The flagship event of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) – secured the Director, Mr Joel Netshitenzhe, to deliver the 8th Mapungubwe Annual Lecture on the theme: Can South Africa’s Civilisation of national democracy sustain itself.
Hosted by MISTRA in partnership with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the event took place virtually on Wednesday, 02 December 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lecture was, for the first time, an online-only event, delivered at the University’s campus.
In his opening remarks, Mr Netshitenzhe noted how all of us are vulnerable to coronavirus, but in practice how well we fare has to do with what we could call pre-existing conditions that are not only medical but economic, social, political and racial – and the pandemic, which is also an economic catastrophe, has made these differences glaringly clear. The Mapungubwe annual lecture is a way for modern researchers, academics, policy-makers and former governance practitioners to reflect on the leadership that both bolster a fledgling democracy and push the boundaries of limited expectation of our fractured history.
Mr Netshitenzhe’s address was a timely reflection on the leadership needed across industry, government and internationally. He probed on why do nations succeed and how do civilisations sustain themselves. “How the environment is managed should be a fundamental element in defining civilization. The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented ‘black swan’ event and South Africa’s liberators are required to manage both the oppressed and the oppressors.”
The MISTRA leader called for South Africans to characterize the national democracy as a civilization and aptly noted that the pandemic is reminding us again about the political economy debate on the power balance between the state, the market and the citizen. Somehow, even after massive state interventions during the recent global financial crisis, economic orthodoxy drifted back to celebration of a minimal role for the state. Its redistributive and regulatory responsibilities are presented as an inconvenience. The powerful turn a blind eye to worsening inequality; they apply plaster on a festering wound; and they direct research towards military ambitions and narrow corporate interests. One way this could be achieved, he said, is through education and using digital technology as a great enabler and equalizer.
- You can watch the full recording of the preceding addresses and Mr Netshitenzhe’s keynote address, as well as the subsequent Q&A session here.