In hindsight it wasn’t the best time to launch an attack on corporate governance. Even in the midst of the assault at the Naspers annual general meeting (AGM) on August 24 2017, it didn’t seem like a good idea. It’s not that corporate governance should not be constantly challenged, but Koos Bekker’s comments on the subject sounded uncomfortably like a rant. "Companies very seldom go under because of a failure of governance. The latter is a hygiene factor," said the chairman of SA’s most valuable company just hours after German business journal Manager Magazin published an article alluding to governance issues that would wipe out R300bn of shareholder value at Steinhoff International four months later. It wasn’t only low-tech companies that were brought low by believing governance was nothing more than a nice-to-have hygiene factor. As it happened 2017 was the year in which SA faced constant reminders of the importance of governance. The evidence was unmissable as the country battled...

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