The leadership conversation held with former State President Kgalema Motlanthe on the Leadership Platform Show on CliffCentral.com on Monday 18 May was a vibrant testimony of the merit of such conversations with participating experienced seamless leaders. He is a man of great dignity and wisdom and we could all learn from him. You are invited to listen to the podcast of the conversation.
Amongst various valuable discussion points raised by the host of the show, Adriaan Groenewald, the conversation with former President Motlanthe also touched upon the issue of corruption that is so rampant in our society. The question that he was asked was about prevailing opinion in many quarters that politicians, specifically ANC leaders are corrupt. Our own experience on Leadership Platform is that many of the ANC leaders we have contact with seem to have integrity and are opposed to corruption.
President Motlanthe’s reply was somewhat different to what we would have expected. Instead of vehemently denying corruption amongst ANC leaders, he provided an insight into the issue of corruption that we can all learn from and relate to our own attitude towards corruption in its many forms.
This is what he explained: In the years of the struggle of the ANC (and others no doubt) they were faced with years of exile often under difficult circumstances. It was easy for us participating in the discussion to recall that the only ‘rewards’ they could look forward to during these many years was being banned, placed under house arrest or sent to prison. I recall how members of my own family were involved in our security forces and went on punitive raids in neighbouring countries that were supportive of the ANC and others.
A new ‘reward reality’
The new South Africa created what President Motlanthe calls a different ‘reward reality’. I think that this means that people who received very few ‘rewards’ in the past were suddenly exposed to a dramatic increase of reward options. It is in this context that corruption can flourish if we do not have effective checks and balances in place as mentioned by former President Motlanthe.
The integrity of the man is such that he was not telling us that there is no corruption amongst his colleagues, but we have no doubt that he is very serious about his desire that we as a society should relearn the value driven lessons of the past over and over again.
It is common for us to express strong views on corruption amongst our political and social leaders that the media and icons such as Advocate Thuli Madonsela, our Public Protector, reveals on a regular basis. Our concern in this article is about the extent to which former President Motlanthe’s wise comments of a new reward reality around us impacts on our own life style and value system. Why is corruption so rampant in our society? In part it is because of an entitlement expectation that so many of us manifest. The feeling may be expressed as ‘in the past I had ‘nothing’; it is now my right to expect to be a fat cat like so many others around me’. Before you and I nod our heads in agreement, we should take a close look how this social syndrome has hit you and I as a leader and person.
We should not lower the bar
President Motlanthe made the comment that we ‘should not lower the bar’ in terms of our joint efforts to generate a common cause that will unite our country.
Those of us who want to be seamless leaders and live up to the Mandela-like leadership heritage of being driven by positive values and a passion to serve others cannot afford to be swept along by a governing passion to be fat cats because we are entitled to it. Once we embark on a life style that is primarily governed by a passion for power and material possessions alone, we are slaves to those forces that are threatening the good work done by other great leaders of the past.
We wish the reader success in his and her efforts to keep their heads above water and develop to their full potential, but hopefully not at the cost of those values that make a nation and individual great.
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