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Leadership at the peak – The liberation struggle

George W Nyabadza

TWO Sundays ago a friend of mine invited me to attend an ANC campaign rally at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.


d the Siyanqoba “we are victorious” rally, the main speakers were Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki. My friend, a businesswoman, who is an ardent activist for the advancement of women in business had insisted that I attend to witness the nature and support for the ANC and its government of South Africa during the first 10 years of their democracy.

The experience was well worth it. Worthy to note was the resounding and deafening welcome of Mandela and President Mbeki.

Mandela’s speech was one of hope and encouragement and strong defence of the new democracy. President Mbeki’s speech whilst still strong on the same themes was more oriented to new strategies going forward. A clear message from him was that he would no longer tolerate people in positions of authority who were not prepared to work to achieve the goals set to improve the lives of the people.

This week Zimbabwe celebrates its 24th year of Independence. South Africa is celebrating its 10th year. Both nations have gone through the liberation struggle and attained Independence, at least of the political nature.

In my view the liberation struggle is not over yet, only one phase of it has been achieved. Leaders at every level of society need to understand and appreciate this.

Complete liberation has four different facets: political, economic, spiritual and mental. Political liberation has been achieved for both countries but the most difficult battles still lie ahead in seeking to secure economic, spiritual and mental liberation for the people.

Economic liberation will only be realised when the people of the democratic state become productive forces that not only control the means of production by title deeds or equity participation but by being actively engaged in the process of production. Business leaders and working people must pursue efficiency and productivity, farmers must produce to feed the nation and for export, minerals and raw materials must be processed in the country and not exported in their raw state, secure financial centres must be created to keep the wealth within the countries’ borders because nothing justifies the hoarding of Africa’s wealth in Europe or America’s bank vaults and the state must enhance the productive capacity of the nation by building the appropriate infrastructure.

Economic liberation can be achieved because the enemy is fairly visible and can be dealt with systematically. Spiritual liberation is slightly more difficult. If you imprison the spirit of a person they become your slave willingly or unwittingly.

The human spirit in Africa has been imprisoned by religious practices that do not free the spirit but rather keep it chained, subdued, inexpressive and unproductive. Religious leaders ought to question themselves when after years of worship the congregants do not demonstrate measurably higher levels of lifestyle.

The problem with many religious practices is that their powerless forms of Godliness meet a basic human need to relate to a higher power leaving many to take refuge in them only to ease the conscience and provide an escape from life’s challenges. It becomes like opium as Marx appropriately described it. The struggle will not be complete without the people being freed from imprisoning religious practices. This particular enemy is invisible because religious leaders may not realise that they themselves are in bondage. It becomes a case of the blind leading the blind.

The last fort in the struggle is mental liberation. You may have political, economic and religious liberation but unless you are mentally liberated you are still not independent.

Leaders need to realise the ravaging impact of political, economic and religious imprisonment on the mind. Conscious efforts need to be taken to heal and release the broken minds that dominate the country’s consciousness. It is only a liberated mind that can enjoy the full benefits of a democracy. When all four phases of the liberation struggle have been completed then true Independence has been realised.

The challenge to the leaders of these two great nations and everyone else bold enough to be called a leader is to complete the liberation struggle.

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