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Thread: Corruption to plunge SA in jeopardy

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    Corruption to plunge SA in jeopardy

    Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary’s address to the Business Unity South Africa Anti-Corruption Business Forum, 30 October 2009

    Thank you for inviting me to address this meeting on such a crucial topic – the struggle against corruption. It is such a serious problem that if we fail to resolve it, the future of our country will be in jeopardy.

    COSATU has been raising its concerns for many years and will continue to do so until we can finally put an end to the cancer of corruption and the culture of crass materialism, which threaten the foundations of our democracy.

    Three days ago, our new Finance Minister, in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, expressed his concern at “the number of government tenders, in all three spheres of government that are tainted by corruption. Corrupt officials stand on one side, while on the other stand corrupt business people.”

    He was echoing the remarks of the ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, who recently wrote in ANC Today, “The biggest threat to our movement is the intersection between the business interests and holding of public office. It is frightening to observe the speed with which the election to a position is seen to be the creation of an opportunity for wealth accumulation.”

    You will note that both the minister and Secretary-General emphasise that there are two sides to corruption. For every person who receives a bribe there is another who gives the bribe. For every corrupt councillor or public official there is a corrupt businessman or woman.

    It would be a fatal mistake for the business community to see this as just a problem for the public sector. The private sector is deeply implicated as well, with millions of rands being lost in white-collar crime within businesses. Corruption is a massive problem that society as a whole has to unite to overcome.

    The 1994 historic breakthrough has opened a completely new chapter for everyone. But as Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said: “A country is just like a house, it has windows and gates. If you close the window, you get no fresh air, and also no flies. But if you open the window fresh air comes in and also some flies.”

    This is exactly what is happening in our country. A disturbing culture has blown in through the window and taken root in our society and our movement, which threatens to erode the moral and ethics of our revolution and is silently threatening our national democratic movement.

    It is a culture which - I have to be frank - has been imported into our movement from the business sector. While of course the majority of business men and women - and we can say the same about our political leadership - obey the law and do not get involved in corruption there is a capitalist culture which praises and rewards those who accumulate the most wealth and despises those who ‘fail’.

    Business has always been run on the basis of the survival of the fittest, where the principle of ‘dog-eats-dog’, ‘me-first’ applies. Whilst workers universal slogan is “an injury to one is the injury to all” the capitalist mentality daily practises the opposite “an injury to one is an opportunity to the other”.

    This culture has lead to the obscene levels of salaries, bonuses and perks for top executives, which has led to South Africa becoming the most unequal society on earth.

    A 2007 survey showed that on average, South African managers were earning more than those in the UK, France, New Zealand and Canada. South Africa’s senior managers earned an average disposable income of R700, 000 a year, while Britain’s managers earned around R600, 000. If you take account of the lower cost of living in South Africa, the difference in real terms is even greater.

    And they are just the average! In the last financial year Brett and Mark Levy, of Blue Label Telecoms, were South Africa’s top-earning executives, taking home R50.4 million and R49.5 million respectively.

    In the financial sector, First Rand’s chief executive, Paul Harris, made R27.8-million, Sanlam chief executive Johan van Zyl R27.1-million, former Absa chief executive Steve Booysen R18.2-million and Standard Bank chief executive Jaco Maree R14.1-million.

    Many will argue that these individuals deserve these obscene salaries and perks, which they earned through hard work, and that they create wealth for their shareholders who took a risk by investing their money.

    As we know, however, in South Africa bonuses are paid to the upper echelons of management irrespective of the performance of the companies they are managing.

    Workers on the other hand earn far less than workers in the UK, France, New Zealand and Canada. These same companies that pay out these first-world salaries to their CEOs expect their employees to accept third-world wages and lecture the trade unions about their excessive wage claims.

    They casualise their workforces and use the services of labour brokers to dodge their moral and legal obligations to give their workers the benefits, job security and minimum wages they are entitled to and still complain about unions being an obstacle that stops them making even bigger profits.

    It is as a direct result of this attitude to remuneration that wages have consistently declined as a proportion of GDP, from over 50% in 1998 to under 40% in 2005, while profits steadily rose in the same period.

    Ladies and gentlemen

    “Fighting corruption,” said the COSATU Congress report “is not only a moral imperative but a major issue of social justice in this country”.

    As Gwede Mantashe said in his article, “If we do not deal decisively with this tendency the ANC will only move one way, that is, downward. Fighting corruption must be our preoccupation”.

