But shame, more than any other attribute, is crucial to the proper functioning of any country that describes itself as a normal democratic state.
This is one area in which our leaders are letting us down because of their chronic shortage of this quality. The absence of this vital characteristic is steadily eroding citizens’ trust in our leaders.
What true leader would stumble from one scandal to another and still see nothing wrong in campaigning for the highest office in the land and, even worse, still expect to be respected?
What leader would jump to safety and abandon thousands of followers to drown in a sinking ship?
Academic giant and political novice, Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele has only been in politics for less than a year, but is already a graduate in this game of deception, lies, broken promises and self-service.
Make no mistake; Ramphele boasts impeccable credentials and pedigree. While at university she became involved in student politics and anti-apartheid activism, becoming one of the founders of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), where she met Steve Biko.
This former anti-apartheid activist, medical doctor, academic and businesswoman was appointed to the post of vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town in September 1996.
In 2000, Ramphele became one of the four managing directors of the World Bank. She is the first South African to hold this position.
No doubt this is a resumé many people can only dream of. But Ramphele’s latest decision to dump Agang, the party she founded, in favour of the position of presidential candidate of the Democratic Alliance, has revealed her dark side.
It has exposed Ramphele as an opportunist and a self-serving leader. Joining the DA has revealed her as being no different than our current crop of leaders, who never see anything wrong in reneging on their promises.
Before forming Agang, Ramphele rejected overtures from DA leader Helen Zille, who was prepared to step aside and give her the DA leadership without subjecting her to the normal rigorous party leadership contestation processes.
Ramphele chose to go it alone, insisting the majority of voters could not associate with the DA, “a white party”. Ramphele is now battling to convince even her own party members about what has changed so much in the DA in a few months that it has suddenly become acceptable to the black majority.
In her own words the DA is now a “government in waiting”, and a party representing “millions of South Africans who believe in the promise and potential of a multi-party democracy”. This is the same DA Ramphele said her son, as a child of Biko, could never find it in himself to support.
The truth is Ramphele didn’t do as well as she anticipated she would when she launched her own party. Having dismally failed to build structures, Agang was definitely heading for humiliation at the polls.
Contrary to what she would like us to believe, Ramphele’s move has nothing to do with a passion to serve the country. It’s all about saving her political career.
Steven Motale is editor of The Citizen.