Our leaders are not delivering, says Lindiwe Mazibuko
Cape Town – The African continent is facing a leadership vacuum with a generation of leaders who could have implemented change, but hasn’t done so.
This was the view of Lindiwe Mazibuko, former DA parliamentary leader and a panellist at the opening session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which is currently taking place in Durban.
Speaking about responsible leadership in disrupting times, Mazibuko had harsh words for the “current crop of leaders” in Africa who has been unresponsive and not delivering.
“The people we are putting in charge are not delivering. We need to redefine leadership and how we think about it if we’re going to reach these high-minded goals we set for ourselves,” she said.
“But instead we’re coming back year after year and talk about how we face challenges with implementation.”
Mazibuko, who resigned as the DA’s parliamentary leader in May 2014 amid a public fallout with former DA leader Helen Zille over the DA parliamentary caucus’ handling of employment equity legislation, said leaders need to “take the people with them”.
“Leadership has to be nurtured and supported and they shouldn’t gatekeep the new cohort out of opportunities to grow when the incumbents can no longer continue. Leadership should be open and generous.”
Another panellist, Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam and co-chair of the WEF on Africa, agreed with Mazibuko on the leadership vacuum, but added that the current leadership on the African continent should be held accountable.
“Africa leaders are moving backwards, she said, citing the fact that the highest number of children who are not in school are found on the African continent.
Byanyima criticised African governments that are privatising basic education, because they’re not collecting enough tax revenue to fund it.
“We have to resist this,” she said.
Mazibuko cautioned that education should be “bundled together” with skills development, warning that in Africa people are too reliant on unskilled jobs that come from East Asia.
“But when mechanisation and artificial intelligence happen these people will no longer have jobs. There’s a danger looming that we haven’t future-proofed unemployable young people. Things such as coding and entrepreneurialism should be part of education and skills development,” she said.