Editor’s Note: This editorial was written before President Zuma started playing musical chairs at the Ministry of Finance. His latest blunder – which has cost the country Billions – merely endorses my view as stated in this comment.
So, the end of 2015 has arrived and looking back on the past year, I must say it has not been a great one for South Africa or the trucking industry. Certainly there have been pockets of excellence that have risen above the ‘average’. However, in general, it is a year best left behind us as we move forward into the future. The trucking industry is inexorably linked to the good or bad fortunes of South Africa and its various industry sectors. Likewise, the good or bad fortunes of South Africa are inexorably linked to the operational climate created by our political leaders of the day. In this regard, our political leaders have failed both South Africa and the trucking industry dismally.
Corruption, jobs for pals, Nkandla, lack of performance, ugly court cases, and countless investigative task forces into various ministers, authorities and institutions. All this, plus a host more – such as millions and millions of Rand of wasteful expenditure by government departments – have dominated the headlines throughout the year and have created a climate in which not only business but every citizen of this country is battling. I get the distinct feeling that our politicians are solely content with creating their own comfort zones in the insane belief that so long as they are OK, the country is OK. Well no. That’s not how it works. The number of protests throughout the country by various communities against the lack of service delivery now makes South Africa one of the highest ‘strive’ torn countries in the world outside of any war zone. That clearly shows that the citizens of this country are not OK. The former Rainbow Nation where all colours blended into a beautiful bow that embraced the entire nation is but a distant memory. Now we’re back to just looking at black and white. Was Mandela’s dream and vision a falsity? Was he an icon operating in mode naïve? I don’t believe he was. The reason I say this is because I was there, I felt it and I embraced it. So too did millions of other South Africans. The dream was destroyed when tatty politicians started played vicious power games – not so as to gain an influencing position to promote the well-being of South Africa as a whole but rather in their own interests so as to get Mercs parked in their double garages in their plush houses.
With the arrival of President Jacob Zuma onto our centre stage, the age of ‘selflessness’ and ‘public service’ changed to the age of ‘selfishness’ and ‘let’s get our snouts in the trough’. It has caused chaos ever since. Yes, the declining world commodity prices – mainly due to a drop in demand from China – have had a negative effect on our mining companies but we are not alone in facing this trend. The whole world has been affected. Australia is a country which is battling as a result of this. Zambia is also battling following a slide in the price of copper and as we all know, these have had a negative effect on certain sectors of the trucking industry. But what does President Zuma do to encourage and uplift the private sector in such times. He stands on his podium and appeals to all companies – particularly those who do business with the state – to donate money to the ANC, warning that those who did not do so would be in “danger”. I can’t recall exactly if this statement was made before or after he announced that the African National Congress comes before the country. Whatever, such statements show his total lack of depth of leadership qualities. Zuma rules for Zuma – and that’s about it. There’s not an ounce of Statesmanship in the man.
Just prior to the general elections in 2009, I wrote a plea in FleetWatch to Jacob Zuma who was about to get the top seat in the country. It was titled: Mr President, it’s in your hands. As we exit 2015, I want to repeat parts of it here: “Mr President, you are inheriting the custodianship of a jewel, one that is more valuable and beautiful than any diamond you have ever seen. The name of the jewel is not ANC or DA. Rather, it is SOUTH AFRICA. The jewel is still there. All it needs is for its custodian – which is now you Mr President – to reapply the cloth and polish it. You see, a diamond never loses its inherent strength and qualities. It can, however, lose its shine if not cared for. Also, like a diamond, this jewel called South Africa has many ‘faces’ to it and you cannot polish just one ‘face’ and expect its true brilliance to shine through. You have to polish it as a whole. Do that and like a diamond, this jewel called South Africa will glitter and dazzle just as it used to post 1994. Mr President, it’s in your hands.” How naive I was to expect this from a man who is content with merely polishing his own little marbles.
The performance of our politicians is critical to the success of our country and our industry. As is spelt out by certain trucking industry leaders in this edition under our special report ‘Celebrating Trucking’, the trucking industry is there and willing to contribute to the growth of South Africa. But we need a climate that is conducive to growth – and for that we need a leader who is a Statesman rather than a chuckling speech-reader who is always trying to defend the indefensible. I have always been a Proud South African but I must admit I am battling when I see what’s going on around us. So often I have been knocked down to the status of Embarrassed South African. I hope 2016 will be a year where I can once again rejoice in being Proudly South African. I will certainly work towards that status. To all our readers and advertisers, thank you for being with us during 2015. May you have a Happy and Safe Festive Season.