Leaders Urged to Seek Solutions During Crisis Times in SA







Leaders Urged to Seek Solutions During Crisis Times in SA

We must ask ourselves honestly whether it feels good to be an African today - particularly if it feels good to be South African - when the promise of the Constitution and performance of our democracy continue to drift apart and repel each other as do magnets of a similar strength’, says the country’s former Statistician General, Professor Pali Lehohla.

Further negatives in South Africa, said Lehohla, were the COVID-19 pandemic and government corruption that accompanied it, as well as the looting and flooding.

Lehohla was delivering the keynote address during the 2022 Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at UKZN titled: Modelling the Path to a Better Life for All: A Roadmap to Peace and Stability for a New Generation in South Africa

The lecture, delivered in commemoration of the 61th anniversary of former ANC leader, Chief Albert Luthuli receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, was hosted by the University in partnership with the Luthuli Museum and Foundation and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC).

Lehohla reflected on his time as the former Statistician General when a path to a better life was unfolding, confirmed by census results showing an improvement in service delivery, education and economic growth from 1996 to 2001 and in 2007.

Referring to the rampant corruption which plagues the country, he said: ‘The party of Chief Albert Luthuli finds itself in the strangest of places and there is no doubt under such circumstances we seek to answer the question of what counsel Chief Albert Luthuli would have offered to us as a nation?

He referred to Luthuli’s most powerful quotes as the ‘10 commandments’, highlighting: • Commandment 2: Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. No one is above questioning whatever the circumstances. • Commandment 4: Learn the rules of the game and then play better than anyone else. • Commandment 7: Laws and conditions that tend to debase human personality - a God-given trait - whether made by the state or individuals, must be relentlessly opposed in the spirit of defiance as shown by St Peter when he said to the rulers of his day: “Shall we obey God or man”. • Commandment 10: Remaining neutral in a situation where the laws of the land virtually criticise God for having created men of colour is intolerable and must be opposed.

Lehohla evaluated Mrs Nokukhanya Luthuli’s contribution to Chief Albert Luthuli’s journey, her children, her community and - after Luthuli’s death - as a widow. ‘Let us remember the ten commandments of Chief Albert Luthuli, remember the work of his widow and focus on renewal anchored in those commandments because the ANC of Chief Albert Luthuli lives in the aspirations of South Africans and Africa,’ he said.

In his welcoming address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Mosa Moshabela spoke about the legacy of Africa’s first Noble Peace Laurette who was also one of the continent’s greatest leaders. Moshabela said the lecture served as a platform to unpack the challenges faced by South Africa, helping to shape a better future for the country and the rest of the continent.

Chairperson of the Luthuli Museum Council, Mr Important Mkhize said an individual or a nation could not escape their history or past. Reviewing South Africa’s history of apartheid, imperialism and colonialism, he said: ‘For Africans in particular, this has meant depravation, repression, exploitation, indignity, instability and the destruction of the fabric of society, namely the family.’

Commissioner of the Public Service Commission, Professor Somadoda Fikeni said the lecture was being delivered at a time when the country was in a deep, unprecedented crisis and could either plummet into despair or create opportunities to seek solutions; citing Japan, Germany, and Rwanda as countries that had ‘arisen from the ashes’.

Fikeni encouraged leaders to stop being hindrances to South Africa’s development, and highlighted a crisis in leadership. Discussing the importance of women leaders, he also encouraged the youth to become the leaders everyone was waiting for.

Acting Deputy Director-General of the DSAC, Mr Vusithemba Ndima said the lecture was an opportunity to keep the memory of Chief Albert Luthuli alive. Acknowledging the government and the people of South Africa for inscribing the memory of Luthuli in various ways, he listed how the icon’s legacy had been kept alive through the Luthuli Museum, a statue of Luthuli in the KwaDukuza Municipality, the Luthuli Legacy Walk and Fun Run organised by the Luthuli Museum which takes place every July coinciding with the date of his death, and the annual Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture.

Programme director for the hybrid event, TV news anchor, Peter Ndoro commented on how the lecture aimed to ‘promote the principles and values of Chief Albert Luthuli which were peace, human rights, justice and co-existence of people in harmony irrespective of race, colour, gender or creed’. During the event, the audience was treated to a performance by the Justice Gizenga Mpanza Hospital Choir.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini