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SA needs a youth-led movement to overcome the dismal failings of Ramaphosa’s ANC

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Sekunjalo chairman Iqbal Survé. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Under President Cyril Ramaphosa, the central core and philosophy of the ANC is quickly eroding, which – instead of uniting against poverty and being people-focused – has seen its leaders at each other’s throats every day of every week, jostling for top (lucrative) positions which can derive them the most benefit, according to businessman Dr Iqbal Survé.

In a hard-hitting interview with Independent Media, Survé, who is the chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH), touched on the idea of forming a new youth-led social democratic movement for anyone interested in putting South Africa first.

Survé’s statement echoes other rumblings that are growing ever louder from within the ANC, the party he joined in the 1980s to fight against the oppressive apartheid regime. “There are many who are going to be angry with me for breaking ranks – so to speak – with the party of my youth … the ANC, the party that I’ve grown up in, the party that I believe in. But the sad reality is that right now if we blindly continue to support the party and its leadership as it is, we will fail our children and fail all the people of this country,” he said.

A former medical doctor turned entrepreneur and philanthropist, Survé pointed out that China has been able to take 800 million people out of poverty over a period of 40 years, and thus South Africa, with its can-do attitude, should be able to follow suit by not only setting itself a goal of making sure that none of its citizens is poor by 2050 but by following through on the commitment. “There’s a time for talking and there’s a time for action. We’ve exhausted this conversation now and we, the people, don’t so much as want action but need it, and are prepared to do it ourselves now.

“An essential ingredient to any social democratic movement’s plan to eradicate poverty is creating the framework in which job creation can flourish, attract investment and build a new leadership of predominantly young people. In this way, we can lead the country into a completely different dimension and trajectory,” he said.

Survé is firm in the belief that the task of leading a revolution against poverty lies with young people, who have the brightest mindsets and are the ones most affected by the lack of opportunities they currently experience. “So, this movement, the Social Democratic Movement, isn’t about personalities of the past, it isn’t about individuals. It is about a call to action by South Africans, for South Africans, to create a new leadership that will emerge over the next few years to take our country in the right direction, and through the networks that people like myself can inject the right kind of investment into the country,” he said.

Survé also noted that while the ANC has lost its direction, opposition parties were no better, with the DA as a mouthpiece for the privileged, while the EFF, which has galvanised the country in terms of its radicalism, was centred around personalities.

He said the country, right now, does not need political parties but a new social movement that doesn’t just look at policies and ideologies, but the whole picture, a holistic approach to progress.

One SA Movement’s Mmusi Maimane shares a similar view on youth leadership. When reached, he said: “At this point in time Parliament has become a place for pensioners.” However, Maimane said he did not support the idea of new political parties.

Maimane said while most young people are not participating in democratic elections, they allow themselves to fight political battles. “I was impressed with young people when they took up the issue of #FeesMustFall, as I thought that was a powerful moment in our democracy because it was the young people who were saying we want free education in our lifetime.

“The reason why fees must fall does not exist today is that it has moved from the activism of young people to become something that is owned by political parties,” he said.

Maimane is dreaming of a South Africa that would one day be led by a president who is below the age of 50 and who will be able to interact with young people and with older people at the same time.

“We’ve got to allow young people to lead. Many credible businesses in this country are led by young people, so I fail to understand why, if a multibillion business can be led by a young person why is it that politics is not led by young people,” said Maimane.

Survé called on South Africans to courageously speak out. “When you speak out about such things, you could become a pariah when powerful people use the media and others use institutions against you. But if nobody speaks out, how are we going to fix the country? And what the country now needs is lateral thinking.”

He said no matter what the ANC says and no matter what policies it has, it has failed dismally because it has not focused on the people’s basic needs. “How difficult can it be to build a house for poor people? How difficult can it be to fix a pothole? How difficult can it be to make sure there’s enough water in a city and in a village? How difficult can it be to make sure things work in your country, like electricity?”

He said the current government leadership had failed to deploy its capital to create jobs so that the people could benefit. “So, we must move away from that mindset of exploitation and the winner-takes-all mentality because this is too beautiful a country to allow that to happen. The only criteria that one is going to have for you if you want to join the social democratic movement is that you must put the interests of the country ahead of you.”

It’s time South Africa abandoned its bottomless recycle bin of leaders and let the youth lead the way.

This article was originally published on IOL.