Busi­ness hits back at ANC’s black­list­ing idea

CityPress - - Business - XOLANI MBANJWA busi­ness@city­press.co.za

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

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