Lukhona Mnguni has composed an excellent letter to DA leader, Mmusi Maimane. Every fair, South African thinker should read it. We need robust and intellectual debate to fuel and stabilise our wobbly democracy. I provide you extract to entice you into reading it all:
“In the lead up to the Port Elizabeth Congress I was critical of you because I believed, as I still do now, you are not ready to lead the DA. However, ‘actions speak louder than words’. Prove me wrong. I wish to share my reservations, which must be areas of focus for you. There are striking parallels between you and Jacob Zuma and this genuinely concerns me. It seems a bizarre claim but let me set it out in three ways.
Firstly, both of you ascended to power on the backdrop of popular support for charismatic leadership. You both (Zuma in Polokwane and you in Port Elizabeth) contested dull intellectuals that could not measure up in charisma. The risk inherent in the triumph of charisma is that leadership becomes a function of grandstanding, hyperbole speeches devoid of intellectual gravitas. However, remember, ‘actions speak louder than words’.
Secondly, you also easily fall into the temptation to bend principle and accommodate populism. Your gaffe on the death penalty referendum question is a case in point. Yes you do not believe in the death penalty; however, there is no room for a referendum on it either. Just as much as the Civil Union Act cannot be put to a referendum. Many have scolded you on this. There are only two reasons you could have indicated you would (if you were a President) welcome a referendum on the death penalty. The first is that you simply do not understand the impossibility and undesirability of such a referendum. The second is that you were being populist to demonstrate ‘inclusivity’. I suspect the latter is true. Inclusivity is not always desirable because the majority is not always right; hence the Constitutional Court exists as the supreme guardian of our constitution…
…Thirdly and most importantly, you and Zuma are too obsessed with Nelson Mandela’s name. It is political suicide to base your political rhetoric on values that were suitable for a 1990s society in its nascent years of transition from minority rule to democracy. Mandela’s values are being scrutinised by young black people, with some even calling him a sell-out. These are the people who are your target market for votes. We do not want to remember Maimane as the Mandela praise singer. Zolani Mkiva fulfilled that role even for generations to come. Allow the spirit of Mandela to rest in peace.
Your first task should be to produce a document that clarifies your February accusation that South Africa is a broken society. Make proper diagnosis and prescribe thoroughly thought out remedial action. Sound bites leadership is not leadership we deserve as South Africans. We want to be engaged with ideas…
…Your job is to consolidate the DA. Your job is to influence the DA differently and set it on a new path. I celebrate your success as a young man. You have a difficult task ahead, do it well.”
Read the full letter, ‘Dear Mmusi Maimane: Don’t Be Like Jacob Zuma’.