    He quite rightly links corruption to the wave of service delivery-related protests we have experienced recently. While many councillors and mayors continue to do wonderful work in support of the goals of revolution, often under difficult conditions, the recent community protests are stoked by legitimate grievances about the terrible levels of poverty and poor service in our poor communities.

    But they are just as much a revolt against people they elected to serve them as councillors and mayors, who become corrupt, move out of the community, live a life of affluence at the people’s expense and do nothing to help those they have left behind.



    Resources intended for the public good are being diverted to individuals’ pockets so that the poor are deprived of desperately much needed basic services. It is also theft of our taxes that we work so hard to pay in order to improve public services.

    A particular problem is one we call ‘throwing the javelin’, where politicians, public servants and unionists feather their nests while still in public service, by creating future business opportunities.

    They then leave the service to work in the same sector in a private company and profit from the opportunities they themselves had created as public servants. COSATU is demanding at the very least a five-year cooling off period after public servants leave public office before they can take any such position in the private sector.

    We continue to insist that those who want to be public representatives must choose between being public representatives, who live within the salaries provided for these positions, or being businesspersons. No one should be allowed to choose both. Those who choose both must be asked to resign. Clearly a simple declaration of interest is not good enough.

    Our country is in danger! As more and more join this race to self-enrichment, the more the needs of workers and the poor take a back seat. Individualism takes root. Soon we will be en-route to Zimbabwe and other failed revolutions elsewhere in the world.

    This is not what OR Tambo sacrificed thirty years of his life in exile for. This is not what Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his life in prison for. This is an insult to all of our heroes and heroines. We must stop this cancer before it is too late. We must raise our fingers now before we reach a time when no one will be able to raise a finger without it being chopped off.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBBEE_CompSpec View Post
    We continue to insist that those who want to be public representatives must choose between being public representatives, who live within the salaries provided for these positions, or being businesspersons. No one should be allowed to choose both. Those who choose both must be asked to resign. Clearly a simple declaration of interest is not good enough.
    There's merit in this, I think. Investment in listed shares, unit trusts, that sort of thing should be OK. I don't think the right to invest savings should be removed - just steered into areas less likely to "tempt" corrupt practices.
    Quote Originally Posted by BBBEE_CompSpec View Post
    You will note that both the minister and Secretary-General emphasise that there are two sides to corruption. For every person who receives a bribe there is another who gives the bribe. For every corrupt councillor or public official there is a corrupt businessman or woman.

    It would be a fatal mistake for the business community to see this as just a problem for the public sector. The private sector is deeply implicated as well,
    I've got mixed feelings on this one. He/they are right, it takes two to tango. The question is who is leading the dance? (especially now that it seems corruption has become endemic). And who has a duty to the people?

    Government is passing the buck and it's simply not on. They have the power and the duty to stop corruption in its tracks. Business doesn't and certainly individuals trying to get their ID document, get their drivers licence, or even drive from one side of town to another without being coerced into paying a "spot fine" are damn near powerless.

    Especially if their attempts to bring these corrupt activities to the attention of government falls on deaf ears, or even results in active condemnation.

    I have little doubt this started with business and individuals dangling the bait. But it became entrenched when government started sweeping blatant corruption under the carpet instead of treating it as they should, with a ruthless lack of mercy. Examples needed to be made. Unfortunately the examples we've seen here have been all the wrong ones.

    Travelgate, the arms deal, do I really need to continue?

    Calling on business to reign in corruption in their midst is futile, even ridiculous whilst government is actively condoning it among their own.
    Last edited by Dave A; 03-Nov-09 at 10:24 PM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Butch Hannan's Avatar
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    Angry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    There's merit in this, I think. Investment in listed shares, unit trusts, that sort of thing should be OK. I don't think the right to invest savings should be removed - just steered into areas less likely to "tempt" corrupt practices.

    I've got mixed feelings on this one. He/they are right, it takes two to tango. The question is who is leading the dance? (especially now that it seems corruption has become endemic). And who has a duty to the people?

    Government is passing the buck and it's simply not on. They have the power and the duty to stop corruption in its tracks. Business doesn't and certainly individuals trying to get their ID document, get their drivers licence, or even drive from one side of town to another without being coerced into paying a "spot fine" are damn near powerless.

    Especially if their attempts to bring these corrupt activities to the attention of government falls on deaf ears, or even results in active condemnation.

    I have little doubt this started with business and individuals dangling the bait. But it became entrenched when government started sweeping blatant corruption under the carpet instead of treating it as they should, with a ruthless lack of mercy. Examples needed to be made. Unfortunately the examples we've seen here have been all the wrong ones.

    Travelgate, the arms deal, do I really need to continue?

