Wednesday 22 May 2024

Introductory remarks at the UWC-Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust 2024 Lecture

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust
Annual Lecture on “Integrity and Leadership”
Introductory Comments
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

21st May 2024

Programme Director,

Prof Panther,

the Vice Chancellor, Prof Tyrone,

Distinguished panelists,

Ladies and gentlemen:

The UWC-Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust Lecture for 2024 occurs during flu season, so we have a lot of apologies. I have also just shaken off a week-long bout of flu. Our daughter, Paballo, who works in the Trust's resource management and mobilisation section was to be here to ensure her dad is well, but opted for virtual attendance. However, the church's Provincial Executive Officer is here as my chaplain.


Wow, I can’t believe that we are in our 8th lecture on ethical and values-based leadership, wherein we seek to open the university space to bring communities, students and staff to reflect, debate and find moral and ethical solutions to our social and economic challenges. We have other programmes too, in the universities of Limpopo, Rhodes, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Mpumalanga, Lesotho, Eswatini and Fort Hare. In some instances, these platforms are about the interface of education, food security and social justice. Of course, returning here at home, “Udabs” is special, since I wear another hat, as Chancellor for this beautiful institution.

I am here to listen, to engage and to grow too, but as I conclude my brief remarks, let me comment on the upcoming 29th May general elections by picking up anecdotes from the people I have met on the field.

Last weekend in Makhanda, at a school's 150th anniversary, someone who is not corrupt commented to me, “the 29th of May, is that an Anti-Corruption Day?” And a friend and colleague said recently, after listening at Grace Bible Church in Soweto to my sermon on the transformative power of love: “I could imagine you pulling together all the religious leaders and, together, denouncing the cancer of corruption.”

I also recall that eight years ago, when we marched in a Walk of Witness to Parliament here in Cape Town, I deplored the lack of trust between political leaders and the people of our country. In my speech, I asked: “Doesn't the distrust we feel in today's leaders feel more or less like the distrust we felt during the days of apartheid?” The results of a new survey by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation show that in 2013, two out of every 10 South Africans said they found it difficult to trust that our leaders would do the right thing. A decade later, the figure has quadrupled – in 2023 eight out of every 10 people agreed that leaders are untrustworthy.

With South Africa in the top ten percent of the most corrupt countries in the world, someone else suggested: “There is no chance for the New Struggle that you have been talking about over the years... There is no chance for the call of equality to really survive and there is very little chance for democracy to survive…”

In one of the conversations I had with Madiba during my pastoral visits in his dying moments, his concern was that his comrades should not be caught by the web of corruption. He smiled when he realised that I shared the same concern about comrades and corruption and had articulated this concern in public. He said something that I have never forgotten, and I believe today is the day to repeat Madiba’s words: “South Africa must put an end to corruption, or corruption will put an end to South Africa.”

A final word on the need for peace in the world. Since preparing these words, the news has come in that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will seek arrest warrants against both Israeli and Hamas leaders over the war in Gaza. As one of those who suggested as far back as my Christmas sermon that there was little doubt that both sides have committed war crimes, I welcome this news.

A distinguished panel of international jurists, including senior judges who have served in international courts, has agreed that the prosecutor's evidence justifies his request for arrest warrants for both war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is an important step towards holding all those who wage war accountable under international humanitarian law, no matter on what side the perpetrators stand.

Once again, thank you so much for being here. God bless you, your families, our communities and God bless South Africa .

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