Attacks on women and children. Inequality. State capture. Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan covered a range of issues while giving the keynote address at the University of Johannesburg’s leadership seminar yesterday afternoon.
The seminar focused on the changing shift in leadership and management on a global scale.
“In an interesting way as we go into the future, people like economist Tony Atkinson would actually argue that inequality should be at the centre of future policy making, and all frameworks should be built around solving inequality, both within a country and across the globe as well,” he said.
Focusing on the rise in inequality, Gordhan said more needs to be done to address this.
“Inequality is a serious issue. We are among the most unequal societies in the world and I’ve said this often enough; a far greater urgency needs to be applied and greater creativity to how we overcome the problem of inequality.”
“It’s not just the politics and economics that matter. It’s also the social dynamic in our society that matters as well. We are a nation in the making,” he said.
Gordhan emphasised that a lot of hard work needs to be done, but part of the hard work is to “inspire younger generations and the value of non-sexism and non-violence”, particularly in the current climate when women and children are the subjects of such violent attacks.
Gordhan also touched on state capture saying that it was important to understand this phenomenon by connecting the dots.
“What does it mean? How does it operate? Who are the beneficiaries? Don’t just see things in their isolated fragments,” he said.
Gordhan said that corruption was a serious issue, and that if we didn’t get a “new moral authority” into our country, there would to be consequences for what is happening.
“We are going to move dangerously close to becoming a kleptocratic state, and that is not where we want to go. That’s not the legacy that Mr [Nelson] Mandela and others left before us”.
He also touched on leadership and technology, and the effect that technology had on economies.
Gordhan explained that due to the rise in technological advancements, people would find themselves at the behest of robots to do their jobs, another downside of globalisation.
“Perhaps the most serious consequence of globalisation has been that in pursuing productivity, you’ve actually had technology coming to the fore, and job losses becoming a serious problem,” he said.
“There’s a flip-side to globalisation that has suddenly come to the fore,” Gordhan said, as he referenced Turkish economist Dani Rodrik.
“There’s a realisation as one of the leading economies that globalisation has resulted in winners and losers and greater note needs to be taken about who are the winners and the losers,” he said.