BLSA CEO’s Letter – 27 June 2022
POSTED ON: June 27, 2022 IN by Admin
With the final Zondo report now tabled, the time has come for action. We must restore South Africa’s reputation as a country where the rule of law can be relied on. The state capture years, through the systematic undermining of public institutions designed to ensure accountability and justice, severely damaged that reputation. Institutional rebuilding has been under way, but there has been reluctance to vigorously investigate and prosecute those responsible for state capture until the Zondo Commission had concluded its work. Now the time has come.
It is a key strategic objective for BLSA to support the prosecuting authorities to succeed. It is critical to our overall mission of ensuring the business environment supports the growth and development of the country. Ineffective criminal investigation and prosecution, particularly in commercial crime, severely damages the business environment. Trust becomes weak, transaction costs become higher, and our ability to engage with the global economy is undermined. It is essential for the whole business community to rally around improving the capacity for commercial crime investigation and prosecution.
Of course, we know there are significant capacity constraints in key points of the criminal justice system. BLSA has long supported policing through Business Against Crime. But we are now focused on ways we can support the system particularly in complex commercial crime investigation leading to successful prosecutions.
The private sector has these skills – forensic investigators, accountants, attorneys and advocates. As we digest the Zondo report, and its recommendations for actions to be taken against specific individuals, we will be thinking through how BLSA can mobilise and deploy these resources in support of the criminal justice system.
The Zondo report leaves much work to be done. While the 5,500 pages cumulatively produced contain a lot of detail, when it comes to specific actions to take, the recommendations largely consist of calls for further investigation. Those investigations can be made easier by the evidence gathered by the Commission, but there will be much more to do to ensure watertight cases can be brought.
We need this to be done fast. From the Financial Action Task Force, a global body considering grey listing South Africa for its perceived inability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, to the local needs of business to operate without fear of extortion or fraud, the economic costs of failure are large. We need to see people prosecuted and sentenced.
There are, of course, signs of progress. The arrest of two of the Gupta brothers in Dubai and the beginning of extradition proceedings, is important. The National Prosecuting Authority just last week began its court prosecution of a company linked to Iqbal Sharma, alleged to have been fraudulently paid R24.9m by the Free State Department of Agriculture – money which found its way to a Gupta company. The NPA should be applauded for this work, just as much as we acknowledge how much more there is to be done.
BLSA will be working on ways we can support the process. There will be engagements with members to determine the best routes to follow. I look forward to working with all our members to mobilise the resources necessary.
The auditor-general’s shocking report on the state of SA’s municipalities and the NPA’s disclosure in parliament of the extent of corruption in local government highlight the urgency of the need to develop a capable state free from cadre deployment, I write in Business Day. Dysfunctional municipalities repel business and increase joblessness. Furthermore they contribute to our energy crisis as they owe Eskom R25.7bn. These are political problems caused by the governing party’s determination to give jobs to incompetent cadres and thus require urgent political solutions.
South Africa is headed towards a critical state because warnings of water insecurity have been ignored for too long, I write in Fin24. The lack of action on developing new infrastructure and basic maintenance on existing infrastructure make the task of achieving water security all the more difficult. The solution to our water crisis is to rehabilitate municipalities and streamline processes and systems to better facilitate the private-public partnerships that are key to infrastructure projects rollout.
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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