Karabo Ngoepe and Ayanda Mdluli
JOHANNESBURG- Corruption in the private sector is treated with kid gloves while in government it is a different story.
That is President Jacob Zuma’s view as he wraps up his term as the leader of the African National Congress. In his last political report, Zuma said market inquiries were currently taking place into the private healthcare industry and corporate practices in the grocery sector, including in shopping malls and townships, in the public transport sector and in the data-services sector. He lambasted how the wrongdoings in the private sector are given nice names.
This year, there has been a spate of corporate scandals in the private sector where white owned companies and CEOs have been caught with engaging various incidents relating to accounting and tax fraud.
In one of them, Markus Jooste, the CEO of Steinhoff International N.V was forced to resign under a cloud of fraud and corruption allegation relating to irregular transactions worth R15 billion.
In this scandal, the Public Investment Corporation lost close to R12 billion rands worth of pensioners monies as the share price if the company plunged to record lows in the financial markets.
“As these are uncovered, serious concerns have been raised that corruption in the private sector is treated with kid gloves, and is referred to in softer terms such as “collusion”, “accounting irregularities” or “lapses in corporate governance”.
Theft and corruption in the private sector is as bad as that in government and must be dealt with decisively by law enforcement agencies,” he said.
“Corporate collusion is now a criminal offence, punishable with 10 years in prison, in terms of a new provision signed last year.”
He said measures have been put in place to curb the practice in government and progress has been made.
Zuma said legislation and institutions have been put in place by the ANC government to eradicate corruption in the public sector.
He added that since 2009, he has signed 84 proclamations authorising the Special Investigating Unit to investigate maladministration and corruption in government and state institutions.
He also spoke out about the need to tackle state capture by businesses to advance their own needs. He said that would be investigated through a judicial commission of inquiry. Zuma has been at the centre of controversy regarding alleged influence by the Gupta family in his administration.
“The allegations made against some sections of the business community regarding the said capture of the state to advance business interests will be probed further in a judicial commission of inquiry that we committed to establishing as the ANC some time ago, in order to uncover the truth,” he said.
Zuma called on members to do everything in its power to protect the party from undue influences from business. He said they needed to ensure that the decisions they take are informed by the policies of the ANC and not dictated to by business interests.
He said there was already talk that the party would implode if certain individuals are elected to lead the organisation. The elective conference has been split down the middle between Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Ramaphosa’s faction in the ANC is seen as pushing an agenda to further entrench the tentacles of White Monopoly Capital while supporters of Dlamini Zuma are looking to swiftly implement Radical Economic Transformation.
The latter has been a key discussion in the ANC’s plenary sessions and has ruffled the feathers of the privileged few and big business who are looking at maintaining the status quo.
“Already we have received threats that the ANC will implode, and the economy will collapse if certain outcomes arise from this conference, be it conference resolutions on the economy or the leadership elected if these are not those favoured by business. The ANC has one hundred and five years of experience in managing contestation, which is an internal democratic process. We must build a resilient ANC that can withstand such undue pressure and enable the ANC to conduct its organisational work freely,” he said.