Black economic-empowerment (BEE) business leaders who succeeded in the past predominantly through political clout, rather than entrepreneurial initiative, were no longer regarded as iconic, a new study by the Reputation Institute South Africa has found.
The survey, RepTra Leader South Africa 2012, was conducted among economically active people and rated the leadership qualities of the current top business, political and BEE figures in South Africa.
The survey found that there had been a shift in the reputations of BEE business leaders from similar surveys conducted previously.
The ratings of all those surveyed in terms of respondents’ emotional connections to leaders showed that mining magnate Patrice Motsepe achieved the highest score with 64.56.
In overall second place was Congress of South Africa Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (61.17), followed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in third place with a rating of 59.93. MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa (59.38) and SAB Miller’s CEO Graham Mackay (59.31) took fourth and fifth places respectively.
Meanwhile BEE leaders Cyril Ramaphosa (55.54), Tokyo Sexwale (54.75) and Saki Macozoma (54.74) were placed 13th, 15th and 16th in the survey respectively.
President Jacob Zuma faired poorly, achieving a score of 36.38, beating only former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, who scored 29.02.
“Despite their philanthropic initiatives they have failed to convince the public that their involvement in the economy has helped to build a more equitable society or has benefited South Africans at large. This provides an opportune moment for a new conversation about making BEE work for those in real need of empowerment,” Reputation Institute South Africa MD Dominik Heil said.
With an average score of 49.4, politicians in South Africa performed better than other world political leaders, who scored 43.20 in a similar survey in 2011, while South African business CEOs, with an average score of 55.68, fared worse than the global average for business leaders of 59.80.
Heil said the Reputation Institute conducted the study to give an informed baseline to the debate about the kind of leadership that is needed in South Africa to achieve a shared vision for society.
“Those leaders who have done well in the survey seemingly demonstrate a good understanding of the space that they occupy in society and are perceived to occupy it with vision, integrity and in a way that earns respect, even if people do not agree with everything they say or do,” he added.
The survey was conducted over a period of several weeks in January and February 2012.