As the South African youths are now becoming relevant in the political space, there is urgent need for proper guidance in order to promote ethical leadership in public sector. In the continent of Africa, more youth politicians and activists are beginning to emerge with the aim of challenging ageing leaders with new ideas that is capable of changing the lives of the people for better. Most of the young politicians who are in their mid-30s are eager to bring about massive change in the political space which is expected to strengthen the South Africa’s democracy. The new occurrence in African politics is that elections into leadership positions are now yielding more youths into leadership positions. These positions include but not limited to senators, governors and ministers. South African youths and women constitute more than half the number of electorates. Youths are now leveraging on their large numbers to elect young leaders with good knowledge of the economy into positions of authority. Although some school of thought feel that experience is a product of old age and that older politicians should still be allowed to govern the affairs of the states, some argue that young and vibrant politician is synonymous to wisdom, foresight and hard work. It is of a view that if African youths are presented with opportunities, they have the tendencies of transforming the continent. In the last decade thereabout, young politicians have shown their leadership capabilities. Information by Africa Renewal showed that young leaders are now occupying parliaments in South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zambia and others. African Renewal went further to state that “In South Africa, Lindiwe Mazibuko, 37, was elected leader of the opposition in parliament in 2011, representing the Democratic Alliance. She became the first black woman to hold that position. “There is no prosperity for our continent without a vibrant, diverse and truly competitive politics, founded upon excellence, transparency and commitment to the public good,” Ms. Mazibuko said in a TEDxEuston talk in January 2016”. Mr. Dlamini, who is the chair of Times Media Group of South Africa and head of Massmart, a retailer affiliated with Walmart in the US posited that “The single most important factor for continental growth is the energy and passion of young Africans who have a palpable sense of positive energy and optimism”. Mr Mr. Dlamini according to Africa Renewal, stated that “Youths are young entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, academics, engineers and professionals. They do not want aid or charity. They want to unleash their full potential”.
More youths are now making waves in the political scene such as the minister of communication, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams from the Sakhela village in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. She was a former elected member of the parliament. In 2011, at 34, she was the youngest deputy minister in Zuma’s presidency. At 41 she has been saddled with the responsibility of handling the ministry of telecommunications and postal services. Lamola is another young politician making waves. He ones served as deputy president of the ANCYL under Malema and now becoming relevant in the scheme of political activities. The current head of policy and DA’s new Member of Parliament, Gwen Ngwenya, 28, is another youth that grew up in Durban and currently doing well in politics.
How to ensure Ethical leadership is promoted among the youth politician in the public sector
Training and re-training: Training is a very important activity when it comes to leadership. Leadership comes with lots of challenges and uniqueness which requires adequate training for better output. For good management and at any level including political office holders, leadership skills training is inevitable as it also encourages the delivery of better results. Adequate training and retraining of youth politician in the public sector will help in the development of capabilities that will ensure good productivity, it will help in the formulation of strategies needed for effective leadership, it will encourage better leadership style, it will boost the confidence needed for effective leadership, it will ensure social cohesion among the populace and help with adequate skill needed for conflict management.
Early involvement of youths in political activities: Experience cannot be gained overnight. Prospective youths with political inclination are supposed to be close to the older politicians to gain more experiences needed for them to excel in future political adventure. There are so many antiques involve in politics that require mentoring over some period of times before manifestation. If guidance are not sought from older generation of politicians, there may be lots of challenges that youth politicians will likely encounter that can further affect their leadership potential in the public space.
Discipline must be promoted: For Ethical leadership to be promoted among the youth politicians, there must be discipline at all levels of political engagement. Discipline involves the act of training both the mind and body to adapt to societal norms, rules and values. Without adequate discipline, there may be a compromise in good character and virtue thus making such person a nuisance to the society. Discipline becomes necessary because of moral bankruptcy among the youths which by extension have a negative effect on the social fabric of the country. Discipline instils high moral vale and good leadership qualities in the youths. This will put the youths in a better platform to become future political leaders with best leadership skills and self-restraint.
Ensuring democratic practices: To ensure Ethical leadership is promoted among youth politicians in the public sector, democratic practices must be top notch. This can best be appreciated at the level of political parties where democratic principles is expected among party members. If the youths are expected to be guided by the principles of democracy, then, it must start from the older politicians and must be allowed to flow down the veins of the youths. Democracy is one of the principal ways of ensuring ethical conduct in the political space. The political system within the country must create an enabling environment for well-meaning citizens, especially the youths, to inculcate democratic habits in their culture. Youth politicians have been seen as challenge to the actualization or practice of democracy. This is because of political rascality (such as protests and demonstration) in which some youths engaged themselves in. Even with that, report has shown the commitment of young people towards democratic principles.
Through accountability: Accountability is very important in promoting ethical values among the political elites especially the youths. Emerging youth politicians must be guided by the principles of accountability. The older politician must be made to be accountable to its citizens. By series of trustworthiness displayed by the older politicians, that may create a template for the youth politicians to imbibe and therby promoting Ethical leadership among the youths in the Public Sector
In conclusion, the necessity of mobilizing emerging youth politicians towards promoting ethical leadership in the public sector is a collective efforts. All moral standards that can bring about transparent and quality leadership within the political space are very sacrosanct among the South African youths. More efforts must be explored by older politicians to ensure its actualization.
Dr. Nneka Akwu is a researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She writes in her personal capacity