Are SA leaders exempted from behaviour advocated through campaigns?
The Metro FM news bulletin announced last week that the government is set to launch a campaign to encourage people to have fewer children and encourage birth control measures. Now in my understanding, our government is led by the ANC, which is led by our President Jacob Zuma, who at this point happens to have just over 20 children.
Please do not misunderstand my concern to be that of criticism against the President and his ‘traditional’ lifestyle, but rather as a sincere concern about the way our traditional way of learning and modelling behaviour has been ignored in all these campaigns.
This reminds me of the ‘one girlfriend, one boyfriend’ campaign advocated by Julius Malema, who was at the time under the leadership of our president. Needless to say that it seems to me that we have become a hypocritical nation, legitimising behaviour from certain well esteemed individuals while condemning the same behaviour when it involves by our general population.
Being a member of this general population I know at this point that due to my financial situation of lack of a financial situation, I cannot bring children into this world. Children are not only an expense, but they also require a certain level of emotional maturity from the parent. Parents are role models for their children, and it is likely that if you behave in a certain way, your children are likely to do the same; it is called social learning and modelling. Similarly, citizens of this country may not see why they are constantly being told to have fewer children, use family planning options when our President does the opposite.
This whole ‘do as I say not as I do’ thing does not work in South Africa as we have seen and we should know by now that people are not as ignorant as we may think they are. People are aware of what happens around them and as part of forming their own identities, may pattern their thoughts, feelings and actions after the President who serves as a role model for many South African citizens. You ask a few young people what they would like to do when they grow up and they tell you they want to be the president, not because they want to assume his position, but rather because they want to be like “him”.
So before we go on about what needs to be done to change people’s behaviour and how we can stop them from having too many babies, let us start at the top, let us ensure that people have role models that will model the kind of behaviour we advocate to ensure that we get the results we hope to get.