The pervasive and deleterious spirit of lying, covering up the truth has now fully penetrated South African society, especially the economic and political elites.
Thabo Mbeki warned on December 16, 2007, about the entrance of this spirit and many of our luminaries paid no attention as they rushed to board the gravy train.
“Presenting his political report on the first day of the ANC’s 52nd national conference in Polokwane, Mbeki said this was a challenge that had assumed a” higher profile” since the party’s previous conference in 2002.
“This is the practice that again is entirely foreign to our movement — the practice of using untruths, of resorting to dishonest means and deceit to achieve particular goals,” he said.
Even in the most difficult years of the liberation struggle, the ANC had always refused to resort to “these means” to hide its reversals and difficulties, or to present a more optimistic picture than circumstances justified.” In any case, at that time South Africa was enjoying an economic boom not seen since the 1960s. There was a significant degree of respectability regarding the systems of governance and the practice of good governance was seen as practicable and attractive.
So, the Zuma camp, the trade unions, the SA Communist Party (SACP), the ANC Youth League and the ARV lobby groups had to manufacture an assortment of exactitudes to overthrow the Mbeki regime and entrench lies, incompetence, corruption, political gangsterism, criminality and sloth – and they succeeded.
The Scorpions were closed without a just cause. Vusi Pikoli was unjustly terminated as the National Director of Public Prosecutions after earning the Prosecutor of the Year Award.
The chairperson of that committee had to determine whether Pikoli was fit to hold office. In all these instances mendacity and duplicity were the principal tools of the political shysters doing the hatchet jobs.
Lately, Fikile Mbalula wisely or unwisely came out clean and expressed and labelled the defence of the Nkandla gate – ubuxoki, or outright lies.
He also pulled in the Phala Phala matter- now that led many to start saying indeed the guidance given by judge Sandile Ngcobo was undermined by the lies of the ANC MPs the same way the public protector report on Nkadlagate was frustrated by the ANC in parliament.
Mbalula stood his ground with hard-hitting facts to the point where the ANC had to gag him.
These lies have been used even in matters of service delivery and on the international stage to misrepresent the ANC government’s capability and performance.
Ramaphosa told the World Economic Forum in January 2023 that loadshedding was a thing of the past, claiming plans were afoot to end it. These untruths were later repeated by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and Mbalula.
All projects and programmes of all formal institutions need to be based on hard facts and the truth so that budgets, timetables, and quality standards can be known and met.
Lies mean citizens and businesses cannot stand on solid ground and plan their lives.
Integrity is the most important quality any leader must have. Without it, there is no leadership.
The late doyen of leadership Professor Warren Bennis said that integrity is the main and most important quality of a leader, everything else flows from integrity.
Integrity is lacking from the president and his cabinet, from the Top 7 of the ANC and regrettably, it is clearly lacking also in our top business leaders and corporations. No one should try to act super righteous but everyone must submit to the RDP of the Soul.
The saga involving Netcare and Thabi Leoka, among others, shows that our big corporation is not honest in that Netcare hid the fact that Thabi Leoka lied on her CV about having a PhD she did not even need for the job of being a company director.
The problem was not that she lied about a PhD, the problem was that she did not have integrity and basic honesty and automatically could not be entrusted with fiduciary duties.
That cover up speaks volumes about the level of respect we have for basic truthfulness. It is now up to ethicists, religious leaders, and governance specialists to reintroduce the requirement for telling the truth and displaying integrity daily.
- Swana is a political analyst, an academic and a member of the 70s Group