South Africans came in numbers to hear Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogeoeng speak on business and leadership at a breakfast meeting at Rivers Church in Sandton, Johannesburg last Friday.
Looking at the diverse crowd who were clearly hungry for hope and direction in the midst of the current leadership crisis in our nation, I was reminded of the Mandela Centenary event in Johannesburg that was addressed by former US president Barrack Obama on July 17 last year and was attended by South Africans looking for inspiration from the US statesman.
After the Obama event, I wrote an article titled Mandela legacy, Obamaphoria … and misdirected hope.
Setting the tone
Chief Justice Mogoeng, on the other hand, began his speech with a word of prayer and by saying: “The people of South Africa need hope and only God is the hope giver that matters now.” This set the tone for his speech, and immediately deflected the attention towards God, who is the restorer of all things.
Mogoeng started with a call to love and unity, reminding people that we are all one family, whether we like or not – the South African family; and that now more than ever this family needed to stand together because of the crisis we are in.
He is said: “It is abnormal for family members to walk away when there are challenges,” and gave examples of how people who are far removed from their families would travel distances to be with them in times of need. This, in many ways, was a rebuke to those who threaten to leave or disinvest when the country is in crisis.
Example of Jesus
Leadership, he said was best explained by the words of Jesus in John 10:11 -12 — I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.
By this Mogoeng challenged leaders, in business, Church and everywhere, to introspect and ask themselves if they loved this nation and loved the people.
“The time has come for true spiritual and business leaders to distinguish themselves,” said Mogoeng. Their love for God, the nation and people of South Africa should cause them to rise up and confront the economic, and other social wolves seeking to destroy the nation.
Mogoeng continued his call for ethical leadership and admonished business leaders who inflated prices when providing services to the government, reminding them that government money was ultimately needed to serve the poor.
On the role of the Church, he warned that the Christian community was losing credibility by failing to call out those who were doing wrong within the community. Church leaders’ focus on individual ministries and congregations was also a cause of concern as it weakened the power of the Body of Christ to be a voice in the nation.
On the current crisis of leadership – Mogoeng encouraged people not to be moved, and said that the best is yet to come. He explained the current crisis as a shaking that will remove the chaff and leave only quality behind. This shaking, he said, will expose lies and those who have pretended to be ethical leaders.
Mogoeng went on to remind South Africans of the critical role the country has to play in relation to the continent, saying, Africa cannot move, until South Africa does. Many prophetic words have been spoken about the role of South Africa in God’s global agenda for nations.
It has been said that South Africa is the feet of Africa, which explains why the enemy targeted it with more chains when other nations gained their independence from the 1960s onwards. Instead of being freed, South Africa was bound further by apartheid, which delayed the full realisation of Africa’s independence.
Mogoeng, reminded South Africans, that God has given their nation a special position of leadership and therefore, a greater responsibility not to tolerate greed and corruption which restrain the continent from moving forward.
In his closing remarks, he said: “We need to rebuild our economy, and it will take men and women of integrity to do it.”
He encouraged the audience to be positive, to obey the laws and not to take their money to tax havens, calling this a betrayal of the dream to build the rainbow nation.
Reason to blush
He was asked questions on a number of topics, but there was one that got him to blush. Someone asked if he would consider being a president of South Africa and what could be done to help him become one.
He replied that it is a question he has been asked by many people, and that whatever position he needs to assume in order to serve the nation he would. But he said nothing about what could be done to help him become president.
In addition to the event at Rivers Church, Mogoeng has recently been addressing audiences on leadership across the nation. Recent events have included a Mandela Day event on July 17, a 67 minutes leadership talk hosted by the People Matter Foundation on July 18, and the Directors Event hosted by the Sunday Times on June 28.
At all these recent events the theme of Mogoeng’s talks has been the same — about ethical leadership, citizens playing their role in building the economy, love and unity in the nation – and each time he was given a standing ovation.
One can’t help but be grateful that despite the drama around our current leaders, there is a voice of hope calling South Africans not to give up, but to rise up be part of building this nation. Mogoeng is an example of what it means to be salt and light to the nation, and a gift to the nation at this time of hopelessness and despair.