Organised business calls for whistleblower protection fund as it looks to play more active role in fighting corruption.
Denouncing the gross levels of crime and corruption in South Africa, organised business has established an anti-corruption guide for corporate executives, which also calls for companies to set up protection funds for whistleblowers.
Speaking at the launch of the guide, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso said the private sector should be allowed to do its bit in fighting corruption in a way that only the private sector can, decrying a “state capture project” that remains prevalent within state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Vested interest in ensuring ‘country works’
She pointed to the BLSA’s contribution towards a R50 million graft probe into Eskom, which drew criticism earlier this year. The BLSA provided a sum of R18 million for the investigation, a contribution the lobby group had to defend.
“Institutions like the BLSA, on the request of the CEO of Eskom, [funded] an investigation report into Eskom… to [give to] the SIU… Then you have government crying foul, saying, ‘What the hell are you doing getting involved?’,” Mavuso said.
She said BLSA has a vested interest in ensuring that South Africa is a country that works.
“…Because this is not government’s country; this is South Africa’s country, and if South Africa fails, then we lose as much as all South Africans,” said Mavuso.
The guide, unveiled by the Gordon Institute of Businesses Science (Gibs) in partnership with BLSA, was launched against the backdrop of a country that has faced abject levels of crime and corruption over the past decade, within both public and private sector entities, which has contributed the stalling the country’s economic growth.
Rooting out corruption
The 40-page guide sets out a framework for South African companies in a bid to root out crime and corruption.
It was written by Financial Mail editor Rob Rose, who has played a major role in covering some of South Africa’s biggest corporate corruption scandals, notably in Steinhoff and Tongaat Hulett, among others.
Its foreword was drafted by Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke, with other contributions from the founding director of the Gibs Centre for Business Ethics, Rabbi Gideon Pogrund, Business Unity South Africa CEO Cas Coovadia, Mavuso, South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter, and others.
The guide lists 38 core principles, including dealing with corruption from the top down, stipulating that contracts with the state be placed before a company’s complete board for approval, and running regular risk assessments to detect illicit activity.
It also proposes that whistleblowers, who have often been targeted for reporting unethical activities within organisations, be encouraged to come forward on a confidential basis and recommends that companies set up protection funds to protect whistleblowers and offer them rewards.
Zondo praises whistleblower proposal
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who in his state capture report recommended the same, lauded the whistleblower proposal.
“Those who may be tempted to engage in corruption must know… that once they have been found out, there will be serious adverse consequences. The way to make sure that they will be found out is to make sure that whistleblowers are protected and are given incentives in order to blow the whistle,” he said.
“The private sector should consider setting up a fund. Let us not wait for government; government will do what it will do. But I think that the private sector can easily set up such a fund. And a lot of people who love this country, a lot of people who hate corruption, [will] make a donation,” Zondo said.