BLSA CEO’s Newsletter – 21 February 2022
POSTED ON: February 21, 2022 IN by Admin
The rule of law is strongly in the interest of business. Without the certainty of a clear legal framework, backed up by rigorous investigation and prosecution, business is far harder to do. Markets can’t function without confidence in the security of property and contract. Corruption, which systematically undermines that confidence, comes at a high price to business and the economy.
This is why I think it is a good idea for business to support our prosecution authorities in the effort to bring to book those implicated in various state capture investigations, particularly the Zondo commission. It is clear that the National Prosecuting Authority, and the senior levels of our investigation services, have struggled to find the resources necessary to ensure successful prosecutions. This is itself a legacy of state capture – key institutions of our criminal justice system were undermined as part of a deliberate strategy to ensure impunity. Those deep scars are still with us, and those of us in business are eager to help the healing process and see it through.
There are two main ways that business can assist – skills and financial resources. We have in our ranks highly capable forensic investigators, researchers, advocates, attorneys and others who can support investigation and prosecution. There are also potential ways that business can support by deploying financial resources to support prosecutions.
I was encouraged by comments in parliament last week by NPA head Shamila Batohi that she is considering engaging with the private sector to access resources to support the NPA’s work. I think there is a clear sentiment on the side of business to provide the support necessary for prosecutions.
Of course, it is critical that any such support is provided on the appropriate terms. Our criminal justice system and judiciary is a key part of our government and its independence is sacrosanct. The constitutionally appropriate institutions must always be responsible for decisions made on prosecutions (with the narrow exception of private prosecutions, which may also have a role to play).
Any support the private sector provides can only be as an agent, never a principal. We are of course well aware that corruption was perpetrated not only by those in the public sector but in the private sector too, and justice must be done without fear or favour.
The appropriate mechanisms will need to be developed to ensure the right terms to govern any such support. Batohi has proposed a trust as one such mechanism. I think the idea has merit, with governance invested in a suitable set of trustees such as retired judges.
There are I believe ways that the different spheres of our society can come together to ensure we deliver justice to all those implicated in state capture, and corruption more broadly. BLSA is certainly willing to work with the NPA and other parts of the criminal justice system to design appropriate methods. BLSA has a proud of history of supporting the fight against crime broadly through Business Against Crime, a division within BLSA. This has played a complementary function to the police and other institutions to ensure the private sector’s information and other resources can appropriately support the fight against crime.
I look forward to working with our social partners to explore ways we can come together to ensure that justice is done and our society can rebuild trust that the rule of law reigns supreme.
South Africa’s lack of a quality education system is a shameful blight on our democratic history, I wrote in @fin24. Education cannot resolve the country’s critical issues on its own – good policy and effective implementation are other key ingredients – but transforming the quality of our education system would address many of our problems over the long term.
While BLSA believes there were some missed opportunities in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent state-of-the-nation address, I wrote in Business Day that we welcome his strong commitment to pursue and accelerate prosecutions against those implicated in Covid-related tenders and in Judge Raymond Zondo’s reports into state capture. BLSA is committed to supporting prosecution processes and capacitating the NPA and we are assessing ways in which we can do so without compromising any ethical considerations.
This is a weekly newsletter from BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso.
BLSA is a business organisation that believes in South Africa’s future and shares the values set out in the Constitution. In 2017, BLSA signed a contract with South Africa, committing business to playing its part in creating a South Africa of increasing prosperity for all by harnessing the resources and capabilities of business in partnership with government and civil society to deliver economic growth, transformation and inclusion.
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