With the long, tragic crisis in Zimbabwe coming to a close [we hope], and the long national drama surrounding President Thabo Mbeki and his former deputy, and successor as president, Jacob Zuma approaching resolution, we appear to be on the cusp of some new beginnings, for better or for worse.

I say for better or for worse because, I believe African leadership- it’s legacy, traditions, and institutions-is failing us. Sadly I am not anywhere close to being the first to express this lament, but I do promise to do more than just complain.

I believe in Africa. I believe Africa can work. But I don’t believe it will work without us engaging each other to confront institutional problems and cultural dynamics that compromise our effectiveness and our democratic ideals.

In South Africa specifically, I believe our problems fall broadly into a few areas:

A poverty of ideas and vision
Failure to mobilize and empower society to confront and overcome challenges
A culture of rulers rather than public servants
Politics as industry: self-serving public ‘servants’ and the culture of corruption
Lack of a strong culture of meaningful debate

In the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of articles on each of these, attempting to identify the main problems, their roots, and proposing solutions. I hope to be joined by other contributors, and hope to be engaged by readers on the issues raised, and engage them right back.

This will by no means be a comprehensive exercise, but I do hope this will represent the [re]beginning of a process.


We get the leaders we deserve.