Nurturing ethical and visionary leadership: SA’s imperative for the future

Chris Maxon

Chris Maxon

Published Apr 9, 2024


Chris Maxon

Amid a leadership crisis and with a pivotal national election on the horizon in May 2024, the clarion call for effective leadership reverberates louder than ever in today's intricate world.

Reflecting on the insightful analysis of the the former minister of Singapore and the then-senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew, it becomes evident that the choices leaders make can shape the destiny of nations, for better or worse.

Lee’s discourse on leadership, drawn from four decades of international encounters, underscores the indispensable qualities requisite for effective governance. The capacity for self-assurance, broad-mindedness, strategic acumen and adept communication stands as pillars for successful leadership.

Yet, as Lee astutely observes, many leaders falter in the transition from dismantling old structures to erecting new ones - a task demanding nuanced capabilities far beyond ideological rhetoric.

As South Africa braces for the forthcoming elections, the spectre of revolutionary promises and ideological fervour looms large. Manifesto launches echo with vows of abundance once the shackles of corruption are shed, yet the reality demands a sobering assessment of the multifaceted challenges awaiting new leadership.

Drawing parallels from global history, from Mao Zedong's revolutionary zeal to Deng Xiaoping's pragmatic economic reforms, it becomes evident that adaptability and competence are quintessential in navigating the complexities of governance in this era and beyond.

The leadership landscape in post-World War II Europe and America further clarifies the correlation between context and leadership styles. Crisis begets charismatic, conviction-driven leaders, while stability fosters a yearning for continuity and comfort. In the South African context, amid socio-economic complexities and democratic imperatives, the call for new, capable and caring leadership resounds louder than ever.

The imperative for South Africans in the coming elections is clear: a new leadership cohort representative of its diverse populace, equipped with the acumen to address multifaceted challenges while upholding ethical and democratic principles. Such leaders must transcend traditional boundaries, drawing from experiences across various sectors – from business to faith-based institutions – to foster unity and prosperity.

However, leadership is not solely an innate trait; it can be nurtured through learning and development. By investing in the education and empowerment of aspiring leaders, South Africa can pave the way for a new generation of ethical and visionary leaders capable of steering the nation towards a brighter future.

Crucially, pragmatic policies must underpin the leadership agenda, steering clear of the allure of populist rhetoric. Embracing the complexities of the colonial legacy, South Africa must avoid the simplistic notion of wealth redistribution through nationalisation, opting instead for policies rooted in pragmatism and long-term sustainability.

In conclusion, South Africa stands at a pivotal juncture, with the trajectory of its future hinging on the calibre of its leadership. As the nation charts its course forward, the clarion call for new, competent, ethical and visionary leadership rings clear.

It is incumbent upon us to scrutinise the people in the party lists. We must check if parties have identified, nurtured and empowered new leaders capable of rising to the challenges of our time, steering South Africa towards a future defined by a safe, prosperous, equal and united country we deserve in one generation.

Chris Maxon is public candidate for Rise Mzansi.

The Star