SA’s democracy under attack
Addressing SA’s leaders in government, business and civil society at the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Directors Event on June 9, Bonang Mohale, chairman of Shell SA and the deputy chairman of Business Leadership South Africa, said that SA’s constitution and democratic values were under attack.
SA’s constitution has always been what has made the country’s democracy successful, said Mohale. It has been the line that separates the country’s best from its worst, good from evil, right from wrong and freedom of speech from hate speech. He said, however, that SA’s constitution and its democratic values are at risk and under attack. The country had lost credibility in the eyes of ordinary people and experts alike.
Mohale said corruption was the country’s tipping point and this would be what determined whether it would operate according to state capture, or as a democracy which served all. Our state entities, he added, had to work well, or we would lose everything. It was the responsibility of businesses in SA to protect its reputation and to fight against what Mohale termed “state capture becoming corporate capture”.
Business Leadership South Africa had developed the “State Integrity Six Pack”, a series of six guidelines that could reverse the vicious cycle towards the downward trajectory SA finds itself on, he said.
The first is to launch a judicial enquiry into state capture. Next, Mohale said, the nuclear programme had to be shelved and an objective assessment had to take place over the next two years. The public sector must be depoliticised and appointments made through a transparent process. Transformation must be reflective of the country’s demographics and reflect social cohesion. Best practice procedures must be adopted by the state; state entities such as the judiciary, the police, the national prosecuting authority, the Hawks and all others must have new leadership and become independent of political influence. These institutions must be set up in such a way that they are respected by all. Finally, the funding of political parties must be transparent, building integrity both in the state and society.
Mohale said rebuilding SA in the face of determined opponents such as the Guptas was a challenging task and should start at a business level, led by an ethical code. It was a fragile project, he said, and one that required proof that we could celebrate true transformation by fundamentally breaking with the past so that the present did not start to resemble the system we had just replaced.
He concluded by saying that business was the answer to SA’s problems, not its enemy as now portrayed.
The big take-out: At the recent Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Directors Event Business Leadership South Africa’s Bonang Mohale presented a “State Integrity Six Pack” that would take SA out of its downward trajectory. Fighting corruption and state capture is the foundation, and business should drive this change.