Business hits back at ANC’s blacklisting idea
Instead of calling for the blacklisting of businesses to prevent corruption and the dangers of the “corporate capture” of political leaders, the ANC-led tripartite alliance must enact regulations to control political party funding, or stop accepting millions in funding from businesspeople.
This was the view shared by the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) and the Black Business Council after an alliance summit denounced the scourge of private businesses that fund internal election campaigns so that they can use politicians as “proxies” to do their bidding in government.
The spectre of vote-buying at ANC, labour federation Cosatu and SA Communist Party elective conferences – where political delegates use money from business to influence outcomes – was debated at the week-long tripartite alliance summit that ended on Wednesday this week with ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe describing “corporate capture” as a “dangerous” form of “corruption”.
The alliance has called for businesses found guilty of corruption and influencing politicians to be placed on the National Treasury’s registry of restricted suppliers – to make them ineligible for public tenders.
But Sacci acting chief executive Peggy Drodskie cautioned the alliance against the blacklisting of businesses and said the increasing levels of fraud and corruption within government was a major reason for the rise in “corporate capture”.
“Corporate capture is not unique to South Africa and takes various forms, with the funding of political parties playing a major role. Sacci supports the view that political funding should be addressed, rather than blacklisting. Indeed, there are guidelines for political party funding, but they are not well known.” Though Mantashe would not be drawn to give examples of the corporate capture of ANC leaders, some party members said the case of fraud, corruption and money laundering against Uruguayan businessmen Gaston Savoi and Northern Cape ANC chairperson John Block was one of the instances of “corporate capture” being referred to by the ANC.
Savoi, Block and four other government officials will go on trial in February next year after Block allegedly pressured health officials to buy water purifiers from Savoi’s company, Intaka. Savoi also featured centrally in another fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering case involving ANC leaders in KwaZulu-Natal, including former health MEC and now speaker in the provincial legislature Peggy Nkonyeni, as well as Mike Mabuyakhulu, the province’s economic development MEC.
The KwaZulu-Natal case – where it was alleged that Savoi’s contract was unlawfully awarded after he donated R1 million to ANC leaders – has since been withdrawn against Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu, with prosecutors citing “insufficient evidence”.
In a discussion document distributed at the summit, delegates complained that unscrupulous businesspeople were also using the media to discredit the political rivals of their proxies.
The document said: “Leadership in structures of the ANC affords opportunities to assume positions of authority in government, which makes elections in the ANC very competitive and dirty, sometimes.
“Driven by access to resources, prestige and authority, lobbying becomes [a matter] of life and death. Access to government positions gives individual comrades authority to issue tenders and contracts to private companies. These private companies, in return, fund the promotion of individual leaders by using the media to discredit the imaginary enemies and supply cash flow for lobbying.
“The threat is the election of proxy leaders who represent business interests.”
Sandile Zungu, vice-president of businesses at the Black Business Council, condemned companies that sought to exert undue political influence, but said blacklisting businesses “willy-nilly” would not have the desired effect.
In February, the Constitutional Court reserved judgment on the application by the My Vote Counts campaign to legally compel political parties to disclose their funders and the sums of money donated to them.
FIRM ANC secretarygeneral Gwede Mantashe