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Ruth Cummings Gombe
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The Art of 'Incentivising'

08 December 2012, 19:16

So I generally avoid discussing politics in public forums because...well...I just have a limited interest in it.  Especially when there is so much going on and little being done, enough said!  However, because this case is not just about politics but about leadership, I feel I must comment on it.

I listened on the news and later read the article here on News24 that President Jacob Zuma is a 'Kept Man.'  This is cause for concern because leadership - or should I say, good leadership is all about leading by example.  So, where do we draw the line in terms of defining words like 'favours' or 'incentives' versus good old 'bribery', especially if the 'keptition' involves a return for the giver? (Yes, the situation warranted me creating my own word).

Let me just clarify that I have not read the full KPMG report mentioned in the article, but based on the tidbits I have about the situation, it is still enough to draw me into commentary.  I am just trying to understand the difference between being 'given' financial assistance or whatever it was and ugly words like bribery, because sometimes getting good service or just service can be excrutiating. Perhaps the President has found a solution? 

So, say for instance the Joburg Water officials come over to read my water metre, am I allowed to offer them an allowance or lump sum to skip over my house going forward?  Or if, in my line of work, I want to get a huge contract to facilitate workshops for a large corporate, can I offer them an 'incentive' to help their decision?  Or maybe I should not be defining what the incentive is for, is that where we draw the line to differentiate?

I believe that leadership is all about being transparent, honest, having integrity, being someone that people look up to and want to follow for the right reasons.  Right now, I look at the younger generations and wonder what they think leadership is all about?  Do they bear the distorted view that leadership is about being in a position to influence who does what and who gets what based on what they can do for you?  If so, we cannot blame them, this is what our news bulletins are filled with. 

It's not just about the President, major corporates have dropped our jaws when details emerge of how they acquire contracts or deals.  So while the rest of us slough away and spend sleepless nights perfecting our presentation, our pitch and our motivations, those in power simply check their budget to see how much they can throw in or what they will accept to 'sweeten' the deal. MTN still has a case involving an Iranian Ambassador....AMBASSADOR?  Someone who came here to represent his country?

I bet the retaliation from the Presidency will involve accusations, denials and explanations heavily coated in None'ya (None of your business) and threats to those who go on about the issue.  

I think our leaders, both in politics and business, need to clean up their act and stop this 'follow me, I'm right behind you' leadership style.  So Mr President and others involved in these dealings, perhaps you might not relish the idea of the public discussing your 'personal' affairs, but we also do not relish the idea of our leaders being involved in underhanded deals. 

If an ordinary citizen is in debt (as the article mentioned that President Zuma was R400 000 in debt at some point and was bailed out by former President Mandela), we ordinary citizens are punished in so many ways - being blacklisted, denied housing or any other loans and even unable to get a job in financial institutions and other organisations. 

We are told that we cannot be employed as our financial status displays irresponsibility, inability to manage our own affairs and therefore cannot be trusted to manage clients affairs.  How about the person who is lined up to lead or is leading not just a portfolio of clients, but a whole nation?  Or a whole corporation?

I am sure I speak on behalf of all those who are as astounded as I am by the KPMG report, we would really like to see a situation where leaders are also held accountable for their actions.  Right now, most of us citizens' view of leadership is becoming more and more distorted by what we hear.

Lead from within, and lead by example.

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