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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

All South Africa needs is good leadership

We have learnt so much from the mistakes made in other so-called established democracies like the US.

If ANC heavyweight Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were serving in a senior position in the US Congress, she would have learnt much from ousted House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In the world of party politics, it is not about following your moral beliefs or rational thinking. As seen in the case of McCarthy, going against the wishes of influential, hard-right conservatives in the Republican Party cost him the top job.

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Ironically, in ANC politics, Dlamini-Zuma’s commanding of mass grassroots support in KwaZulu-Natal and concerns over adding to party polarisation ahead of next year’s crucial elections must have counted in her favour when she broke ranks against a caucus position at a critical parliamentary vote. She had to be spared from being shown the door.

The KZN vote – although fragmented due to Jacob Zuma no longer enjoying good relations with the current ruling elite – is quite important for the ANC.

Unlucky was McCarthy, who dared to be truthful. With the Republican Party dealing with the hard-right faction led by Matt Gaetz of Florida, McCarthy’s trust and support have been waning within his party.

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All this at a bad time: the run-up to the 2024 US national polls, with embattled Donald Trump a contender for the presidency and enjoying the support of the likes of Gaetz.

Among his many sins:

  • McCarthy called on Trump to accept his share of responsibility for the 2021 violence that overwhelmed the US Capitol; and
  • Worked with Democrats to keep the federal government open rather than risk a shutdown.

Because of its strategic importance and being the world’s largest economy, whatever happens in the US grabs global attention – although it is no longer viewed as the centre of international best practice when it comes to democratic principles.

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John Stremlau, visiting Wits University professor of international relations, has assured me that the impact of voting out a US House speaker “will not have a disruptive effect”. The current Republican turmoil and political dysfunction could work in favour of the Democrats, increasing the party’s majority – enough to give certainty to global markets.

Away from the US politics, we are also going to national polls next year. As we have seen in previous elections, we will likely see more voter apathy. Unlike in the US, the problem with many of us is that we tend to stay away from casting our vote – a constitutionally given right to vote for a party of our choice.

If people are angered by a lack of service delivery, grants not paid on time, load shedding, potholes, uncollected garbage, corruption and state capture, they tend not to see the importance of casting their vote on election day.

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Despite our gripes at things not going as they should, South Africa – a country with a working banking system by international standards, infrastructure, natural resources and many more attributes – still has so much potential to become a world number one in all respects.

We have learnt so much from the mistakes made in other so-called established democracies like the US. All that we need is good leadership.