Defend Truth


There is favour in being courageous – just ask the Springboks


Bonang Mohale is the President of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor of Practice in the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) College of Business and Economics, and Chairman of both The Bidvest Group Limited and SBV Services. He is the author of the best-selling book, ‘Lift As You Rise’ and 'Behold The Turtle'! He has been included in the Reputation Poll International’s (RPI) 2023 list of the 100 Most Reputable Africans. The selection criteria are Integrity, Reputation, Transparency, Visibility and Impact.

The Boks are indeed a beacon of hope amidst numerous challenges as they literally put their own lives and limbs on the line. No wonder that the collective psyche, mood, confidence, trust and hope is so high. 

“The past is a place of reference and not a place of residence.”

This is the Rugby World Cup (RWC) made all the way from up above with two of the best teams in the world fighting it out. In wake of what we are facing these days, Jehovah knows that South Africa desperately needed some good news. Even though New Zealand (All Blacks) have played in two more Rugby World Cups than South Africa, we still broke the record as the first and only country to win the RWC four times (1995, 2007, 2019 and 2023). The second after New Zealand (2011 and 2015) to win it back to back (2019 and 2023).

Just to prove the point of our supremacy, we beat the host, France, England and New Zealand by one point. The Springboks (Boks) won when it mattered most. The Boks played New Zealand 105 times, won 39 times, lost 62 times and drew four times. Some of the milestones are that Faf de Klerk and Handré Pollard started together as halfback combination for the 25th time, moving past Joost van der Westhuizen and Henry Honiball (24 Tests) as the most experienced halfbacks in Springbok history. Bongi Mbonambi will move into joint fourth place on the list of most starts at hooker, passing Malcolm Marx with his 35th start. The first four on the list are John Smit (81), Bismarck du Plessis (50), James Dalton (40) and Adriaan Strauss (35). The Boks have played 12 Tests against four different opponents at the Stade de France, winning nine. Used off the bench, Trevor Nyakane played his 49th Test as a replacement for South Africa. Only Steven Kitshoff (54) has more appearances as a substitute.

The Boks and the All Blacks have met on five previous occasions at a Rugby World Cup. The Boks won the first two (the final in 1995 and the third-place playoff in 1999) and New Zealand the other three (quarterfinal in 2003, semifinal in 2015 and pool match in 2019). This was the most experienced team in Springbok history with a combined total of 987 caps (eclipsing the record set the previous week against England of 895 Test caps). There are 348 caps in the backline, with 639 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 301 caps. The average caps per player in the backline is 50, the forwards 80, while the players on the bench average 38. The Boks are indeed a  beacon of hope amidst numerous challenges as they literally put their own lives and limbs on the line. No wonder that the collective psyche, mood, confidence, trust and hope is so high. 

To both deepen and widen this sense of unity, and therefore ensure that it is not transient, all the social partners must redouble efforts to ensure that it is not just superficial. We  must reverse the current reality that 29 years into democracy, all of us have not succeeded in eradicating the legacy of apartheid – that poverty still has primarily an African and feminine face. Economic power patterns have been set for generations to come, until and unless we all act now.

Transforming South Africa into a developmental state requires building critical and necessary capabilities to foster an environment which mobilises government and non-government contributions to realise changes in the socioeconomic structure and the culture of society. The role of citizens in a government is to participate in the democratic process by casting their votes for policymakers, engaging in peaceful protest or activism when needed, and speaking with elected officials about issues that matter to them. Citizens are also responsible for following government laws and regulations, paying taxes to fund public goods and services. By staying informed and participating in the political process, citizens can help shape the direction of policy and the priorities of their government.

Civil society is the aggregate of non-governmental organisations and institutions that involve diverse cultural, religious and special interest groups that represent and implement the interests and will of citizens, and enforce social norms. It is also the space in which social movements are organised to represent diverse and sometimes contradictory social interests – like a social fabric that provides stability to a society. It is where people talk, create, engage and support each other. Civil society organisations have a critical role. They are an important source of information for both citizens and the government. They monitor government policies and actions, and hold the government accountable. They engage in advocacy and offer alternative policies for government, the private sector and other institutions. They advocate people’s rights and demands, and provide charity and relief to those in need by pressing the government and private sector to ensure public safety, education, environmental responsibility, social health and economic rights. Civil society acts as the connecting link between state and society. Civil society can be understood as the “third sector” of society, distinct from government and business and the private sphere.

