About 10% of the population in this country pay taxes. What if that 10% didn’t pay taxes for four weeks of the year? I’m not saying we must, but what if …?" Just to be clear, Phuti Mahanyele, chair of Sigma Capital, wasn’t calling for a tax revolt when she said this at a Financial Mail panel discussion at Johannesburg’s Inanda Club last week. Rather, her point was that the corporate sector ought to embrace activism. "The reality is, we have got power, and we need to stop giving it to someone else to speak to us. We need to start using it, because we are the ones affected, our children are the ones affected, our families are the ones affected," she said. The power of South Africans’ tax contributions was, in fact, a much-debated topic by the panel, which also included Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk and Lonmin CEO Ben Magara, and was hosted by Sanlam Private Wealth CEO Daniël Kriel. But the panel’s emotions were tangibly raw, mirroring the mood in executive suites around the country followi...

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