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Business Leaders are Part of the Rot – Onkgopotse JJ Tabane Dissects Corruption in South Africa

Let's Talk FranklyOnkgopotse JJ Tabane is an outspoken political commentator whose latest book, Let’s Talk Frankly: Letters to Influential South Africans About the State of Our Nation, expresses some home truths about the way in which the country is run.

In his recent column for Rand Daily Mail, Tabane takes on big business leaders for allowing corruption to flourish. “It is curious that business leaders have never been seriously critiqued for their role in this downward spiral,” Tabane writes in his introduction.

The author goes on to explain why business reticence and the complacency of business leaders are just as much to blame as the government for South Africa’s inability to sustain a robust economy.

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Business leaders often complain about the poor business environment. The changing of BEE laws has been blamed, with lots of resources now required to comply. But the real complaint of business is that their compliance complacency is threatened. It will now be required to do real empowerment as opposed to the fraud that has characterised broad-based BEE practices so far.

Business leaders are also complacent about corruption and don’t speak out when resources are wasted by municipalities and other state entities. This is because they are part of the rot. Consultants, for example, whose public sector bill is in the billions, rip off the public daily, causing the auditor-general to arrive at adverse findings against municipalities. Last year, a measly 10% of municipalities received clean audits, and up to R30bn was ascribed to wasteful expenditure. Few ever interrogate who receives this “wasteful expenditure”. Until we ask the hard questions and investigate possible collusion, we are going nowhere fast in ensuring that the corrupter and corruptee take responsibility. It’s time we spoke frankly about business having proxies in the government for all the wrong reasons, and what this means for the corruptible business leadership we have in this country.

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