Calling for visible leadership in the fight against corruption, the Minerals Council South Africa has urged the President and the law enforcement authorities to act urgently against those within his government, and those businesses and other citizens who have looted public funds, including funds in tended to ease the impact of COVID-19.
The Minerals Council, responding to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s letter to ANC members about corruption, said the extent of corruption had not only damaged the reputation of the ANC but also of South Africa as a credible investment destination.
“We welcome the President’s initiative in issuing this letter, but caution that its value will have to be measured in the extent to which guilty parties are actually brought to account,” says Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter.
“Thus far we have seen limited real decisive action, let alone the kinds of prosecutions that could reassure the country that the blatant corruption we have witnessed in the last few months, and in the last decade, would lead to satisfactory outcomes.”
Action cannot equate to yet another commission of inquiry; it means action on the ground. The Minerals Council believes the law enforcement agencies need to be allowed to act independently and need to be capacitated to do so.
The National Prosecuting Authority, South African Revenue Service, the Hawks and the various intelligence agencies should be allowed to do their work without fear or prejudice. But it is not just these agencies that need to restore their integrity, it’s all those who serve the country that need to restore the morality on which the Rainbow Nation was built 26 years ago.
This applies equally to business: for corruption to occur in government, there is often a private sector counterparty that, equally, must be brought to book. Just as it will take all stakeholders–government, business, organised labour and civil society–to restore our economy, it is going to take a collective effort to ensure this is indeed a turning point in the fight against corruption and a return to an ethical society led by an ethical leadership.
This time the pillaging of funds could have cost lives. In this case, corruption is not just criminal, it is a crime against South Africa’s people. South Africa and her people deserve better. It’s time to make morality matter.