A trade union is an organisation formed by workers in a particular trade, industry or company that engages in collective bargaining with an employer to protect workers’ economic status and working conditions. One of a trade union’s main aims is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the workplace, and to ensure fair wages, benefits and working conditions for union members and enable workers to come together as a powerful, collective voice to communicate with management about their working terms and conditions, like to specify workers’ pay, hours, benefits, job health and safety policies. A trade union’s most important aim is to fortify and improve the welfare of its members in the workplace. Their purpose is to assist their members to grow their personal wealth by negotiating profit and sharing participation plans with their employers. They have played a substantial role in promoting access to financial services. Many of the rights we enjoy at work today were won because workers came together in trade unions and fought for them – from the five-day working week to sick pay to maternity (and paternity) leave, mainly through the three main labour laws: the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Equity Act. Trade unions can help raise productivity in the workplace by participating with management in the search for better ways of organising production.

Government provides the parameters for everyday behavior for citizens, protects them from outside interference, and often provides for their well-being and happiness. The role of the state should be confined to what individuals cannot do for themselves, such as provide security, put in place the necessary legal framework, act as mediator between supranational institutions with regard to trade, provide a clean and safe environment, economic stability, provide public transport, etc. It is responsible for making and enforcing laws, collecting taxes, providing public goods and services, and representing the interests of the people, protecting the boundaries of the country and maintaining peaceful relations with other countries. It is responsible for ensuring that all its citizens have enough to eat and have good health facilities. When there are natural disasters like the tsunami or an earthquake, it is the government that mainly organises aid and assistance for the affected people. The government balances the goals and decides the mixture of policies for society, seeks to balance the interests of the individual with the interests of the community – its most important purpose is protection – deals with essential services and is rooted in the power of the people.

The NDP sets out a long-term vision for the country and is the programme through which South Africa aims to advance radical economic transformation through development planning. Government’s 2019-2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework outlines the priorities to be implemented in the Sixth Administration and the seven priorities, as economic transformation and job creation; education, skills and health; consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services; spatial integration, human settlements and local government; social cohesion and safe communities; a capable, ethical and developmental state; and a better Africa and World.

The purpose of a business is to organise some sort of economic production of goods or services. To offer value (through products and/or services) to customers, who pay for the value with cash or equivalents. This refers to the reason why a company exists. It is the underlying motivation or driving force that shapes a company’s strategy, culture and decisions. A strong purpose is essential for building a successful and sustainable business. It provides clarity and direction for the organisation, guides decision-making and helps build a strong brand identity. Mobilising employees around a common purpose benefits your company culture, brand reputation and business performance. Business leaders today are increasingly aware of the critical need to connect employees to a sense of meaning and purpose at work. The purpose of a business, in other words, is not to make a profit, full stop. It is to make a profit so that the business can do something more or better. Because a business cannot exist outside of society, and must satisfy a specific social purpose and need in order to stay in business. It has to create or add additional value to the community or individuals. That is why the real purpose of a business is to create customers.

Henry Ford knew workers should be able to buy the cars they make. Why don’t we? DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    “… all of us have not succeeded in eradicating the legacy of Apartheid..”
    Well, ‘we’ might have done, if the country hadn’t been taken over by ‘typical’ ‘African’ style thieves and incompetents! Dear heaven, you can only blame Apartheid for so much.

  • Chris Heymans says:

    Steve Davidson’s comment is completely unasked for. Dr Mohale’s article is a serious attempt to draw constructive messages from the Springbok’s win, and does not deserve this emotive outburst. Nowhere did the Mohale piece blame it all on apartheid – it is a considered attempt to draw inspiration from the rugby, applied to the wider issues South Africa has to address, and nowhere does it attribute the current problems to apartheid only. In fact, it calls for inspiration from our sport heroes’ commitment, tolerance and achievements.

    And that said, Mr. Davidson, apartheid does indeed remain a structural legacy that continues to undermine the building of a just, functional and merit-based society and economy, even if may not be the sole driver of today’s failure to address the challenges we experience.

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