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Johannesburg - South Africa's success hinges on the government's ability to lead, Black Management Forum president Bonang Mohale said on Thursday.
“This country will rise and fall, not so much on the quantum of resources, but on our ability to manage, to plan, to lead,” he said on the sidelines of a BMF conference on good governance in Midrand.
“(We need the) ability to be able to really internalise the problems confronting us and to consciously and purposefully address them... because Rome wasn't built in a day.”
He said at the moment all indices were pointing in the wrong direction.
For the BMF, it made sense to have conversations like the current one so the country could talk about good governance and collaborative governance.
Political parties took part in a debate at the conference on Thursday on whether good governance could increase trust among government, civil society, labour, and business.
The African National Congress was absent from the debate.
Opposition parties blamed the government for high levels of corruption in the country.
Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele, Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, African People's Convention leader Themba Godi and National Freedom Party secretary general Nhlanhla Khubisa took part in the debate.
All said strong action needed to be taken against corruption.
On Thursday, the ANC said its secretary general Gwede Mantashe was not aware that he was meant to be part of a debate, but had received an invitation to address the conference.
“He respectfully declined because he had addressed the same conference last year,” spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni said.
National Union of Metalworkers of SA general secretary Irvin Jim was also scheduled to be part of the debate, but was not present.
On Wednesday, SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande was expected to address the conference, but was not able attend at the last minute.
When asked why no one from the government or the ANC was present at the conference Mohale said that logistically it had not worked out.
However, it was important for the ANC to be there, he said.
“This ANC-led government... are the ones that need to lead by example by just being able and willing to listen to what our (BMF) members have to offer as solutions to addressing some of our hardest issues,” Mohale said.
The BMF was discussing whether corruption had become an epidemic in South Africa.
“The reason we looked at governance is because this is the real key to good sustainable economic development. Right at its heart is the question of leadership.”
South Africa needed strong leadership with a compelling vision, a leadership which was trustworthy and transparent. This would build a foundation for a healthy economy.
“Then and only then will we have a chance of addressing the three things that keep us awake at night,” Mohale said, referring to unemployment, inequality, and poverty.
“There is no leadership anywhere in the world that can ever claim to be at peace with themselves when the gap between the have and have nots is widening instead of narrowing,” he said.