Opening the event, Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso said the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Trust Annual Lecture had become an occasion that forces the UMP community to introspect and reflect in profound ways about leadership, especially its ethical and moral nature.
“We aspire to be an African University leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation. This vision would never be achieved if we do not place ethics and morality at the centre of our being as the University of Mpumalanga,” she said.
“Moral and ethical leadership is sought among our staff, students, management and the South African community as a whole; to demonstrate courageous leadership at this challenging time in our history. The endowment will help to inspire our students and staff to think in a visionary way, and confront obstacles along the journey in ways that demonstrate adherence to a moral and ethical compass.”
Professor Mayekiso further said that the university is working towards the establishment of an ethical culture so that interactions with stakeholders are undertaken in a honourable manner.
“Ethical and moral leaders are the ones who will inspire us to self-actualize, and be the best we can be. May the habits of our own hearts change, because we have heard, and attentively listened to the pearls of wisdom, and insights, shared with us – in this seminal lecture today. May the lessons to be imparted to us, continue to inform what we do, and how we do it, going forward,” she said.
Speaking on the topic: Providing Ethical Leadership in a Disrupted Society: Quo Vadis South Africa, Professor Zide said a disrupted society is one where there is no regard for law and order.
“A disrupted society is one in which the value of UBUNTU has escaped our self-consciousness and our wellbeing. A disrupted society is one that has turned its back on the blueprint of the Bible – the 10 commandments. Above all, a disrupted society is where life is about Me, I, Mine and Myself and not we, us, ours and ourselves. A disrupted society promotes and embraces the lifestyle of opulence, pomposity and self-aggrandisement at the expense of the majority of the people of the country.”
He further said that a lifestyle of opulence and riches is the antithesis to the lifestyle explained by Prophet LaNdwandwe in her book: Akusiko kwami Kwebantfu: Unearthing King Sobhuza II’s Philosophy 1st edition 2009. In getting to know archbishop Makgoba’s philosophy, one comes to understand why he is the personification ethics and morality.
“Furthermore, a disrupted society is engulfed in a series of midnights. An ethical leader has to manage to find his or her way through a maze of such midnights.”
Professor Zide explained the midnight within the social life, moral and psychological order: Family lives are broken and there is no support base. It is midnight because people are dying of natural and unnatural diseases and the number of orphans, widows and widowers is increasing.
“Yes, it is midnight and ethical leadership is more needed now than ever before as the Zondo Commission continues to unearth and fathom looting of the state resources but politicians continue to live a lifestyle of opulence and personal aggrandisement. President Cyril Ramaphosa has a big task on his hands and that is to provide ethical leadership if our political landscape has any hope of changing."
“It is midnight within the psychological order. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night, deep clouds of anxiety and depression are suspended in our mental skies. More people are emotionally and mentally disturbed today than at any other time in history."
“The COVID19 pandemic has left the entire world reeling in pain, anger and anxiety, and the second wave of the pandemic is expected to be deadlier than the first. The threat this poses requires a more agile, responsive and ethical leadership, rather than a leadership that would wash its hands like Pontius Pilate said."
“Saying that the spread of the virus and the containment of the pandemic is in our hands, is leadership shirking its responsibility. There are millions of South Africans out there who still need to be trained and retrained about the need for social distancing, sanitization, washing hands and the wearing of masks. Just ask the many who do not even have water and a bar of soap, no food, no money, no form of income and wearing of masks is just a dream."
“Some people have had to improvise as they do not even have money to buy masks because of unemployment. All of these threats are indicative of the fact that it is midnight within the inner lives of human beings as ethical leadership is non-existent but the bling culture of personal aggrandisement and self-enrichment is on the increase."
“At midnight, colours lose their distinctiveness and become a sullen shade of grey. Moral principles have lost their distinctiveness. Right and wrong are relative to likes and dislikes and the customs of a particular community. We have unconsciously applied Einstein’s theory of relativity, which properly equates the physical universe to the moral-ethical realism. In this context midnight is the hour when men desperately seek to obey the “eleventh Commandment; thou shall steal but not get caught. According to the ethic of midnight, the cardinal sin is to be caught and the cardinal virtue is to lie, but no one must lie with real finesse.”
Professor Zide further went on to share ethical leadership qualities embraced by the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.
“This paper cannot do justice to the Archbishop if we fail to articulate as best we can the ethical attributes and qualities which distinguish and separate him from the rest of the men and women of the cloth. The ethical and principle leadership values which the Archbishop stands for are honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, credibility, respect, transparency, rejecting self-fulfillment and personal aggrandizement, effective control, legitimacy and praying for self and others.”
“These and many more are a myriad and tapestry of Archbishop Makgoba’s attributes which helped to sustain him during and after the apartheid regime and even now during the democratic dispensation. Only a man of his faith, courage, calibre and integrity would be able to stand the test of time.”
The event ended with the announcement of the Archbishop Makgoba Essay Competition winner, Bachelor of Education Foundation Phase student Mongezi Dladla.
“When I first received and email about the competition, I ignored it because I thought the topic would ask too much of me. I was busy at home with my school research and did not think I would have the time. I ended up writing the essay and I got to read some great articles. In the process is a crisis and every crisis provides an opportunity and as human beings, it is in us to overcome the crisis,” said Dladla.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @ChrisplPhoto.