South Africa is still a young democracy and our civil society does not yet understand the rules of the system that well. Civil society will in future have to stand up for what it believes in, for the spirit of democracy and for the constitution.
The rules of a constitution is immensely important in the sense that it provides boundaries to the use of power.
This was according to University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) director, Prof Piet Naudé, speaking as part of a panel recently at the US Woordfees in Stellenbosch. Supported by USB-ED, the discussion focused on good leadership and was broadcasted live on the RSG program Praat Saam on Friday, 10 March 2017.
There is worldwide doubt that a political system inherently advances the interest of a country. A pursuit of short-term objectives is always present and politicians continuously try to push the boundaries of their power. That is why a constitution is so important.
About leadership Prof Naudé said that if a leader cannot be trusted as a leader with morals, integrity and character, then he or she cannot lead.
“The problem with our current leader, is that in a moral sense he has lost his right to leadership a long time ago. If you have lost that, you have lost all authority because no one knows if they can believe you.”
Turning to the American President Donald Trump, Prof Naudé said because he acts divisive, unrefined and not in the common good, people say he is not a good leader. “He is indeed a leader, but a bad one.”
“It is normal to play on basic emotions during an election to get votes. But when you have won, you are no longer the president of a few disgruntled voters. You are the leader of the Western world, or a world leader. If you then carry that divisiveness to the rest of the world, then you are a bad leader.
“Pres. Trump should first learn about himself, who he is, how to manage his emotions and what he considers as his strong and weak points. Currently he is like a bull in a China shop,” Prof Naudé said
As part of the panel, retired Judge Johann Kriegler and chairman of Freedom Under Law said Pres. Trump still has to provide prove of leadership. He has brought an unrefined atmosphere to the White House, while Pres. Obama was dignified, elegant and of reconcilable stature.
“Trump is still a political champion for his own reputation – hopefully he will still grow.”
About the South African constitution he said that while it is written on paper, it needs to be in people’s hearts.
“Democracy is only as strong as what people allow it to be. It cannot rescue the Americans or us. It is to what extent people subject themselves to the constitution. The American constitution is not the best, but it is the American people that make it work. The South African constitution is better, but we have to make it work through our spiritual acceptance of it.”
He has no doubt that the future of South Africa will be better than it currently is. The leader of today has to realise that there is a critical and well informed society out there. A leader with feet of clay will be easily spotted.
“Our current president’s weaknesses is known to all, but this is in a passing phase. Let’s look to the next one,” Judge Kriegler said.
The head of the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute For Student Leadership Development, Dr Leslie van Rooi, said that leaders must listen to what is happening at ground level and what people think and experience.
“Leadership cannot only exists on a world stage or platform - it does not only happen in the ivory towers of the world.”
“We should never lose hope for better leadership in South Africa. However, it asks for a total new way of thinking about leadership – it must be less hierarchical, more participatory, critical, authentic and transformational.”
“The younger generation tend to grasp this better than the older, but we need to make sure that they are supported,” Dr Van Rooi said.