Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Time for action: Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo watches an inauguration ceremony in Senegal in this file picture. He says SA and Nigeria need to get their houses in order, politically and economically. Picture: REUTERS
Time for action: Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo watches an inauguration ceremony in Senegal in this file picture. He says SA and Nigeria need to get their houses in order, politically and economically. Picture: REUTERS

The ANC will have to be given a "fight for its money" before it fixes itself, says former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.

His comments come as the ANC faces criticism from opposition parties, religious bodies and its alliance partners over President Jacob Zuma’s leadership. Obasanjo was among the strongest and most vocal supporters of the ANC when SA was under apartheid.

In an interview with Business Day, Obasanjo said liberation movements could "convert themselves", but when they failed to do so, they risked becoming irrelevant.

He was in SA to launch Making Africa Work — A Handbook for Economic Success, a book he co-authored with Greg Mills, the director of the Brenthurst Foundation.

"Here, I don’t really know what’s going on because the ANC is the majority party. You will not get it right until the ANC can be given a good fight for their money," he said.

It was important to have strong governing parties and strong opposition to ensure that a country worked.

A problem hampering SA’s growth was governance.

"Because of the governance problems that you have, it flows into the management of the economy, the confidence in the economy. If you go out on the streets now, you will see posters — what type of posters do you see?" he asked.

"All I know is that you in SA and we in Nigeria, we must get our houses in order, we must act as we should act because we must be the powerhouses to drive the subregions that we are in — the Southern African Development Community for SA and the Economic Community of West African States for Nigeria," he said.

SA and Nigeria had to get their houses in order politically and economically.

Inadequate leadership in general was a problem, with leaders failing to take responsibility for their actions.

"A leader is meant to lead and once a leader is engaged in anything that adversely affects their job of leading, then their leadership is impaired.

"Leadership is service and sacrifice. When service and sacrifice are lacking, leadership is inadequate," he said.

He would not be drawn into assessing the leadership of former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is contesting for the ANC presidency.

"I believe, generally, we need improved leadership on the continent … I don’t want to talk about individuals," he said.

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