It is so invigorating to read that the National Development Plan (NDP) is “seeking to grow the economy threefold in the next 17 years”, as reported in your story “NDP opens path to engage government”. (Business Report, March 7).
Planning commissioner Bobby Godsell’s invitation to “identify constraints” is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for business. His focus on market saturation, lack of skills and rigid labour legislation is helpful, but unless and until the scourge of corruption of a deep-seated and systemic nature is properly addressed, all the commissioner will be doing is re-arranging the deck chairs on our Titanic ship of state.
The cancer of corruption eats away at growth, it steals from the poor, it enriches the unworthy temporarily and it will, if left unchecked, wreck the NDP and with it all hope of peace, progress and prosperity.
Noises emanating from Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe and Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu about tackling corruption are encouraging, even if they were orchestrated to counter anticipated adverse publicity from the arms procurement commission hearings that were postponed unexpectedly.
The NDP has not taken on board the decision of the Constitutional Court, which has the final say in such matters, on what is actually needed to fight corruption.
This is the NDP’s biggest, and potentially fatal, blind spot. In its seminal Glenister judgment, the court has laid down that specialisation, training, independence, proper resourcing and security of tenure are the hallmarks of an effective anti-corruption entity. South Africa has no such thing. The Hawks are a pale shadow of the Scorpions, and the Scorpions were vulnerable to closure because they lacked security of tenure.
Business needs to get a-stirring in response to Godsell’s kind invitation to treat.
The necessary ammunition is available for free on www.ifaisa.org’s “Glenister case” website page. The country needs an anti-corruption commission, the Eagles, without which the NDP is doomed.
Already it is estimated that more than R675 billion has been lost to corruption in the new South Africa. Official guesstimates are that about R30bn a year is skimmed off in corrupt tendering alone.
Business needs to be heard on this topic and now has the kind invitation from Godsell. If every business person reading this e-mails the National Planning Commission (NPC) a message that Eagles fly higher, see further and go after bigger prey than Hawks, maybe, just maybe, the NDP mandarins will rethink their position on corruption and inspan the political will to get the Eagles up and going.
The NPC’s Facebook page had just 2 266 “likes” as of March 7. It deserves more.
Paul Hoffman SC
Director: Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa
Trade unions can’t be trusted with pensions
On March 4, Business Report published an article “Pay social benefits through unions”, written by Wiseman Khuzwayo. In it he mentions UCT professor Rochelle le Roux who thinks “that employers should not be burdened with the social security payments of their employees”.
It’s a most excellent idea that should have been adopted when social security such as pensions and medical aid became accepted by European countries almost a hundred years ago.
A business can only function when it makes a profit. To employ staff to look after the social insurances of their workers is not the business of a business.
A system of employment where the taxpaying employer is to do the employee’s welfare job cannot work efficiently; the business loses money and will disappear.
Salaries should be based on the work performed plus a percentage for the employee to invest for his future.
Unfortunately politicians made a mess of the whole system because they thought the state would be sufficiently clever to handle such vast amounts of money. Today there’s sufficient proof worldwide to see that not one country has been able to be the caretaker of such a social enterprise.
What these countries now have are vast Ponzi schemes because the monies paid by and for the elderly employees have been looted, wasted or stolen instead of being invested with compound interest.
Khuzwayo suggests that in order not to burden the government with the collection of these premiums for future welfare it should be performed by the trade unions.
Such an idea shows an absolute ignorance of the people that swarm together to make a profit on workers in the form of a trade union. Originally trade unions performed a defensive action to protect employees against greedy employers but that function has been overtaken worldwide by a more lucrative one: trade unions function for the benefit of trade unions and those that run them.
Why would the Mafia in the US have its claws in most unions? Often they are more parasitic than employers could ever be.
This suggestion, offering them such a colossal amount of money, has them already licking their lips and rubbing their hands inside their wabenzi wagons.
Professional money people should be used to look after the social welfare of employees. Insurance companies and trust funds should be asked to tender with their fees and conditions to take in the payments the employees are ready to spend on medical or future necessities.