Corruption ‘must be tackled with vigour’

2010-03-06 09:20

How is the experience you gained as Limpopo’s mec for ­finance helping you in your ­current role?

The experience I gained during my 12-year tenure as the MEC for finance and economic development in Limpopo has been invaluable and handy for me. But it is not adequate for the current task because I am dealing with ­national issues instead of provincial issues.

I came in when Parliament had just passed a new piece of legislation, which gives it the ­power to amend the budget or money bills. This legislation is an important tool that can be used by MPs to hold the executive accountable. MPs need a deeper understanding of their roles.

What are your views on the budget Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan unveiled last month?

On Tuesday, Parliament adopted the ­fiscal framework. We agreed that the budget that Gordhan presented falls within the stipulated ­priorities, both in terms of the ­election manifesto of the ruling party and the state of the nation address by President Jacob Zuma. Key among priorities is the creation of ­quality jobs, fighting crime, rural development, and ­improving health and education. The ­resources underpinning these programmes were captured in the budget speech.

Some commentators argue that involving businesspeople in politics and government could lead to corruption. What is your view on this?

One of the things we must admit as public representatives of the ANC is that corruption undermines the basic intentions of what we stand for. It undermines our ability to have the necessary impact on improving the lives of our people and it must be tackled with vigour. There is also corruption and fraud in the private ­sector, which contributes to a large extent to the inability of the private sector to create jobs. Corruption takes different forms, including ­the laying off of workers under the pretext that the economy is not performing well while the company executives pay themselves huge bonuses. Corruption has little to do with politicians. It cannot be that people with no business interests can be the only leaders in society. But we must discourage people who occupy political offices and positions of influence in government to ­advance their business interests.

And tenderpreneurship?

We must not allow government to procure from people who lack the skills, knowledge, and financial muscle to execute a state contract ­because this amounts to wasteful expenditure. In the last 15 years we have not been able to develop programmes that produce entrepreneurs in this country. The blame must be ­shouldered by the private sector because young people have not been given skills to gain experience because of unemployment. The only form of economic activity they are exposed to is procurement of services from government. Lastly, we should not paint all entrepreneurs doing business with government with the same brush. I think it is rubbish to confine this debate to targeting political activists or anybody with a struggle background because this undermines the transformation of our economy.

Do you support Cosatu’s call for lifestyle audits?

As the ANC president (Jacob Zuma) has said, there is a need for engagement over this issue. What does this call by Cosatu mean? Until there is further clarity on this matter, it’s an idea that cannot simply be dismissed.

How have your businesses fared during the recession?

The companies I am involved in have performed relatively well during the recession ­because they were not heavily indebted. My strategy was never to buy into highly priced transactions, but rather to look at an organic growth approach. This has worked well for me and my businesses, which are mainly in the commercial property space, minerals exploration and the motor sector.

What is your next move in your business and political career?

I have surrendered myself to the task the ANC has assigned me.

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