Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. PICTURE: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/THE TIMES
Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. PICTURE: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/THE TIMES

Corporate social investment has the power to help bring about social justice and to end poverty‚ inequality and unemployment, says Thuli Madonsela.

The former public protector delivered the keynote address at the 11th annual Trialogue Business in Society Conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"Business is in a position of power and privilege, and business has a voice‚ in the same way that when you become an advocate‚ you have a voice.

"It also means that you have an obligation to leverage your influence for good‚" said Madonsela‚ who is now the social justice chair at the law faculty of Stellenbosch University.

She said the indignities imposed by poverty‚ inequality and unemployment could pose a threat to democracy.

The indignities imposed by poverty‚ inequality and unemployment are a potential threat to democracy, the former public protector says

Effective corporate social investment could drive justice‚ "where the Millennium Development Goals become community goals, and where social justice has the power to help insulate a nascent democracy from the peril of corruption and exclusion‚ and inequality between and within communities".

"It may take hundreds of years to address the legacy of apartheid‚ but even if apartheid had never happened‚ it would still be our duty to make sure nobody is left behind. Corporate social investment might not be able to end inequality but it can reduce its extremity‚" Madonsela said.

She encouraged delegates to the conference to examine the role of business in helping to bring about systemic social change by supporting social justice interventions.

Bonang Mohale‚ CEO of Business Leadership SA‚ who was also a speaker at the event‚ said business had to focus on both state building and the appointment of ethical leaders.

"As business‚ we must join hands with other social partners to hold elected leaders accountable and insist on being involved in policy-making," he said.

"We need to do everything in our power not to become another failed African state. Investors want us to succeed — because they know we can realise the SA of Mandela’s dreams."

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