total servant leadership in political power, thereby making leaders humble servants of the people.

Sankaraism demands that leaders must use their occupancy of political office to serve the people in the true sense of the word service.

Sankaraism places the interests of the people at the apex of political governance as opposed to serving the selfish interests of the ruling elite, the politicians.

For the uninitiated, it was Thomas Sankara who, upon assuming political office in Burkina Faso, introduced political humbleness by selling all luxury cars used by politicians.

It was Sankara who declared that all the resources of Burkina Faso, economic and otherwise, belonged to the people and not only to the few elites in the higher echelons of political power.

Sankara’s ascendancy to the presidency of Burkina Faso changed the complexion of the subaltern state of all the Burkinabe.

In the same vein Saul has rejected the luxury of political office.

On assumption of the premiership, he declared that he did not want his photos installed in government buildings.

This gesture alone carried a very powerful symbolism which challenged elected public representatives who develop balloon-size personal egos immediately after being inaugurated into political office.

Are the other eight premiers morally and ethically upright political leaders, or do we have hyenas waiting to pounce on public coffers?

He further declared that there would be no new cars for him and his members of the executive council.

Instead, the money allocated for luxurious cars for politicians would be used to buy ambulances to enhance service delivery in the health department of the Northern Cape government.

This Sankaraist-humanist posture adopted by Saul has thrown down the gauntlet to the political aristocracy in the country.

It is common knowledge that some people enter politics not for the interests of the people, but to galvanise resources for self-enrichment.

This gauntlet is also thrown to all legislative pieces which legitimise the luxuriation of political office.

Saul has sent a strong message to his colleagues across the political spectrum that the offices they occupy as a result of being elected do not belong to them but to the people.

That the vehicles they drive do not belong to them as individuals, but to the people because they have been bought through the taxes paid by the people.

In fact, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, on the occasion of the swearing-in ceremony of parliamentarians, told them that they should treat people with utmost respect and humility because they occupy these parliamentary offices on behalf of the people.

Those who occupy political office should be cautioned and reminded that it is the people that wield power and not them as they myopically believe is the case in the political juncture now.

Read: People come first: Zamani Saul represents quality of leadership SA always needed

History has recorded revolutions in which despots and tin-pot dictators, who had become power-drunk, were toppled by the masses, thus proving that it is the masses who wield power.

The recent Arab Spring revolution provides a vivid picture of what the people can do in challenging political arrogance and power-drunkenness.

Those who are elected into positions of power should be cautioned against flaunting opulence and crass materialism as has happened in our body politic.

This flaunting and crass materialism happens in the face of abject poverty, in the dehumanised living conditions of the poor and is meted out to the downtrodden masses of our people.

But for some warped reason, politicians arrogantly think that they are entitled to treat people disdainfully and disrespectfully.

Saul has shamed all those who subscribe to the notion that political office is for self-enrichment, cronyism and patronage.

By rejecting these benefits, Saul has sided with the downtrodden masses against the materialist onslaught associated with political occupancy.

He is providing a new definition of political leadership, political accountability and political moralism.

Sankaraism demands that leaders must use their occupancy of political office to serve the people in the true sense of the word service. Sankaraism places the interests of the people at the apex of political governance as opposed to serving the selfish interests of the ruling elite

Politics, I would argue, is not a bad discipline of human endeavour, but it is contaminated and besmirched by humans with their demons of hatred, greed, egocentrism, monetisation, commodification, idolism, materialism, elitism.

Saul has proved that politics as a discipline can be positively used to benefit the people, especially the poorest of the poor.

This is a very serious challenge to political leadership as we continue building and consolidating our fledgling democratic dispensation.

Do we really have an ethical political leadership in South Africa?

Do we really have a moral political leadership that is able to listen to its conscience? How many Sauls are there in our Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils?

Are the other eight premiers morally and ethically upright political leaders, or do we have hyenas waiting to pounce on public coffers?

These questions remain posed to all of us as individuals, political leaders, political parties and organisations in the country’s geopolitical arena.

Ka-Soko is an independent political analyst and writer

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August 18 2019