    Calling on business to reign in corruption in their midst is futile, even ridiculous whilst government is actively condoning it among their own.
    Hi,
    This whole story has some very serious implications for us. I have a dislike for politicians as they are past masters at diverting attention away from the real problem. Government almost always try and abrogate their responsibilities by throwing out some red herrings. They need to be ruthless about cleaning out their own house. I do not want to see transgressors suspended, normally on full pay, while the powers that be, seem to deliberate forever about their fate. I say catch them, try them, sentence them to jail terms without option. All their assets to be seized by the state and given to charity. Our communist friends from the Trade Unions and SACP do a wonderful about turn as they come to power and embrace the corrupt greedy capitalistic ethos.
    I have launched a website where I raise a lot of these issues and write poetry about it.
    Butch Hannan

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butch Hannan View Post
    Hi,
    This whole story has some very serious implications for us. I have a dislike for politicians as they are past masters at diverting attention away from the real problem. Government almost always try and abrogate their responsibilities by throwing out some red herrings. They need to be ruthless about cleaning out their own house. I do not want to see transgressors suspended, normally on full pay, while the powers that be, seem to deliberate forever about their fate. I say catch them, try them, sentence them to jail terms without option. All their assets to be seized by the state and given to charity. Our communist friends from the Trade Unions and SACP do a wonderful about turn as they come to power and embrace the corrupt greedy capitalistic ethos.
    I have launched a website where I raise a lot of these issues and write poetry about it.
    Butch Hannan
    We all know corruption is rife. We also know it will continue until challenged. We also know government wont challenge it and have seen how they remove any person or body that starts digging - re the anti corruption unit, scorpions etc. Perhaps it is time for people and employers to handle the amtter themselves. Our law, like many other countries laws, allows for private prosecution. That is that the people or a body can take up the cudgels as the prosecutor and prosecute, a person, body or the STATE in any matter or court. Most court challenges are constitution or civil based not criminal - hmmm. Biggest problem? Who first?
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Bronze Member Butch Hannan's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I honestly believe that as Government has the power they really need to take the lead in this whole sorry state of affairs. If Government cleans out it's own house ruthlessly and they can be seen to be doing it I am convinced that it will filter down to the whole country. Life consists of a series of "actions and consequences". While actions are obviously important the consequences that are created will haunt each one of us and our nation for a very long time.
    Butch Hannan

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    Its quite difficult to get anywhere with Government especially when the State President could'nt even matriculate.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBBEE_CompSpec View Post
    ...the State President could'nt even matriculate.
    Given the circumstances under which he was raised, that is probably a low blow.

    When it comes to corruption, I believe the main pertinent fact is the ANC elected as its leader a man facing corruption charges. That certainly is a clear signal, and a serious flaw in the prospects of an ANC lead government cleaning up its act. There are too many people who have got something on other people...

    Anthony is probably right. If the corruption cycle is ever going to be broken, it's likely going to take a movement outside of the current government.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Butch Hannan's Avatar
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    Angry

    Although it can be considered a low blow it does not alter the fact that our President is a very cunning and devious individual. A lot of our state tender practices are flawed which results in a lot of the graft that goes on. I attended a tender board meeting in one of the provinces. Having just lost a tender which was awarded to another individual at three times the price I was naturally very upset. At this meeting I raised this issue which caused a very antagonistic attitude. I was one of two white people amongst about fifty other people. I was verbally castigated by various individuals in the crowd and bluntly told that I should not ask questions like that at what was a site meeting for some new tenders.
    Apparently the parameters of the budgeted tender price are set by a "favoured" tenderer. Any tenders which differ by more than 5% from this price are not taken into consideration.
    This is an obvious recipe for committing fraud. The individual who got this order I suspect works out of a briefcase with a cell phone. We still supplied a lot of the equipment on this tender at our full list price to another merchant who then supplied Mr. Briefcase. The differences on this tender were R1.2m versus R3.3m.
    This is a big waste of our money which could be better spent.
    Butch Hannan

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    While living in Bloem, I was fortunate() enough to have known one of the lady premiers. I also, at about the same time, had dealings with our trade union, at disciplinary hearings.

    So, I have some knowledge of the way our country's leaders "think".

    In summary, and in short, as long as the perp says he/she/it is sorry, the slate is wiped clean, and they can just merrily go on doing what they have always done. But they must apologise, whether they are sincere or not.

    With a mindset such as this, percolating from the big chiefs to the indians, and then back again, what chance do law abiding citizens have? Even the morals of the judiciary are open to question...
    I'm one of the T's from TnT Unleashed Web design, photography and writing services
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