SA at critical junction to deal with corruption - Pick n Pay chair

Cape Town - South Africa has reached a critical junction as a constitutional democracy, and needs commitment to deal with corruption and economic imbalances, according to Gareth Ackerman, co-chair of the Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) and chair of Pick n Pay.

Addressing the annual summit of the GCCSA in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Ackerman said the country is "delicately poised" between success and reversing the economic and social gains that have been achieved since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Ackerman said the more than 12 000 member companies that make up the CGSA are committed to playing their role to restore economic growth, create jobs and address social inequalities in the country.

CGCSA members, who include the retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors, currently contribute 18.4% (more than R508.51bn) to SA’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employ over 2.9 million people - translating to about 23.7% of total employment in the economy, he said.   

“Not only has the strength of the democracy been tested by recent political events, but the government’s commitment to sustained economic growth has also been brought into question, notwithstanding the policy pronouncements that have been made - especially since the last credit crisis in 2009,” said Ackerman.

He added that, as the largest industry and employer representative body in SA, the CGCSA believes there is now a need for resolute commitment to deal with the structural and social economic imbalances SA faces.

“A commitment to transparency, respect for state institutions, accountable leadership and dealing with corruption are non-negotiables if SA is to move forward,” said Ackerman.

'State capture'

He said the issue of state capture has “engulfed” SA over the past year.

“The narrative on corruption continues unabated, and worryingly has encroached into the private sector as evidenced by recent events surrounding KPMG, McKinsey and SAP,” said Ackerman.

“On our part, the CGCSA, working with sister organisations such as Business Unity SA (BUSA) continues to raise awareness of the need for good governance and accountable leadership in both the public and private sectors.”

Tough times

CGCSA members have, despite the negative economic outlook and challenging trading environment, demonstrated remarkable resilience, in his view.

"Indeed, times are tough. Consumer spending is under extreme pressure, while the impact of crime – especially business related crime and robberies – continues to be a major cause for concern.

"The financial losses incurred by businesses during crime incidents (either during the incident or loss of trade) can have a negative impact which could lead to job losses and which in turn impacts the economy,” said Ackerman.

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