BLSA defends Khoza’s right to talk politics

2012-04-05 15:35

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has defended Nedbank chairperson Reuel Khoza’s right to participate in political discourse.

This follows an “attack” on Khoza by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe after Khoza lamented a lack of leadership in South Africa.

BLSA dismissed Mantashe’s “advice” to Khoza – “to confine his comments to business, and implicitly leave politics to the politicians”.

“We ... disagree in the strongest possible terms with the idea that business leaders should not participate in our nation’s political discourse. Businesses are corporate citizens,” the BLSA statement reads.

Khoza, in his chairman’s review in Nedbank’s latest annual report, released on Friday, said South African’s “strange breed” of leadership needed to adhere to the institutions that underpinned democracy. The political climate was not a picture of an accountable democracy, he said.

Mantashe on Tuesday hit back at Khoza’s comments.

“I would be very worried if the business community begins to think that it has a monopoly of understanding of political leadership,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said Khoza was tasked by financial services company Old Mutual to find a buyer for the company.

“He has not found that buyer. That is the challenge of business leadership who cannot do what they are told to do,” said Mantashe.

“Now to deflect [attention away from] him he talks about political leadership.”
He said the sale fell through under Khoza’s leadership.

“What kind of leader would allow this to fall through? He’s actually on the wrong platform. He must talk about business and Nedbank in particular.”

However, BLSA disagreed. “Businesses are corporate citizens,” its statement reads.

“They and the individuals who lead particular businesses have not only a constitutional right of equal importance but also a patriotic duty to join the debate about a post transition South Africa.

“To suggest that politics should be left to politicians is just wrong. To attack the person making the comments, making dismissive and derogatory comments about them, demeans the national discourse and is a disservice to our nation.”

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa today added his voice to the debate.

Mthethwa, in an opinion piece released by the ANC, said Khoza’s comments were thoughtless and devoid of substance and undermined the values, prescribes and intentions of the Constitution.

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