It is safe to say that the #GuptaLeaks and the broader issue of #StateCapture have had a devastating impact on South Africa’s reputation at home and abroad. While the ANC has expressed concern about the allegations contained in the #GuptaLeaks emails, the state’s response has fallen far short of expectations.
Lawson Naidoo of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, was quite right when he was quoted in a newspaper as saying: “These [Gupta] email leaks emphasise the need for a proper judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. There is more than sufficient circumstantial evidence that points to a criminal conspiracy to loot state resources and undermine our constitutional foundations. There needs to be full disclosure of all these deals and relationships, and accountability in terms of the law for transgressions; including criminal sanctions where appropriate. Our hard-won democracy is not for sale.”
By contrast, the response of the corporate sector has been significantly more encouraging. The allegations against several companies, including Bell Pottinger, have been met with swift condemnation and corrective action – including suspensions of top leadership pending investigations.
Corruption rarely flourishes in isolation. All of us have to be vigilant and adhere to the high standards that we expect from the public sector. To this end, the leadership shown by the private sector in response to charges of corruption related to #StateCapture matters. It is imperative that all sectors of South African society contribute to projecting a positive image of the country in order to attract investments and general goodwill for South Africa. Needless to say, all of this has to be done in a climate of socioeconomic and political stability.
Enormous sums of money are lost to corruption every year. Those most hurt by corruption are our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Government can and must do more to root out public sector corruption, especially at the highest levels.
Government cannot, on its own, achieve everything that needs to be done. Business Leadership SA also has a role to play. We are determined to play that role honestly, transparently, fairly, and with the sole aim of growing our efforts in contributing to the development of a truly inclusive economy.
South Africa has come a long way from the dark days of apartheid and the journey we have to travel is far from over.
Mohale is CEO of Business Leadership SA and will be discussing the contribution of corporate South Africa to the country’s domestic and global brand image at the SA Brand Summit in November. For more, go to sabrandsummit.co.za