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30 MARCH 2017

Programme Director
Fellow speakers
Young Leaders
Ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to address you this morning at the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention 2017.  You have asked me to speak about a difficult theme today – the subject of leadership.  You may look at me and by virtue of my position as Deputy Minister, you may conclude that I am a leader.  The subject of leadership is difficult because I too am learning about leadership.  It is an ever evolving subject. 

We are reminded by the character Lewis Rothschild, a presidential aide in the movie The American President, when he said: “People want leadership, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.”

The hunger and thirst for leadership, to be leaders is in all of us.  But what kind of leadership do we want?  What kind of leaders will we be? 

The passing away of Comrade Ahmed Kathrada, Oom Kathy, reminds us of sacrificial leadership.  Uncle Kathy started his political work at the tender age of 12 when he distributed leaflets at street corners for the Young Communist League. 

His involvement in the peoples struggles such as the Defiance Campaign and others led to his house arrest, banning orders and ultimate imprisonment on Robben Island.   Uncle Kathy sacrificed much to be a leader of people. 

Uncle Kathy’s inspired us by his willingness to stand for justice for all people in spite of the personal cost.  He showed us what a moral leader looks like.  We will never forget him.   

Corruption in both the public and private sectors has seen our citizens yearn for honest and ethical leadership.  Our people want leaders that they can trust and depend upon to act ethically in all situations.  This applies not only to government, but to the private sector, and to civic and religious organisations. 

As South Africa recently hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Conference, we were told that entrepreneurial leadership is needed in society today. 
An entrepreneurial leadership is characterised by ingenuity, risk taking, thinking outside of the box and innovation. 

We are bombarded daily with the 7 leadership habits of this.  Or the 5 leadership traits of that.  Or the 3 leadership characteristics of the other.  As we crawl through the desert, bombarded by books, articles, tweets and reports on leadership, we externalise the subject and look to others.  We want to see all these traits, characteristics, qualities and habits in leaders out there.  And we forget the leader inside.  We abdicate our responsibility by outsourcing our leadership.

Nelson Mandela reminded us when he said that “I am not a liberator; the people are their own liberators”.   The significance of this lies in the fact that young people should not socially construct heroes but find heroes within themselves.  To identify an external human being or institution as a hero as an agent to champion your vision, your goals and your life aspirations is to disempower yourself and kill the innate leader within you.
The nation was extensively consulted when we developed the National Development Plan 2030.  Our citizens in no uncertain terms told us that they envision a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others.  They envision a South Africa where everyone embraces their full potential. 

They envision a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work.  And that they realise that such a society will require transformation of the economy and focused efforts to build the countries capabilities. 

Our National Development Plan 2030 calls for an active citizenry.  It calls for citizens, like you and me, to be engaged in their communities.  It calls for citizens to raise our voices.  It calls for citizens to build together.  It calls for citizens to be active partners in our country’s development.  Without this active partnership, the process of empowerment will be incomplete. 

But we cannot be this active citizenry if we are looking for the hero outside, the voice outside, the leader outside.  When we outsource our voice, our leadership and our citizenry, we become inactive and we disempower ourselves in the process.  The desert becomes longer and harsher.  Water becomes more scarce.  And before we know it, the sand becomes a viable option to water. 

I am aware that this convention in addition to its leadership theme has a strong entrepreneurship theme.  In fact, many of you seated here today are entrepreneurs or budding entrepreneurs.  In addressing the high levels of youth unemployment and the need for economic growth, we need innovative youth entrepreneurs and youth co-operatives.  We need fresh ideas that must propel young people to find a niche in the economy and transform it. 

The levels of entrepreneurship uptake among South African youth are still far too low when you compare ourselves to our BRICS counterparts and other middle income developing countries.    Young people have to be creators of jobs and not only seeking jobs.  How do we stimulate entrepreneurship as one of the solutions to tackling youth unemployment?

In order to stimulate youth entrepreneurship, are we clear about what this ecosystem looks like.  Is it adequate and efficient?  We must think about youth entrepreneurship through a continuum approach.  At one end of the continuum we have unskilled, under educated and unemployed youth.  They want to engage in some meaningful economic activity.  They may or may not advance along the entrepreneurship continuum. 

At the other end of this continuum we have successful young entrepreneurs who are making a profit, employing others, paying taxes and growing their businesses and the economy. 

If we are to stimulate youth entrepreneurship along the continuum, we have to think, plan and align our support to these aspirant, semi-established and established young entrepreneurs.  The entrepreneurship continuum may not be a smooth process.  It will kick some out, provide boosts to others as they leapfrog stages, and will be a difficult journey for most as they progress along. 

The ecosystem must take into account the sometimes disparate and fragmented government, civil society and private sector services to support young entrepreneurs.  We must define the ecosystem, align the players and get the ecosystem to work. 

Government is committed supporting and growing youth entrepreneurship in South Africa.  We believe that entrepreneurship provides a viable entry point for economic participation for our youth. 

Using the lessons learnt, both good and bad, we are committed to aligning government support programmes and incentives towards developing the youth entrepreneurship pipeline.  We do this because we want to drive South Africa’s competitiveness through youth entrepreneurship.  Our economy desperately needs the talent and innovation that young entrepreneurs bring to the table.

So we need leadership and more specifically entrepreneurial leadership.  The constitution puts power into the hands of our people. We have to take leadership and control to further our dreams.  Power to the people means empowering people to be able to take charge of their own destinies in the spaces that they occupy.
Good leadership is about taking responsibility.  We exercise good leadership by taking responsibility to make sure that things go right in our own lives, in our communities, in our organisations and in our country. 
Bad leadership is the abdication of responsibility.  We outsource this responsibility to people who may disappoint us. 

It is time that we as this millennial generation took responsibility.  It is time that we truly exercise people’s power in our communities, companies and organisations.  Young people must be at the forefront of pushing for positive social change.  And to do this, it requires leadership.

So my challenge to you…………don’t outsource your responsibility to lead.  Don’t crawl through the desert in search of the mirage of leadership.  Don’t drink the sand.  You must lead.

I thank you.
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