Companies / 24 October 2016, 08:59am / Nicola Mawson, IOL Business Editor
Johannesburg - Several prominent business leader have signed a CEO Initiative Pledge that is against corruption and what they call “politically motivated prosecutions”.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the business leaders – in a list of a veritable who’s who of South African leaders – commit to do the right thing, and reject what they see as wrong.
The list of what they see as right, and for which they stand, includes the Constitution, good governance, a vibrant democracy as well as “fast and inclusive economic growth”.
The leaders add they stand against “injustice, including failures to investigate and prosecute prima facie wrongdoing and any selective, malicious or politically motivated prosecutions that cannot satisfy the public interest test”.
They also stand against “corruption, graft and waste in both private and public sectors, threats of violence and violent protest, the damage to growth, job creation and transformation caused by policy uncertainty and by self-seeking behaviour in both the private and public sectors [and] persistent unfairness and inequity in the economy”.
In the statement, the leaders says, since the National Prosecuting Authority announced its charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in the public arena, they consider it their right and duty to respond in public.
On November 2, Gordhan is due to appear before court on charges of fraud over allegations that he illegally authorised an early retirement and established an illicit investigative unit when he headed the South African Revenue Service. This has been viewed as a continuation of the tussle between President Jacob Zuma and Gordhan over control of SA’s finances, which is coming to a head.
On Wednesday, he will also present what many view as his most important mini budget ever.
The leaders, joining a growing list of those standing against Gordhan being prosecuted at a time when the economy is in a fragile state, add “we stand as one for the rule of law and against the decision to prosecute the Minister of Finance on charges that are, according to the preponderance of expert legal opinion, without factual or legal foundation and not in the public interest”.
They add: “We stand against the damage this has caused to our economy and to the people of South Africa, especially the poor.”
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has described Gordhan’s recent spat with the National Prosecuting Authority as worrisome to most sectors of the economy. He said he had no doubt that Gordhan remained committed to building a better country for all South Africans.
After the announcement that Gordhan was being charged, former chief executives of Standard Bank and retailer Massmart, lauded Gordhan as an “outstanding” political leader. “We have no doubt about the need for his critical leadership at this time of vital economic importance,” they said. “South Africa’s democratic transformation cannot afford to have a man of Gordhan’s abilities distracted or sidelined.”
The business executives said ratings agencies wanted to see a better economic growth outlook and reforms to sustain faster economic growth over time and improvements in the management of state-owned enterprises.