Johannesburg - The Helen Suzman Foundation says new regulations must be applied to the legal, accounting, management and consulting sectors in order to avoid capturing of the state in future.
The foundation said these four sectors played a prominent role in the capturing of the state and sadly some of the role players have not been properly punished for their dirty role.
In four papers dealing with state capture released late last week, the foundation’s legal researcher, Cherese Thakur, said the blemishes left by the conduct of lawyers in the context of state capture will be difficult to remove, and will likely endure in the public consciousness for some time.
She advised that the law profession should uphold the Constitution at all times as per their oath of office.
“It is imperative that firms have a whistle-blowing policy in place. The Protected Disclosures Act creates an obligation on employers to create internal procedures for receiving and dealing with disclosures and to take reasonable steps to make these known to their employees. These procedures give a voice to professionals within firms to raise concerns about impropriety - even if committed by others within the firm - while still enjoying protection under the law,” she said.
Taking on the accounting sector, Thakur said the sector aided state capture by turning a blind eye to corruption and sometimes aided it. She proposed that regulators must not wait for a crime to be committed in order to act. Instead, it must be proactive.
“One explanation for this may be that regulators are constrained by the mandate set out in legislation or constitutive documents.
"This may require that a complaint be lodged before an investigation can be initiated."
She said professionals themselves have two very obvious duties when they discover malfeasance. The first is not to participate in it. The second is to report it.
Thakur said management should also be looked at because of the prominent role it has in the formulation of government policy.
The influence of management consultants has had profound effects on South Africa in the past few years. That influence extends to state capture.
“Compared to the other professions in this brief, management consulting is relatively young. In its fairly short existence, it has yet to subject itself to any kind of general regulation - which some would argue means it cannot rightfully be classed as a 'profession' in the first place. In any event, the lack of a supervisory body enforcing a code of ethics has enabled gross abuses of power.
"Even while their role is advisory, the influence they exert over the development of policy is very real.”