This quote has resonated with me for a long time and when I recently watched the IRON LADY (one of 10 movies I watched crossing the world last time – apparently I have lost the ability to sleep on planes even when blind drunk) it cemented an issue I’ve been battling to compartmentalize for a long time!
Does anyone make hard decisions anymore?
After going back to South Africa for a few days I go the usual update via the insufferable newspapers and radio stations. Fortunately I haven’t lost the ability to deflect the cries of crime and corruption but the one thing strangely enough that hit home was the e-tolls. Not because they are a major topic in my life but because of what they actually represent.
You see basically what happened is the government spent pretty much R20 billion of the tax payers money (and my money since I only left a few months ago) on structures and a system that would make you pay for the roads you use – seems simple enough.
Cue the public outcry and the trade unions whining (because that’s all they seem to do) and cue the governments ‘deer in the headlights’ panic and long process of trying to get every single person in the country, it would appear, to agree to the tolls.
Now the bottom line is South Africa is in a similar financial situation to Greece (yes its dramatic but not far off). WE CANNOT PAY FOR OUR ROADS. The government came up with a solution that those who use the roads have to pay more for them – seems like good logic doesn’t it? Now if we had forceful, intelligent leadership, what would have happened is the government would have forced the people to pay and after six months of crying people would adjust the amount they spend on Verimark products and they would pay. South Africa would make money to fix its roads (or buy Jacob Zumas 12th wife a house) and all would be back to normal.
But no – we sit with a R20 billion asset that doesn’t work and egg on everyones faces!
SO what the hell does Margaret Thatcher have to do with it? Well it’s quite simple, she existed in a time when Britain was even more of a boys club than it is today! She rose through the ranks to become the most powerful politician in Britain in a time when Britain was categorically failing as she realized she had to make HARD DECISIONS!
She cut mining jobs, she raised taxes and she did the unthinkable by taking on the trade unions head on (something I wish SA would do at some point!) she did these things not because she wanted her approval rating to drop to the lowest of any British PM in history but because she knew her personal suffering was nothing compared to the suffering that Britain would endure if she didn’t!
Maggie knew that she had to make hard decisions in the short term to ensure the long term survival and prosperity of her nation. By the time she left office ten years later she had managed to tick pretty much every box on a Prime Ministers scorecard and she will be forever remembered as one of the greatest (toughest) leaders of the 21st century.
South Africa is in financial trouble, of that there is little doubt, but then again so is every nation on earth (except the Chinese) and we need a government who is going to make tough decisions and unfortunately FORCE the people to endure them for the long term survival of our nation.
Now the question is do you believe these people can handle that job?