IIG News

Insights session – Politics and Corruption and its Impact to Growth in SA

The IIG together with the Graduate Institute of Financial Services (GIFS) facilitated an in-depth panel discussion with leaders in various areas of expertise to discuss the politics and corruption the country is currently facing inclusive of the impact to growth in SA.

The session kicked off with a bright and cheerful welcomed by GIFS spokesperson, Christina Ribeiro. She then introduced the Insights MC, IIG Council Member and powerhouse representative of the Education Portfolio, the delightful and eloquent Tebogo Raphathelo. Tebogo reminded all in attendance that CPD can be obtained via the IIG CPD vault found on the website at: https://iig.co.za/

The session was moderated by Dr Kershen Pillay, CEO of GIFS who is regarded a foremost thought-leader within the financial services sector in SA. He is also and education trailblazer who is passionate about mobilizing the power of education to create a better Africa for others to inherit.

Dr Kershen touched on the current headlines in South Africa. It was quite eye-opening to note that according to the Bloombergs Misery index, SA is 3rd in the world. Youth unemployment is reaching approximately 40% and the wave of looting in KZN has cost the economy around R27 billion. SA’s endemic corruption scandal continues to grow as most major metros are poorly run leaving communities and industries to suffer. Eskom stage 6 loadshedding has already done considerable damage to the country’s economy. South Africans are dealing with substantial stress but have shown immense resilience. The question begs though as to what a democratic SA will look like and who will save us? Dr Kershen shared a message that Nelson Mandela echoed 22yrs ago that we have a limited time on earth, and we should use that period for the purpose of transforming your country into what you desire it to be.

Dr Kershen then introduced the esteemed panelists:

Prof. Bheki Mngomezulu – Prof. Bheki is a full Professor of Political Science at the University of the Western Cape where he is also the Deputy Dean of Research in the Economic and Management Sciences faculty. Prof. Bheki also holds seven academic degrees and a senior secondary Teachers Diploma. He has also been a regular guest political analyst on various TV stations, radio and newspapers.

Professor Verne Harris – heads the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s leadership and knowledge development processes. He was Mandela’s archivist from 2004 to 2013. He is an adjunct Professor at the Nelson Mandela University, participated in a range of structures which transformed South Africa’s apartheid archival landscape, including the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. He has also served on the Boards of Archival Science, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. The Freedom Expression Institute, and the South African History Archive.

Dr Kershen asked what’s the panelist’s radar on how we close the gap in South Africa.

Prof. Verne advised that firstly we need to determine as to how we got here, what are the patterns of this corruption and what lessons can we learn. The apartheid regime system was profoundly corrupt, but we hadn’t reconciled what had happened in the last decade as that system was coming to an end and people like Wouter Basson only exacerbated and already stressed country by capitalizing on its misfortune. In retrospect, we underestimated what we inherited as government during the Mandela’s governance. Seduction of leaders with capital and arms deals, started in the 80’s & continued through the 90’s. Madiba unfortunately didn’t act quickly enough as the Zondo commission & others like it had no follow-through. Commissions of enquiry become a travesty when we don’t hold people accountable. We have not successfully post 1994 redistributed wealth and reconciliation and transformation projects have not gone far enough as we continued to brew within a perfect storm. Democracy has been ‘captured’ illustrating the magnitude of this challenge.

Prof. Bheki was asked as to what the read on the state of politics are at the moment and have we reached a defining point on the issue of corruption. Bheki who is unapologetically notorious for making politicians uncomfortable and boldly reminded us all that if there’s a corruptor there’s a ‘corruptee’. The urgency in dissolving corruption starts with individuals, if we are corrupt, once we occupy positions of power, it elevates the level of corruption. Sadly, corruptions exists in both State and public sectors whilst State in itself is an instrument of coercion and corruption when it was supposed to be apolitical and non-partisan. If judges don’t abide by the constitution, how will they deal with corruption. Some police unfortunately who are supposed to be guardians of our constitution, become the hub of corruption as we very well know. Where do we find a solution as this “corruption pandemic” is killing the African continent.

In a brief poll, 60% of attendees believed that we can close the gap on corruption. Unfortunately, there is still very little faith in our current administration. The country has potential but people in power have failed us continuously. Due to the government failing dismally, individuals have to take the initiative themselves, as outsourcing is no longer an option. 

Dr Kershen very aptly reminded us that although Hitler was diagnosed with a mental illness, what does it say of the masses who followed him in committing the atrocities. They couldn’t all have had mental instabilities.

Prof. Verne having spent much time with Mandela, was asked what Tata Madiba would be advising at this point? One of the first points to note is that the long walk to freedom never ends and its a test of character and commitment in what we do when things seem hopeless. Fundamental learning is that hope in itself is not helpful as we need something deeper. Madiba’s most admired attribute was that he had a profound faith that doing the right thing mattered. Unless we find a way to protect, inspire and develop youngsters, we will be lost. Sadly, most youngsters spend a vast no of their youth in detention. Prof. Verne and his team have been running centres and workshops with qualified and experienced practitioners in attempts to earn state subsidies to assist in developing a social bonding practice with our youth.

Prof. Bheki was asked as to what will it take to bridge the gap? He strongly emphasized that politicians are not manufactured by a factory, they are elected by the community. If someone has questionable credentials, they should not be placed into positions of power. Politicians are elected by communities even if they don’t deserve the position whilst knowing fully, they’re incapable. We cannot infinitely deal with symptoms without addressing the root cause of the problem.

Any organ of the state has the responsibility to conduct themselves ethically but unfortunately do not practice this and this is now dangerously filtering into the private sector as well.

Incompetence can lead to corruption but is not a direct factor of it. Incompetent leaders look for shortcuts which result in being tempted into corrupt activities as a result of their incompetencies.

Prof. Verne added that individuals that have resigned themselves to tackling corruption often feel like they’re swimming upstream and often resign to giving in as it’s easier to go with the flow. South Africa’s challenges are an early warning system for humanity, telling the world what we will ultimately confront globally, unless we change our behaviours. Greed is a fundamental contributing factor and there seems to be a unified instinct of Afrophobia.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. Bheki once again reiterated that in order to eradicate corruption we must do much self-introspection and honestly ask what role we have played to sustain corruption.

Prof. Verne concluded by suggesting we ask how do we support those who want to eradicate corruption and that also begins with introspection. We all have to commit to a deep systemic change. We have to change the entire system that is causing the problem. Part of male white privilege is having access to power, so we need to commit to using those resources to redistribute wealth in the long-term. It must be a deep and sincere support.

Dr. Kershen closed the session by summarizing the recurring message that as South Africans, we must  not allow cadres of incompetence to ruin the country we call home. We are resilient and absolutely have the grit to rise above our challenges.

A huge thank you to our panelists, IIG and our valued members in attendance.

Article written by: Asiya Swaleh