May 16 2018

Inspiring integrity for the nation

In the absence of ethical conduct, organisations fall apart. But it a lapse in integrity doesn’t just impact organisations or individuals. Look at our country – we may be living in a time of hope, but the trust deficit still haunts us!

These were the words of Professor Thuli Madonsela who was speaking at an Integrity Networking Breakfast held in Cape Town yesterday (May 16). “It is a question of ‘do you want to pay now or do you want to pay later’?” she said. “People who choose the wrong path now, because of need or greed, will discover that their secrets will come out and they will end up in a lower place than they were when they started. And the legacy of shame will be passed on to their children and grandchildren.”

The breakfast event, and the upcoming National Integrity Forum were the brainchild of Charissa Bloomberg, CEO of Hidden Dimensions Corporate Training Consultants, who is working with Professor Madonsela as her project manager at Stellenbosch University’s Social Justice Faculty.

“Integrity starts with self-leadership,” Bloomberg said. “Integrity costs nothing, but when you lose it, you lose everything. An organisation’s success depends on the integrity of its leaders – and remember, we are all the CEOs of our own lives.”

“Integrity may start with the small decisions we make on a daily basis, but it should also cascade into bold actions that can transform our society,” said Francois Viljoen, Marketing Manager at South Africa Online (, the headline sponsor of the event and an ambitious project to construct a digital soul for our nation.

“As leaders, we need to realise that our words, actions and decisions create our true values and ultimately our culture. Ironically, the issues of character and morality have a direct bearing on economic and technological development. We need to address the fundamental question about the kind of people we want to become in future and to articulate our moral vision,” Viljoen said.

Taking part in a panel discussion at the event were Faizal Sayed, DEEN TV talkshow host, and Mbusowabantu Madonsela, Managing Trustee of the Thuma Foundation. “We need to re-evaluate what it is that is at the core of our value system. What do we perceive to be success?” Mr Madonsela asked. “People say they want integrity but, at the same time, we look up to a billionaire because of his ‘success’ in spite of the fact that he is involved with hundreds of shady business deals. We need to rather be applauding people based on the values that we have as a society. Winning is about playing the game beautifully, not getting the material prize.” “Before you allow yourself an integrity lapse, you need to question the consequences of your decision,” Sayed said. “Are you getting yourself in a situation that you will not be able to escape, because of your need for instant gratification?”

Yesterday’s meeting was the start of a journey to inspire integrity universally, and the launch of the National Integrity Forum –a first for South Africa – which will be held on 7 and 8th of November, 2018.

“When one light flickers in the dark you can barely see the impact,” Madonsela concluded. “But when you put the lights together, the impact can be seen and felt, and that is what the Integrity Forum is about.

“The idea is to find ways to walk the talk in terms of doing the right thing, and to find ways of recognising and affirming integrity not just in the country but in the entire world. For integrity to pay off in the way that we need it too, we need to be part of building the world we would like to live in.”

For more information about the Integrity Forum, email
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