Open any newspaper, look at any news bulletin and South Africa features in a way that makes most of us uncomfortable.

Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng, speaking at the 14th Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge Memorial Lecture recently, said that until South Africa got its act together, it would be a laughing stock and the prophets of doom would keep saying it was yet another failed African state.

The lack of ethical leadership, the resultant damage to our economy and growing social unrest is demoralising for all of us. The results of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), a survey of ‘ordinary people’ released in December last year, revealed that 83% of South Africans polled believed that corruption was increasing and that 79% believed that government was doing a poor job of combatting corruption.

South Africa slid from 67th to 61st place on Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2015. South Africa also scored a consistent, low 44 out of 100 in the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Corruption Perceptions Index.

But we do not need statistical measures to tell us what we already know, we need action.

Ethical leadership is not just important in government. We all need to take up the ethical leadership challenge in the spheres in which we operate individually. By acting with integrity and following ethical procedures in business, others can be educated and influenced in a positive way.

The ethical leadership challenge our country is facing provides each of us with the opportunity to contribute positively towards building a South Africa that we can be proud of.

“South Africans, it’s now or never. Quicken your conscience to life… You will realise, like I have, that I have been sitting comfortably on a very uncomfortable situation; I have been idling by when my country demanded so much more from me.” – Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng, April 2016