Topic: Courageous and Ethical Leadership Across Sectors
Ms Yoliswa Makhasi Director-General, Department of Public Service and Administration
Mr Cas Coovadia Chief Executive Officer, Business Unity South Africa
Mr David Lewis Executive Director, Corruption Watch
Be it in times of crisis or every day, “normal” life, courage and ethics are necessary for the effective management of any of entity. These qualities are important as they create trust and security in social contracts needed for the smooth operation of society. Absence thereof not only leads to corruption and maladministration, but a lack of faith in leaders and a dearth of security and accountability.
South Africa’s “lost decade” – the period from approximately 2009 to 2018 – was marred by blatant corruption and unethical behaviour, creating a trust deficit between citizens and the institutions which lead them. Inadequate justice, or the complete lack of consequences for this behaviour, further eroded faith in those in power and brought to the fore an explicit cowardice in leadership in the private sector, government, academia and civil society alike. Now, in 2020, and amidst a global pandemic, it is reported that the R500bn relief fund intended to combat COVID-19 and its dire economic effects is now under investigation for corruption by the SIU. This is against the backdrop of a South Africa where church leaders are facing prosecution for fraud, Steinhoff and other corporate scandals continue to loom largely, and we have seen the rise of corruption in institutions of higher learning. With South Africa and South Africans ailing in so many different ways right, what impact can courageous and ethical leadership have in redressing our injured social contract with our leaders and how do we bring about this much needed shift in our moral compasses?