Thought Leadership

BLSA CEO Letter – 08 August 2022

08/08/2022 | By Busiswe Mavuso

I’ve written before that one of BLSA’s strategic priorities is to support the recovery of the criminal justice system. I’m pleased that we took a step forward in that effort last week by signing a memorandum of understanding with the National Prosecuting Authority to allow us to support the NPA with the technical skills it needs to mount effective prosecutions. I applaud the NPA’s willingness to take bold and innovative measures to ensure it has the resources it needs to deliver convictions.

The NPA is ramping up its efforts to respond to the Zondo Commission and will need specialised skills to support complex corruption cases, such as forensic accountants and data analysts. While the NPA has benefited from increases in funding to support its efforts, it will take time to recruit and train for the specialist skills it needs.

Meanwhile, the private sector has good capacity in complex investigations and the legal minds to draw together evidence to support successful prosecutions. These are scarce skills which the private sector can mobilise quickly, while the NPA continues to build its own capacity for the long term. The NPA must be able to deal with cases involving complex international crime, often with complex digital evidence requiring sophisticated tools to analyse and ultimately present to court.

Of course, it is critical that the NPA functions independently and free of undue influence. The MOU protects that by ensuring any requests for assistance come from the NPA. BLSA has undertaken to identify expertise to support the NPA in response to specific requests, but any service providers will report to the NPA and be subject to all of the appropriate legal requirements in doing so.

At the same time we are also conscious of the need to transfer skills to NPA staff. The MOU allows us to mobilise the best people in the private sector to work for the NPA to investigate and build cases for successful prosecutions.

The MOU has taken time to finalise precisely because of the importance of ensuring it meets the NPA’s high standards of independence and integrity.

BLSA’s motive is clear: we support the rule of law. We have long done so through our Business Against Crime subsidiary and will now expand these efforts to support the NPA. The rule of law is essential for economies to work. State capture systematically undermined the institutions of our criminal justice system and all stakeholders today need to be part of the effort of repairing it. Business is committed to doing its part – ultimately we want a criminal justice system that is capable and effective in bringing to justice those who violate our laws. That builds trust, enabling the economy. We need contracts to be enforced, crime to be punished and property protected.

We are also conscious of the challenges facing our engagement with the international financial system and the risk of being greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force, in part because of our inability to systematically prosecute those involved in commercial crime and money laundering. We hope our support for the NPA will contribute to the national effort to fix our capacity and avoid a damaging downgrade of South Africa’s status as being compliant with international anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules.

I am excited that we have reached this juncture and look forward to working with the NPA as well as all our members to swiftly support the authority in response to its requests. I believe this will provide an important set of resources to ultimately ensure justice is done, restoring the confidence of businesses and consumers that South Africa is a safe and reliable place to live and work.

 

SA’s democracy started off brightly, with hope of a better economic future. But then corruption, fuelled by cadre deployment, began to expand as government officials focused on self-enrichment. Today, the economic destruction from years of misgovernance, among other factors, is so overwhelming that the ruling party’s electoral prospects are being threatened and it is now being tempted by the trap of populist mechanisms. But, as I write in fin24, government has brought us to the point where there are no easy solutions.

Organised business has been accused of being indifferent to the plight of the poor in the wake of our report on the implications of the basic income grant but our actions prove otherwise, I write in Business Day. Business directs significant resources towards alleviating poverty through corporate social investment projects, taxes and black economic transformation initiatives. Business is calling for policies that will address the immediate plight of the poor sustainably without increasing SA’s debt burden.

 

This is a weekly newsletter from BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso.

BLSA is a business organisation that believes in South Africa’s future and shares the values set out in the Constitution. In 2017, BLSA signed a contract with South Africa, committing business to playing its part in creating a South Africa of increasing prosperity for all by harnessing the resources and capabilities of business in partnership with government and civil society to deliver economic growth, transformation and inclusion.