The CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), Busisiwe Mavuso, has taken a firm stance on the complicity and accountability of businesses in state looting as well as the importance of transparent political party finances.
Mavuso was speaking at a joint event by Right2Know (R2K) and My Vote Counts (MVC), where a number of concerned parties discussed political party funding on Wednesday.
“If alongside the politicians as business we [business] are complicit, then when these politicians are put in orange overalls and are hauled to jail then my CEOs should actually be right behind the politicians,” Mavuso said.
“I think we need to acknowledge that the rampant scale of looting that happened in this country, the industrial-scale looting [and] hollowing out of the SOEs, the almost economic collapse that we find ourselves in as a country would not have been possible if we as business were not complicit,” she added.
The event saw a panel discussion which included the likes of Zahira Grimwood, a researcher at the MVC, political analyst Ralph Mathekga, R2K national co-ordinator Ghalib Galant and Mavuso.
Mavuso said she was confused as to why businesses were seen as an “untouchable” force and were not held accountable for state looting.
“I don’t know why, for whatever reason, we have not been asked these tough questions. I don’t know why we have been deemed as a constituency that is untouchable because we are not.”
She added that business cannot “sit on the fence” and should be clear on its morals and ethics, saying this was why she had decided to support the initiative of transparent party funding.
“The proof of the pudding is going to be … are we going to unequivocally come out and support such initiatives because you must know that when we support such initiatives it means that some of our own CEOs are going to be implicated.
“Precisely because some of our own are going to be implicated, that is why we have to come out in strong support because the law cannot change depending on who is being found guilty.”
“It is vital that business should stay vigilant and I don’t know of any better way of staying vigilant than coming up with [an] initiative to say, ‘Can we have transparency when it comes to political party funding?’
“If we are serious about the issue of ethics and morals, and doing business in the right way then of course, as business we have to advocate that the flow of money in this country is going to have to be transparent,” Mavuso said.