Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has committed, alongside social partners, to engage immediately, comprehensively and unequivocally in curbing the scourge of corruption that is stifling South Africa’s economy.
Speaking at the 22nd Nedlac Annual Summit under the theme Restoring integrity by combating corruption through good governance, BUSA Vice President Martin Kingston, said business needs to acknowledge that it is often complicit in enabling corruption, benefiting from corruption and has not been adequately strident and outspoken in dealing with corruption where it arises in the private sector.
“South Africa cannot afford the social and economic ramifications of corruption. Corruption undermines our economic and social potential. Together with government, organised labour, and community, we must commit to restoring good governance and decisively acting against corruption”, said Kingston.
Speaking on the side-lines of the Nedlac Summit, Tanya Cohen, CEO of BUSA indicated that BUSA has recently adopted guiding principles to address corruption and embed integrity within business. In this regard BUSA members have pledged to:
1. Adopt the highest ethical standards, levels of accountability, and good governance principles.
2. Pursue a transparent, zero tolerance approach with legal and visible consequences for companies and individuals found to be involved in corruption.
3. Implement processes, controls and procedures to ensure compliance with anti-corruption legislation, including creating conducive conditions for whistle-blowers to come forward.
In supporting its members in the implementation of anti-corruption principles, policies and mechanisms, BUSA is going to add its weight to anti-corruption efforts, raise awareness and identify management tools that are easily accessible to enable best practice in governance within business.
BUSA points to Nedlac as a key forum for collaboration in the fight against corruption. Thus, the recommendation for instituting support mechanisms within Nedlac to build on the Summit theme of restoring integrity by combating corruption through good governance.
As part of the business input to the Summit, Martin Kingston stated that “ Business identified key issues that Nedlac needs to find more effective ways to enable social partners and government to work together and drive economic transformation for inclusive growth; systematically address regulatory burden that is stifling the economy; engage comprehensively on energy matters; address youth employment challenge; and address corruption that is undermining and compromising our social progress.”
BUSA raised concern with the state of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises, especially their governance, sustainability and financial viability, which are all of significant concern to the business community. “This is no more starkly represented than the challenges faced by Eskom, which serves as a proxy for the health of South Africa. As business, we are extremely concerned that Eskom is at a tipping point. The necessity to ensure that Eskom is put on a more sustainable path is a national priority that requires serious consideration and our collective input,” stated Kingston.
BUSA said there is a real risk of further sovereign ratings downgrades, which would exacerbate the current pressures on the fiscus and limit South Africa’s ability as a country to pursue economic and social development. The lack of economic and political certainty has increased businesses’ levels of caution, as reflected in the business confidence index.
Urging all social partners to rededicate their commitment to address all these challenges, BUSA reaffirmed its readiness to deal with corruption, whether it occurs in the private sector or in the public sector.