NEDBANK chairman Reuel Khoza has once again criticised SA’s leaders, this time for lacking the ethics required to root out corruption and to create a prosperous nation.
Mr Khoza was harshly rebuked and called to African National Congress (ANC) headquarters for a talking-to in April when he wrote in the bank’s annual report there was a "strange breed" of leaders who were undermining SA’s democratic institutions.
In an article published on Politicsweb.co.za this week, Mr Khoza gave notice he was not going to back down in the face of criticism and stepped up his censure — declaring SA was on the road to becoming a "rogue state". "Not only is corruption rife at the top of society, but convicted criminals with the right connections can get a sympathetic hearing from the powers-that-be," he wrote.
Mr Khoza said SA should heed the warnings of international leaders — such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Irish president Mary Robinson who recently visited the country.
The two condemned planned media censorship, warned on rising corruption and suggested that the ANC was fast losing its moral authority.
"Warnings to South Africans to wake up and resist the spread of institutional crime seem to fall on deaf ears as the pace of misgovernance by misdeeds hots up," Mr Khoza said.
"I have been severely criticised by the ANC for saying that a ‘strange breed’ of leaders is undermining our institutions.
"Although I never mentioned any particular authority figures or parties by name, those who identified themselves may once again be smarting from the whiplash remarks of Clinton and Robinson. What exactly is the problem we face here?
"In my opinion it is that political, business and others in leadership positions reflect short-term transitional and ethically weak transactional leadership styles."
He criticised the concept of a "second transition" — which was backed by President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s policy conference in June, but rejected.
Mr Khoza said speaking of a second transition when the first one was "not even halfway accomplished is an admission of failing transitional leadership status".
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who was among the party leaders who had a face-to-face meeting with Mr Khoza in April and accused him of bad-mouthing SA and chasing investors away, said yesterday that the bank chairman was free to air his views in public.
Mr Mantashe said Mr Khoza had "relegated" himself to being "a political commentator or intellectual" by publishing his opinions, and he saw no need for the ANC to respond.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said yesterday Mr Khoza was justified in criticising the country’s leadership. He said because of its hegemony, the ANC was setting the trends and its weaknesses encouraged mediocrity.
Mr Khoza wrote that SA needed transformational leadership to "get us out of the mess we are getting into". Leaders would need to honour the institutions of democracy, the rule of law, the balance of powers, judicial independence, accountability in governance and a moral outlook.
"Ultimately it is when the leadership truly empathises with the plight of the poor and downtrodden, and seeks to build a better society on the basis of a historically rooted vision, predicated on an ethical value system, beckoned and guided by a compelling, wholesome sense of destiny, that people can truly walk proud and rise to the best in themselves," Mr Khoza said.
"There are no short cuts and those who try to achieve their own narrow purposes — be it the retention of power, profit at any cost, or simply adulation from the ill-informed — will destroy our constitution and with it the dream of a common, tolerant, caring and equitable SA."
Answering questions from Congress of the People MP Juli Kil ian in Parliament yesterday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said fighting corruption demanded "far more than just institutions and laws".
"Corruption happens when people who work inside and outside government manipulate the system for their own benefit. This happens despite the robustness of anticorruption institutions," Mr Motlanthe said.
A joint effort was required to strengthen institutions and programmes designed to get rid of corruption, he added.
"We must raise the bar in terms of accountability and monitoring of how public funds are used," Mr Mot lanthe said.
The Special Investigating Unit, the agency to which the government assigns investigations of corruption in public institutions, reported to Parliament last month that it was probing cases involving R5bn in government funds.