Zizi Kodwa: Zondo probe also teaches us to look at ourselves

Johannesburg – The establishment of the state capture commission was at the instance of the former public protector’s investigation into serious allegations of abuse and misappropriation of the public purse, and the influence of the Gupta family on executive decisions.

The former public protector could not finalise her initial investigation and had anticipated that this could be concluded within 180 days as her term came to the end. Given this background, the state capture commission was appointed early 2018, and has since heard evidence from witnesses and is now about to make its final report.

The commission shouldn’t only unearth the malady of corruption and how the state was captured, but should also provide a platform for ethical leadership that this country so desperately needs.

This should also provide us as leaders a moment to reflect on how our own actions and conduct contributed to this malady.

Human ideals of leadership go beyond what the law requires and what is legal, hence the law should be the minimum upon which we judge our conduct.

We shouldn’t use the law to justify our actions or inactions. Although political parties do not exercise public power, the fact that they contest for state power creates a perception of active players in state affairs, at least in the public eye.

This is what informed my approach to the Zondo Commission, not because there was any criminality to defend. The question is how do we keep this balancing act without creating social distance between the leadership and the people it serves.

The fundamental task of leadership is to resolve peoples’ problems and to be among them at all times. As we reflect on issues of ethics and morals, this shouldn’t lead to elitism.

The need to reflect on leadership ethics should go beyond political leadership, this regeneration must include but not be limited to our religious leadership and general leadership in society.

This will require our ability to sacrifice our own individual freedoms and liberties, if we are to remain a moral compass for the rest of society. Citizens judge leadership not on its unlawful conduct, but on its morality.

Failure to accept our own shortcomings will lead to an inevitable situation where citizens believe and support dunces or nincompoops as alternative leaders. We must accept that unwittingly we have disappointed the citizens and demonstrate that we are ready to draw lessons.

Law is a ceiling to rascals and a minimum to the nobles.


• Kodwa is Deputy State Security Minister.

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