By Zindzi Nkunzi
The Rhodes Business School hosted its 7th Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Trust annual lecture on values-based leadership on Monday, 04 October 2021. The Business School Director, Professor Owen Skae, welcomed and acknowledged all distinguished guests and attendees. The renowned Archbishop Thabo Makgoba opened with a prayer. Making his opening remarks, Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, said the lecture gives a platform to reflect on leadership challenges and possible solutions in society.
Referring to the information laid bare in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Dr Mabizela said: “If we fail to stop the rot and to turn this country around sooner rather than later, we may just become another failed state. That would be a betrayal of the sacrifice made by so many in this country and beyond. We need to confront the pandemic of corruption, greed, and selfishness. Our country needs moral, ethical, caring, responsive and accountable leadership. We need leadership that can take us out of this morass and place this country on the path of shared prosperity and success.”
Professor Skae read the Responsible Leadership citation of the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Trust winner, John Rohlandt, from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) class of 2020.
The former Minister of Finance and the 8th Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Governor Tito Mboweni, opened his speech with a quote from Titus 1: 7-14
“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to be trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers.”
The Governor further referred to the COVID-19 pandemic and many unpleasant events that took place in South Africa, such as looting of the malls, corruption and fraud. “Values-based leadership should be distinguished and distinguishable from the rats and mice that masquerade as leaders in the world and eat away our future. Global leadership must be believable and trusted by the people,” he said.
“I grew up in the Apostolic Faith Mission Church. From an early age at Sunday School, the Ten Commandments were drummed into our heads! The commandments guide us to distinguish between right and wrong. Our consciences always tell us when we violate them, and this happens more often than not. If your conscience says this is not right, it is probably a bad thing you are about to do. “Do not steal!” should constantly ring in the head of anyone in a position of responsibility,” he said.
He echoed Dr Mabizela’s sentiments that there is a need for ethical, moral, and value-based leaders in South Africa. “If anyone is a leader in the national, provincial or local government, a company, or in a church, sports or any other community organisation, and they use that position to steal, they contribute to the erosion of our society. There is no “excusable” corruption. Whatever the form of corruption, it is imperative that the perpetrators are pursued and face the full wrath of the law. It is only then that we can halt the pervasive rot in all sectors of our society,” he added.
Following the Governor’s speech, Professor Skae moderated the question-and-answer session. In response to the questions, Governor Mboweni said that leaders should confront the issues and crisis at hand and debate with their colleagues to find solutions. He referred to the wise words of the Canadian American motivational speaker Brian Tracy, “The effective leader recognises that they are more dependent on their people than they are on them”. The honourable guest Governor Mboweni highlighted that, as a leader, you have the responsibility to work with your colleagues to produce better results, find solutions, generate more profit for the businesses, and grow the economy.
Governor Mboweni suggested that the South African government cabinet be a 60:40 split, and the 60% should constitute the youth. “The youth is energetic, they are quick in finding solutions, easily run around because they are still young and understand how to use technology effectively,” he said. He said the 40% should constitute the old and experienced people who would guide the youth. He called on values-based leadership to rise and rebuild the country. “Rebuilding our country requires that good leaders rise in all spheres of society. We must not allow the gloom to overwhelm us as there are many good, admirable people who espouse the values required to lead our recovery,” he concluded.
The MBA class of 2020 class President Sandile Sentwa, thanked the Governor for sharing his experience and knowledge in leadership. Professor Skae extended a hand of gratitude to all the distinguished guests and attendees.