Address by Mr Andries Nel, MP, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, at the Anti-Corruption Business Forum, Sandton Convention Centre
30 Oct 2009
Chief Executive Officer of Business Unity South Africa, Mr Jerry Vilakazi
Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Business Unity South Africa, Professor Raymond Parsons
Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe
Secretary General of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Mr Zwelinzima Vavi
All business leaders present here
Government and civil society representatives
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
Let me from the outset express my gratitude for the privilege of not only being part of, but also speaking at this gathering of patriots who have answered the call to wage war on corruption, where ever it might be found and who ever might be involved in its perpetration.
I also wish to convey the greetings and support of the Minister for Public Service and Administration, Mr Richard Baloyi, and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Jeff Radebe.
In doing so I wish to emphasise that what I will be conveying here today represents the views of a collective that has since the dawn of our democracy recognised the corrosive effects of corruption and expressed its determination to fight both the effects as well as causes of corruption in order to ensure that they do not derail us from achieving the objective of creating a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
When we went to the polls a few months ago in our fourth democratic elections, the overwhelming majority of South Africans agreed that we need to work together to do more. We also agreed that the priorities that our concerted action must be focussed on are:
* fighting crime and corruption
* rural development and land reform and food security
* creating work
President Jacob Zuma outlined government’s programme to achieve these priorities in his State of the Nation Address on 2 June this year. It is clear that whilst the fight against corruption is located in the first of these objectives it impacts fundamentally on the attainment of all the priorities that we have set for ourselves as a nation.
If no action is taken against corruption, its adverse effects will be felt in different ways by people throughout society especially the poor who make up the majority of the population. Business gets compromised, democratic institutions and values are undermined, service delivery and sustainable developments are hampered which in turn leads to other problems. Corruption is therefore one of the most serious threats to the deepening of our democracy.
If left unchecked, this corruption will insidiously permeate the social fabric of society, entrenching itself as a normal aspect of our life. The French writer and philosopher, Albert Camus, remarked in a different context, that, “On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence through a curious transposition peculiar to our times it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself.” We must fight this “curious transposition” with all the means at our disposal.
To build a cohesive society South Africa needs a strong government that acts with and mobilises all sectors of society to ensure that no space is left for corrupt activities. The business sector, along with labour, religion, civil society amongst others, remains a vitally important player in this regard.
We have through initiatives such as the national Anti-Corruption Forum created an opportunity for all sectors to participate in efforts aimed at eradicating corruption.
The formation of the national Anti-Corruption Forum strengthened our multi-pronged national strategy to fight corruption in all sectors. We wish to applaud the dedication and enthusiasm with which the organised business sector has participated in the forum.
We also welcome all efforts by business to ensure that as a country we comply with international anti-corruption conventions such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in international business transactions.
In addition to these international instruments, compliance with national anti-corruption legislation remains critical. Our anti-corruption and ethical infrastructure serves as a basis for compliance with international instruments. The implementation and compliance with international instrument should be in harmony with and compliment national efforts.
As a country we have as early as 1997, put in place sound frameworks to fight corruption. We introduced and promoted key legislation such as the Protected Disclosures Act, Promotion of Access to Information Act, Financial Intelligence Centre Act, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
In addition to legislation, we also created various institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority, the Public Protector, the Special Investigating Unit, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Auditor-General. All these institutions support and complement the general policing work done by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Ladies and gentleman, in today’s world, the corrosive effects of corruption are experienced not only where corrupt activities are committed, but they also reverberate throughout the global economy and society. Corruption is a global challenge that affects both the developed and developing world, but it is in the developing world such as our own where its effects are most destructive.
Government remains committed to fight corruption in all its forms and manifestations. This includes corruption not only in the public sector but also in the private sector. Recent corporate scandals including price fixing indicate that legal instruments are not fully complied with. The current global meltdown is as a result of, amongst other things, non compliance with corporate governance measures in the business sector.
Generally the governance arrangements and systems of business are in place. But how do we account for a breakdown in ethics? If these scandals occur in spite of the governance arrangements it implies that we have a breakdown in ethics
As a result, a holistic approach in dealing with corruption is imperative. The role of government is to provide a stable environment that facilitates the growth and development of business in line with national and international standards and ethical norms and practices.
Over and above the introduction of legislation to outlaw corrupt practices, there is a need to adopt sector specific measures to ensure that the intended message is communicated and necessary systems are established for us, as a country, to be victorious in the fight against corruption.
It is, therefore, encouraging to observe that BUSA has taken the initiative to adopt a code of conduct for its members, in line with the undertaking made during the third National Anti-Corruption Summit hosted in August 2008.
At this Summit, we emerged with various resolutions which include calls for strengthened institutional capacity of the private sector to detect and prevent corruption; sectors to implement effective anti-corruption communications and awareness programmes at community level, within the business sector and across civil society; and lastly calls for the implementation of continental and international anti-corruption legal instruments and promote the enforcement thereof in national law.
Any real, long lasting ethical business practices should be accompanied by a value system. Critical to this is the reclaiming of a value system that sees the individual as part of a broader community and the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. Our ultimate aim must be to bring about behavioural change within the business sector thereby creating a corporate culture in which no form of corruption or bribery is tolerated. Cultural change is ultimately in the interests of business.
Ladies and gentleman, greed, economic opportunism and corruption are our biggest challenges. Rather than aspiring merely to be wealthy individuals, we should aspire to be citizens of a prosperous nation.
9 December is International Anti-Corruption Day as designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Around the globe, governments, civil society and business will be taking part in activities to demonstrate their commitment to prevent and combat corruption. By observing International Anti-Corruption Day, South Africa joins other nations of the world in re-affirming its commitment fighting corruption.
Let us all speak in one voice and stand united against corruption. The position of business with regard to corruption must be loud and clear we do not offer or accept bribes or facilitation payments.
South Africa belongs to all of us, its fate is in our own hands and we all have a role to play in fighting corruption in all its forms whether in government, business or civil society. Corruption destroys the future of our country and that of our children.
The fight against corruption is ongoing and as new manifestations of corruption are revealed so we have to come up with new tools to respond. Our fight against corruption will always remain work in progress and we always strive towards continual improvement.
In conclusion, ladies and gentleman, the time for complacency is over. Every day of inaction is a missed opportunity to create a more prosperous and transparent South Africa.
We trust that the outcomes of this forum will strengthen the work of the national Anti-Corruption Forum and we wish you well in your deliberations.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
30 October 2009
Source: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (http://www.doj.gov.za/)
Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
30 Oct 2009
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