Mr Bonang Mohale, highly respected businessman and CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BSLA*) received the Free Market Foundation’s (FMF) 10th 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 presentation of the award took place at a distinguished ceremony hosted at Discovery Holdings’ prestigious Sandton office where guests were welcomed and proceedings were opened by Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba, Group executive director, Discovery Limited. Mr Mohale was introduced by Nic Frangos, chairman of the Luminary Committee followed by the presentation of the award by FMF chairman Ayanda Khumalo.
The FMF bestows the prestigious Luminary award in recognition of inspirational individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the principles of economic freedom and set an example to others. Widely recognised as outstanding among his peers for his patriotism and drive to uplift all around him, Mr Mohale is passionate about transformation, people development, constructive collaboration and integrity. Bonang Mohale joins an illustrious group of FMF Luminaries** who share these values.
In accepting his award, Mr 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 emphasised the roles of government, labour and business in eradicating the legacy of apartheid and the 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.”
He continued, “We must all, collectively, do much more to eradicate the nightmare and deep horrors that rendered black people and women both victims and survivors - dehumanised, dispossessed, violated, oppressed and repressed. Race and identity still pre-determine one’s social and economic position.”
Mohale drew on several leading opinion makers including America’s Michael Mandelbaum, and spoke of “Three ideas that conquered the world: peace as the preferred basis for relations between and among different countries; democracy as the optimal way to organise political life, and free markets as the indispensable vehicle for the creation of wealth”. He said, “The free market has become the most widely accepted institution in all of human history and now, as the world is converging and disintegrating, the rise of free markets holds the key to a peaceful and democratic future.”
He continued, “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.”
He said that race and identity still pre-determine 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.”
He said that government must ensure a thriving property-owning democracy that is underpinned by home ownership by all - in control of their own (land) destiny where asset ownership, as part of belonging to society is 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.”
He concluded with thoughts of the French Revolution and the three famous ‘freedoms’: Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité - liberty, equality and fraternity. “Liberty is our ‘long struggled for’ freedom - freedom of speech, association, and freedom from hunger. Equality of individuals and, in particular, ‘relational equality’. The most profound for me is - fraternity- brotherhood - this notion that ‘we care about each other and one another’.”
Issued by The BLSA & FMF