A clear mes­sage to the pow­er­ful

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

FUR­THER heart­en­ing ev­i­dence of demo­cratic South Africa’s re­solve to live up to its found- ing prin­ci­ples of clean, open and ac­count- able gov­ern­ment is mak­ing fresh head­lines with the dra­matic de­vel­op­ments in the be­lea­guered Gupta-linked au­dit­ing firm, KPMG. The in­ter­na­tional firm, which ac­knowl­edged work­ing with Gupta- re­lated en­ti­ties from 2002, buck­led un­der pres­sure – largely the re­sult of the far- reach­ing work of jour­nal­ists analysing the bomb­shell “Gupta leaks” emails – and acted to undo the dam­age, is­su­ing what amounts to a multi- mil­lion rand-mea culpa and shed­ding ex­ec­u­tives. In what has been de­scribed as a “spec­tac­u­lar con­ces­sion”, KPMG said the find­ings, con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions of its deeply con­tro­ver­sial Sars re­port (over a sup­posed “rogue unit”) should be with­drawn be­cause it cre­ated the in­cor­rect im- pres­sion that for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord- han knew about the so-called “rogue unit”. The re­port was a fea­ture of Gord­han’s hound­ing from the cab­i­net and a crit­i­cal port­fo­lio the hand- ling of which had earned him much credit and the con­fi­dence of in­vestors and or­di­nary South Afri- cans alike. KPMG went fur­ther, an­nounc­ing that it would chan­nel the R23 mil­lion it had re­ceived from Sars to com­pile the re­port to char­ity and that it would do­nate R40m it re­ceived from the Gup­tas over the years to or­gan­i­sa­tions fight­ing cor­rup­tion in the coun­try. This fol­lows the fall of dis­graced PR com­pany Bell Pot­tinger over its egre­gious “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” cam­paign – also paid for by the Gup­tas. These de­vel­op­ments are sig­nal mo­ments for a coun­try des­per­ate to claw its way back to the prom- ise of its demo­cratic in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1994, of good gov­er­nance of the peo­ple, for the peo­ple. They send a pow­er­ful mes­sage to all in power – whether in board­room, cab­i­net or cau­cus – that the col­lec­tive will of good South Africans, rally- ing to the stan­dards of cor­rup­tion- busters and ac­tivists for a truly bet­ter life is a force to be reck- oned with.

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