Tipping point: Dear Mr President

It’s been two weeks since the country went to the polls and South Africa, in its meld of colours and cultures, resplendent in its diversity as it is in its disparity, gave you a vote of confidence in taking us to the promised new dawn. I watched with great interest your address where you said all the right things to a capacity crowd and you articulated what the citizenry wanted to hear. However, we the people had heard it all before from other leaders. The words are always a contest between sincere intention, unmoving decisions and paralytic promises.

Against the backdrop of a fragmented society that has lurched from crisis to crisis, the ethical destitution of a nation has taken its toll. The leadership excesses of extravagant, wasteful and self-indulgent lifestyles has further plunged us into a moral and ethical cauldron. This can only means that something has to be done urgently while there are starving children and the desperate jobless among us. There is something that you once said that was significant and created an iota of optimism. You called on people to “build a capable and ethical state” and added “we must intensify the fight against corruption within government and society.”

I pray that your words penetrate the indolent stupor of some of our greedy leaders who have been allowed to repeatedly erode our national psyche.

I understand the challenging road ahead for you and enormous responsibility you have to bear but it is critical, now more than ever before, that you deepen the conversations and dialogue that would revolve around conscious, ethical leadership before you choose the new leadership of the country. If we are to survive and grow, it is imperative for our leadership to address equitable and sustainable development, poverty, historical imbalances, values, ethics, inequality and decency. You are deeply aware of this; the question is how.

We have a great opportunity from the current morass we find ourselves in to breed a different quality of leadership. When leaders are found wanting, they have an opportunity to turn this hurdle into a life lesson of conscious leadership. As human beings, no one is perfect. We are all flawed in one way or another, which allows me to conclude that even the great leaders and masters who existed in all cultures were also flawed, despite their best intentions. Even though flawed, the most conscious among them discovered in the depths of their innermost being that transformation was an internal process. They dedicated their lives to service, displayed great human values such as unprecedented wisdom, clarity of thought, humility, truth, altruistic love, empathy and patience. What they learnt and how they behaved despite the challenges, circumstances and crises that confronted them can and may be emulated by all of us.