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Moody’s rumoured visit to SA not a good sign - Gordhan

Nov 10 2017 07:11
Carin Smith

Stellenbosch – It is not a good sign that ratings agency Moody’s was rumoured to be in South Africa recently, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan warned on Thursday.

“Fiscally, South Africa is moving in the wrong direction. We need to stop that slide and start moving in a different direction in more way than one way,” he said at a conference of the Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa) in partnership with Deloitte.

At the event Gordhan received the Baobab Award for being “a true ethical leader, striving to do the right thing even when others choose a less ethical path”

“Greed is a key driving force of behaviour in the current economic system. This disease of greed must be addressed as it corrupts society.”
To him the information disclosed in, for instance, the Panama Papers and the recent leak of the so-called Paradise Papers, disclose the kind of greed factor he referred to.

“It is remarkable how big institutions, proclaiming their values and standards, are then seen as the ones whose behaviour and activities do the opposite in terms of undermining the integrity we want to see,” said Gordhan.

“An economic model that reinforces inequality and promotes greed rather than empathy inspires wrong behaviours. It must combine with profound social justice at the heart of business practices otherwise it will constantly cause tension.”

He said the problem is a toxic mix between some in government, some in the business sector and some in professional firms.

At the same time, in his view, it is still possible to see changes in SA sometime next year, but it will take time.

“The current finger pointing exercise is actually a useful way to distract people from the total picture. It is only when you connect the pieces constantly that you see the bigger picture in order to get systemic answers,” said Gordhan.

“If we keep operating at a tactical level we might target the wrong things. Rather combine the systemic and tactical approach to make a difference, especially when you want to be an organising force in society.”

He emphasised that it will take a lot of hard work to rebuild confidence in the SA economy.

“There always comes a time when ordinary people become ‘gatvol’, saying ‘this far and no further’. Activism must, however, be informed by a balanced and wide political understanding,” said Gordhan. “Issue based activism is very important, but through that process you need to understand the system.”

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