Business Leadership South Africa (BSLA) CEO and businessperson Bonang Mohale was on Tuesday awarded the Free Market Foundation’s (FMF’s) tenth Luminary award in recognition of “the outstanding courage and integrity he has displayed through difficult times, for his contributions to the business community and for defending the rights of all South Africans”.
The FMF awards the Luminary award in recognition of inspirational individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the principles of economic freedom and set an example for others.
“Widely recognised as outstanding among his peers for his patriotism and drive to uplift all around him, Mohale is passionate about transformation, people development, constructive collaboration and integrity,” the FMF said in a statement.
In accepting his award, Mohale spoke of leadership: “It is about having a compelling vision, courage and integrity . . . helping our people to be better able to see around corners and to always ask the question, ‘so what else is missing?'”
He also emphasised the roles of government, labour and business in eradicating the legacy of apartheid and 350 years of colonialism.
“The economy is on its knees; young black graduates roam the streets, hopelessly; inequality has widened; racism is at an all-time high; public schooling is broken; public hospitals fail the poor and vulnerable; crucial infrastructure is in decay; lawlessness is epidemic.”
Mohale indicated that, with the free market having become the most widely accepted institution in human history and with the world now converging and disintegrating, the rise of free markets held the key to a peaceful and democratic future.
“Stable democracies . . . possess at least reasonably open market economies. No alternative way of managing the affairs of complex societies has proved workable. The aim must now be to manage capitalism so that it supports democracy and to manage democracy so that it makes global capitalism work better for all.
“Today, we are making a mess of this marriage. We must do far better.”
Mohale highlighted that race and identity still predetermined one’s social and economic position and that, 25 years after the legal end of apartheid, South Africa remains deeply racist, sexist, patriarchal, misogynistic and xenophobic.
“‘Othering’ and bigotry continue to be weekend braai conversation staples.”
Mohale called on the government to ensure a thriving property-owning democracy that was underpinned by home ownership by all – in control of their own land and where asset ownership, as part of belonging to society, was guaranteed.
He encouraged labour to “really care about South Africa’s global competitiveness and thereby free itself of ideology and genuinely be concerned about the wellbeing and resilience of its members.”
“The role of business is to survive; deliver shared value; do no harm; make the world a better place; and to provide ethical leadership. Business must do well by doing good because it cannot continue to be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty.”
Mohale emphasised the need to restore trust, faith and confidence in business and government.
“Business must work much harder. What a strange and wonderful change that would be.”