13 February 2022
Now that the president has officially acknowledged that business, not government, creates jobs, it is time to fashion workable strategies that get the nine out of every 20 unemployed workers (including the eye-watering two out of three young jobseekers) back to work.
Business confidence is at a low level — trust in the future of the economy evaporated during state capture and the subsequent rampant serious corruption in SA, as revealed in the Zondo state capture commission and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) reports. These factors hamper new investment, and with it job creation.
The urgent first order of government business right now is to restore trust and confidence. It must address the culture of serious corruption with impunity that has so imperilled SA’s constitutional order and dogged the proper implementation of what the president rightly describes as “the best constitution in the world”.
He plans to do so in June. That would be far too late. The draft legislation already exists and ought to be debated and processed by parliament with vigour, with diligence and without delay; using our public participation processes to refine the drafts and protect our precious whistle-blowers.
In August 2020, the national executive committee of the ANC called for the urgent establishment of a permanent, stand-alone, specialised and independent entity to deal with corruption. The dithering in the cabinet on this instruction must end.
Cynics suggest the president’s June start date is designed to be a false start because by then judicial reviews of the state capture commission findings will abound and will be used by the president as a pretext for delaying countering the scourge of corruption that has the country in its grip. His own evidence before the commission suggests that he prefers his usual waiting game — even on the screamingly necessary reform of corruption-busting capacity.
Reform of the criminal justice administration to achieve constitutional compliance, whether via a new chapter 9 integrity commission or the establishment of “Super Scorpions” is long overdue. The political will to get the parliamentary process going needs to be generated by business, civil society, the faith-based sector, academia and the good people in the ANC who were behind its August 2020 resolution.
A tsunami of activism must meet the avalanche of corruption cases emerging from the state capture commission’s and SIU’s good work. It is the duty of the state to hold the corrupt to account — and to rake back their loot too.
Paul Hoffman, SC