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Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation: Leadership and Governance Dialogue

The Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, in partnership with the Absa Group, host a Dialogue Series at tertiary institutions around the country, honouring the legacy of the late struggle stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, while tackling important issues facing South African and Africans. The Leadership and Governance Dialogue, held in November 2018, discussed O.R.'s style of leadership, which was characterised by a deep commitment to ethics, integrity, respect and moral principle.

Tambo's values are still relevant to this day, as we acknowledge that business, government and societies are in transition. As we seek to redefine the purpose of business, these guiding principles will become even more critical if we are to restore trust and faith in leaders and institutions and maximise business value for the benefit of all members of South African society. As a key role-player in the African economy, Absa has made a valuable contribution to the process by creating a platform for this event where important issues facing Africa can be addressed and debated.

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While the true extent of unethical behaviour and corruption in South Africa remains unclear, the reality of its prevalence and depth is beginning to emerge from the ongoing inquiry into state capture, which is investigating corruption related to South Africa's political and government elites and the private sector.

Private interests have overridden the national interest in pursuit of personal advantage, as people seek to line their own pockets. According to Dr Joel Hellman, an American expert who testified at the recent hearings into state capture, countries need preventative measures to limit attempts by individuals or firms to influence rules and regulations. The reason for this is that ethical governance and ethical behaviour are in a country's best interests. So-called graft may benefit a few over a short period of time, but history has shown that ultimately, this erodes economic growth.

The pursuit of the bottom line without regard for good governance has become so prevalent that fewer than half of audit executives surveyed for South Africa's Institute of Internal Auditors Corporate Governance Index report 2018, believe that ethics is integral to the proper functioning of the workplace. This score – a 6.6 percent drop year-on-year – is the lowest since the inception of the Index in 2013.

South Africa's low levels of tax collection, fiscal constraints, unemployment and widespread poverty reflect the significant costs to the country of poor governance and corruption caused by a weak moral and ethical environment. These issues costs are hampering development and come at a cost that the country Africa simply cannot afford.

 Prof Lyal White                                            Eusebius McKaiser                                        Ntyatyi Petros

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Panellist from the left: Prof Lyal White, Joel Khathutshelo Netshitenzhe, Fasiha Hassan, Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, Tanya Cohen, Eusebius