Andile Nomlala | State capture not a consequence of BEE in business

Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday
Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday
Image: ALON SKUY

While it is true that BEE is not exempt from corruption, state capture, however, is not a consequence of BEE.

BEE policy is relevant and necessary in addressing socioeconomic injustices of the past.

What has been lacking, and should be strengthened, is the implementation and monitoring of the policy.

Thus, when it comes to state capture, the breakdown in ethical leadership and governance in the public and private sectors is the primary contributing factor to the state capture project and prevalence of corruption in SA.

Both private and public sectors, black and white professionals, need to be held to account.

We need to reject misleading narratives concerned with primarily using black professionals as scapegoats in state capture.

I recently slammed ANC NEC member Senzo Mchunu for blaming black managers for all the trouble at SOEs, particularly Eskom.

Eskom’s underperformance, as with that of other major SOEs, is due to a gross failure in corporate governance and ethical leadership.

The whole political body in SA, including the ministers who today are fervent ambassadors of the “new dawn”, including President Cyril Ramaphosa himself, act as if they were not part of the cabinet decision that agreed on appointing abominable board members that brought SOEs to their knees.

The very same “new dawn” champions “forget” that they too defended Jacob Zuma on eight occasions of a vote of no confidence in parliament.

The Black Management Forum, therefore, will not defend individuals and organisations, black or white, that have aided state capture.

It will continue to call for those professionals who succumbed to the pressure of politicians and compromised their ethical standing to be brought to book.

The political leadership must self-introspect and interrogate the role it has played in the failure of SOEs instead of perpetuating the narrative that black professionals are incompetent looters who cannot be trusted with positions of responsibility.

The lack of accountability of the involvement of white professionals and companies in state capture is dismal.

One hardly sees anyone fervently trying to call them to order or calling them incompetent thieves.

In August 2017, entrepreneur Magda Wierzycka, of Sygnia, cut a lonely figure when she took a firm stand against corporate corruption by firing KPMG as her firm’s auditors after its involvement in Gupta state capture were revealed.

No other business leaders followed suit and this is despite the national outcry that prevailed against state capture at the time.

While South Africans react with outrage over the vast and growing body of evidence that white-dominated multinationals such as KPMG, SAP, Bain & Co, ABB, China South Rail and McKinsey, have been complicit in the Gupta state capture campaign, the leaders of these companies remain not bothered, and these companies continue to do business with the state and private sector.

Companies such as SAP, that confessed to US authorities about its involvement in Transnet tender fraud, are still well entrenched in the government and private sector doing business as normal.

Even though these international companies have confessed their involvement in the state capture, they have not been charged nor have they testified in the state capture inquiry.

The BMF has not failed to call out black professionals on their involvement in state capture.

On May 12 2017, the BMF condemned the decision taken by the Eskom board of directors to reappoint Brian Molefe as the CEO of its entity.

Despite the Black Management Forum’s public denouncement of state capture, there is a narrative that ignorantly and imprecisely links it to state capture.

The forum, however, cannot be implicated in state capture because its past leaders in their individual capacity and business activities are linked to state capture.

We call upon anyone who has evidence that our organisation was used as a conduit to propel state capture project to come forward with evidence.

The Black Management Forum will not let companies get away with being reluctant to put transformation imperatives at the fore of business practice.

Denel’s appointment of a white CEO was challenged because the organisation refuses to allow a persistent culture of appointing white males into executive positions to prevail when there are qualified and competent black professionals that continue to be sidelined.

The 18th Commission for Employment Equity report showed that 67.7% of top management positions were occupied by whites, 14.3% by Africans, 5.1% by coloureds and 3.4% by foreign nationals.

Men occupied 77.1% of top management positions and women 22.9%.

White people held 56.1% of senior management positions, black people 22.1%, Indian people 10.9% and coloured people 7.7% in their professionally qualified category.

Semi-skilled labour positions were mostly held by black people at 76.8%.

At the unskilled level, 83.5% of positions were held by black people.

The report unsurprisingly showed that the pace of transformation was lacking especially in the upper levels of management where white people (especially males) still dominated.

The Black Management Forum will continue to unapologetically advocate for transformation imperatives.

Companies still need to realise that BEE is not just a piece of legislation that they are expected to comply with, but rather a transformational imperative that will in the long run make sense for their bottom line.

The advancement of a truly inclusive working environment would yield greater economic stimulation.

The inability of companies to see this speaks to their lack of interest in sustainable economic development in the country.

Andile Nomlala is president of the Black Management Forum

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