Cape Town – In a scathing attack on state looters, the Guptas and the Zumas, Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale called President Jacob Zuma a 'thief' and said two more companies will be suspended.
UPDATE: The cat is out of the bag - BLSA has booted out state-owned entities Eskom and Transnet for their involvement in corruption and state capture with immediate effect.
Speaking at a launch event in Cape Town where BLSA signed a “contract” with South Africa, pledging to do even more to create jobs and grow and transform the economy, Mohale said BLSA wants to make sure the "snake's head is chopped off".
He said government's organs of accountability have been captured and Zuma is doing everything to stay out of prison.
Mohale said corruption and state capture are the cancers that are eating away at South Africa. "They must be rooted out, crushed and punished where we find them in the public or private sector. This is our contract with South Africa."
Without naming them, he also said two more companies will be suspended from BLSA, similarly to KPMG’s recent membership suspension.
BLSA has taken a robust position on KPMG which engaged in unethical and unprofessional conduct completely at odds with the values of the organisation, according to Mohale.
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“The firm became party to the project of state capture, which has harmed our country, victimised individuals and damaged the reputation of business.”
Mohale said KPMG should have raised alarm bells when it was paid R23m to produce a report for the South African Revenue Service (SARS), but it looked the other way.
“This (the payment) was disproportionate and SARS used this to chase the finest among us, such as Pravin Gordhan (former finance minister). But they kept quiet,” Mohale said.
Similarly, KPMG kept quiet when the Vrede dairy farm was bought and when R30m found its way out of the country and came back to pay for a lavish wedding hosted by the Gupta family.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his chief of staff, Seipati Dlamini, played a key role in finding between R40m and R144m in the Free State budget for the failed dairy project in Vrede, Zwane’s hometown.
This project, the Mohoma Mubung Dairy, was managed by a Gupta-controlled company, Estina.
The Gupta family’s Linkway Trading received cash from the government to invest in the project, but instead the funds were diverted to cover the expense of the wedding.
KPMG has been widely criticised for not probing the R30m payment used to fund the wedding more thoroughly and the auditing firm is alleged to have been well aware of many of the key details surrounding the wedding.
Mohale said BLSA asked KPMG to “come clean”, but when it was not convinced that the auditing firm was genuine it decided to suspend its membership of BLSA.
“That is why we have called for an independent investigation and full disclosure on the part of KPMG.”
He also said an estimated R100bn has been siphoned off over the past decade to the benefit of two families in South Africa – the Guptas and the Zumas.
Mohale said business confidence in South Africa is at a 30-year low because of the behaviour of the government and its poor leadership.
“And while business must of course play its part, it is not enough. The government must start to govern in the interests of the many and not just the few. In too many sectors of the economy and public life, policies have either been poorly conceived or poorly executed.
“We are well aware that business is not blameless and we are cleaning our house first and foremost. But, as we acknowledge our own failings – we must also highlight that these problems are much, much greater and more serious in the government sector than in business.”
In business there is a culture of accountability, Mohale said, but this is not so in government where the organs of accountability have been captured.
“Too often Government contracts and jobs go to the connected rather than the deserving. That is why we supported the Cosatu protests yesterday and reiterate our call for the urgent implementation of the Public Protector's recommendation of a judicial investigation into state capture.”
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