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Pityana: We must reclaim our country from the crooks

Aug 03 2017 12:46
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The South African business sector should be warned as the Gupta links tighten their grip on the economy, Sipho Pityana, chair of AngloGold Ashanti and convenor of the Save South Africa campaign, said on Thursday.

He took part in a panel discussion on the responsibility of business as a voice in the media and in politics. It formed part of The Gathering, an event hosted by the Daily Maverick and Nando's at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

"Today it is journalists who are under threat, tomorrow it will be business," said Pityana.

"Just ask the ABSA staff who had to hide under their desks when the Black First Land First (BLF) thugs arrived. We must stand together to ensure that they will not succeed."

In Pityana's view, it is important to look at who is funding the BLF, which actually staged a protest outside The Gathering's venue for a while.

"Why is the media continuing to give the BLF oxygen on its platforms? Many say it is about the global financial conspiracy. We do not understand the lengths to which they will go to loot," said Pityana.

'Only on the tip of the state capture iceberg'

"We are only on the tip of the state capture iceberg and are starting to see the extent to which state-owned enterprises and some companies are implicated."

He encouraged business to take a stand and raise its voice to ensure integrity in the business community, and said he would like to see organised business isolating those who are involved in unlawful activities and make examples of them.

"I encourage members of the business community to cooperate and speak out if they have evidence of wrongdoing. I would also like to encourage transparency regarding political party funding by companies," said Pityana.

He believes it is important for business to help fund quality investigative journalism.

"Business must ensure that we do whatever we can to ensure we get to the bottom of state capture. It has become a matter of getting on the right side of history," continued Pityana.

"Companies must now get off the fence and decide which side of history they want to be on, because the National Prosecuting Authority does not prosecute and the Public Protector is not worthy of the title. We must stand up and fight to ensure we reclaim our country from the crooks."

He added that he was inspired by a shift he saw in the business sector when it met with President Jacob Zuma to say the extent of state capture is unacceptable.

"Not so long ago, the business sector would not have taken such a step to address the president directly," said Pityana.

"There is, therefore, a big shift in business to take on state capture. The best way is to encourage doing so in an organised fashion and to hold people responsible. The private sector should also ensure that the media remains independent."

Regarding the funding of political parties, Pityana said AngloGold Ashanti usually funds political parties in proportion to their representation in Parliament.

"Anglo has a policy where we think it is appropriate for corporations to support political parties as part of supporting democracy," he explained.

He said government is usually embarrased when it turns out Anglo builds schools (as part of its corporate social investment programme) for a third of what it costs the public sector to do.

"I have a huge discomfort that it must cost government more to build a school, for example, and it claims it is due to having to comply with BEE. That is like stealing from the poor," said Pityana.

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