What happened to integrity?
Corruption in SA has devastating effect on poor people exploited by the unscrupulous
THE philosopher Confucius said, “… the strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home”, and modern management guru
Zig Ziegler asserts “… honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets to be nonnegotiable requirements in the pursuit of any lasting success”.
Yet, increasingly, this seems to escape many people, globally. The occurrences of losing integrity through lying or stealing or looting, seems to be at an all-time high.
Over the past decade we are witness to vexing shortfalls in integrity in South Africa, whether as spectacles of corporate greed or embedded networks co-opting government resources for personal gain – state capture.
In short, we are in an incessant battle against corruption.
Likewise, recent months have been emotionally taxing for an already shell-shocked nation. Comparable with a recurring nightmare, persisting crime and corruption have become a new reality that all law-abiding South Africans are experiencing at the hands of nefarious marauders.
The new “normal” relating to a “trust deficit” has become forcefully ingrained into the national psyche. Not a day goes by when we don’t wake to hear about the perilous state of being in which integrity is repeatedly desecrated and brutally kicked out the door.
As the governance of our leadership continues to decline the facts clearly show how billions of rand have been squandered for the benefit of a few corrupt individuals, whose names appear regularly in the news.
What has happened to our ethical values and moral compass that causes the truth of our feelings to be so deeply suppressed, knowing full well that our societal standards are being dehumanised daily?
The “heist” at VBS Mutual Bank, which is the equivalent of a glorified Ponzi scheme, is among the leading examples of corporate “looting” that South Africa has witnessed in recent months. Other examples include the alleged “mismanagement” at the African Bank, the alleged Gupta thefts in cahoots with
SAP, a German-based software company and Mckinsey, the alleged “impropriety” sagas of Steinhoff, the alleged wrongdoings at MTN and Multichoice and the perennial auditing violator KPMG.
Unlike other commercial banks, a mutual bank is much smaller and DHIRU SONI
does not offer a full bouquet of banking services.
The biggest difference between commercial banks and mutual banks is that depositors who save in the latter become shareholders with voting rights at annual general meetings.
Historically, these banks were started by philanthropists, who took on the positions of savings bank trustees, managers, and directors as opportunities to teach the working class the virtues of thrift and selfreliance by allowing them the security to save their money.
The VBS Bank plunder is the proverbial last straw that has totally shattered the trust that ordinary citizens have in the integrity of leadership in our country.
Corporate leadership has simply reached the pits in terms of immoral behaviour.
They shamelessly denigrated themselves by stealing from the poorest of the poor.
The cries of help from Mulalo Ramano, a frail 72-year-old widow from an impoverished black community, exemplifies the real tragedy of the VBS theft.
She was a member of a burial society that decided to invest in the Venda Building Society to take care of the funeral needs of her family. There were many others who were in a similar predicament, traumatised by the fact that they lost investments and were unable to bury their deceased with dignity.
To add salt to the wounds callously inflicted on poor people, some of these reprobates and their family members, posing as celebrities, were recently shown in press photographs living the “high life”.
They are heartless and devoid of basic integrity and an embarrassment to society. Despicable, to say the least.
One of the biggest reasons people violate their integrity is trying to achieve something they want in the face of what normal channels would not allow. In essence, it is disregard for established norms, morals, ethics, and laws in pursuit of personal aggrandisement.
Working to achieve success is fine. Breaking the rules is not. Workplace fulfilment does not have to come at the expense of others.
In the context of the lapse in integrity, can one picture the devastating effects of the closure of the VBS Bank on the poor rural community in Thohoyandou?
The prevalence of systemic corruption and low levels of trust and integrity continues to widen and deepen societal fissures, exacerbate inequality and impede the efficacy of both public and private sectors.
Growing evidence suggests that corruption both feeds on and is fed by the broader crisis of trust, which sustains a vicious cycle that undermines economic health and social cohesion.
This is why businesses must not turn away from corruption. Corporates that do not act will become complicit in human rights violations if they pursue business as usual. Failure to act will be interpreted as tacit approval.
As Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”