Friends & Friction: We need to be like Fidel and act bravely against corruption | Fin24
  • Load Shedding Schedules

    Find information for Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and other cities.

  • Channelling Thatcher

    A battle with unions will be the biggest test for Ramaphosa and Mboweni, writes Pieter du Toit.

  • Liberty

    We are no longer turning around, we are growing, says the group's CEO as profit surge.


Friends & Friction: We need to be like Fidel and act bravely against corruption

Oct 22 2017 06:00
Muzi Kuzwayo

You must “Castro”. When everything is at stake, you must never be afraid to Castro.

In business, caution quickly turns into quicksand, which will sink you and your reputation.

“Condemn me,” bellowed Cuba’s revolutionary Fidel Castro at the judges, after the prosecutor had requested them to sentence him to 26 years for trying to overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista.

“It doesn’t matter,” he continued, “history will absolve me.”

He was right. History did absolve him. He became the prime minister of Cuba, and a successful one at that – while his enemy fled the country.

I write about El Comandante not because there is any special occasion, like his birthday.

That passed by more than two months ago, on August 13, and we are about a month away from the first anniversary of his death on November 25.

I write about him because these are times that require courage from businessmen and women – not the empty calls against corruption that they make in the media just to gain attention. We need action.

The recent corruption scandals involving large multinationals from countries that claim to be shining examples of capitalist success and the bastions of business ethics, have exposed the true nature of how these corporations do business.

They have affirmed the view that corruption is capitalism in its purest form, espousing the survival of the fittest.

In the name of capitalism, those with the means to commit murder and deceive can rob and plunder at will, just as those with the means of production can exploit the workers and the environment at will.

How can we continue to believe the proponents of capitalism when they say the free markets will solve all our economic problems, when we now know that they are the manipulators and corrupters of the markets?

These companies pillage at will because they know that there are no consequences for their misdeeds.

They know full well that in South Africa there is different justice for different folk, that black people and their firms are judged most harshly – and that, for as long as companies remain untransformed, their bosses get to keep their get-out-jail-free cards.

The battle for transformation, friends, will never be won, because our government makes black companies jump through fires for crumbs, while foreign companies cream it with ease and send their illicit gains overseas.

This brings to mind what anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko said – not the trendy put-his-face-on-your-T-shirt Biko, but the man who put everything at stake, and who was so unpopular with the establishment that he was murdered.

He said: “Black man, you are on your own.”

In times like these, it is easy to slip back to type – to get angry and burn the whole thing down.

I have spoken to several black accountants, who say they feel as if there are different standards in their profession.

Well, this column is not about jokes, so I won’t even refer to the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants.

If we have any vestige of honesty left in us, we need to accept that the foundation of our country is skewed – and for as long as that is the case, there will never be justice.

South Africa lost all morality when reconciliation became the backbone of our negotiated settlement.

Accountability died at the negotiated settlement known as Codesa, when the perpetrators of crimes against humanity said to the victims: “You’ve suffered enough. Forgive now or else…”

Accountability is dead. Long live impunity.

But you don’t have to follow the wave.

You must Castro, so your conscience will absolve you.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

anc  |  accountability  |  corruption


Read Fin24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Company Snapshot


Cuts to the public sector wage bill took centre stage at this year's Budget

Voting Booth

Do you support a reduction in the public sector wage bill?

Previous results · Suggest a vote