Religion and Race – Abraham Joshua Heschel
‘At the first conference on religion and race, the main participants were Pharaoh and Moses. Moses’ words were: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me.” While Pharaoh retorted: “Who is the Lord, that I should heed this voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go.”
‘The outcome of that summit meeting has not come to an end. Pharaoh is not ready to capitulate. The exodus began, but is far from having been completed. In fact, it was easier for the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea than for a Negro to cross certain university campuses.’
(1963, reprinted in The Insecurity of Freedom. Essays on Human Existence. 1967)
ANC General Secretary Gwede Mantashe has criticised Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for remarks made in a lecture on ethical leadership, Mantashe depicts this as commenting on the Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla and therefore bearing the danger of the Concourt becoming ‘populist’
It is important to realise that any lecture on ethics, referring to integrity, offering favours to friends, patronage, conflicts of interest, accountability and many other questions will raise questions about any person who performs in a manner that shows lapses in integrity. By definition we will think of Zuma even if his name is not mentioned. His ethical flaws are in our faces. We see these every day and we see that the ANC leadership is loath to address them.
But we have to talk about ethical leadership in order to avoid repeating the error of 2007 where those complaining about the leadership flaws attributed to Thabo Mbeki sought to remedy these by electing someone else without adequately scrutinising the person’s qualities. Regrettably, there is insufficient debate about what we need in place of Zuma, for it is not purely the Nkandla ruling that has led to his needing to be removed. We need to ask, beyond simply removing Zuma, what are the reasons for doing that and what are the qualities we require in whoever replaces him. We also need to state what we require from leadership more generally in order to hold a president and others accountable