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Sunday World | 23 October 2023

Had SA maintained our growth trajectory of the first 15 years, today the economy would be 20% larger at about $488-billion, not the current $406-billion, and would have retained its number one spot with Nigeria and Egypt at $477-billion.

The gross domestic product (GDP)growth would be about 7% and not the current less than 1%, and GDP per capita would be about $8 400 not the current less than $7 000.

The unemployment rate would be about 16%, and not the current 32.9%.

Maybe our economy would not have entered a recession. Our credit rating would not have been below investment grade at BB-. The Financial Action Task Force would not have grey-listed us, and we would not have had the highest inequality and the small and midsized enterprises failure rate in the world.

As we prepare for 30 years of democracy next year, it is useful to reflect on what we would be had we stayed true to the ideals of the Freedom Charter and the constitution.

Associate Professor at the Wits School of Governance William Gumede opines that “25 years ago, citizens hoped a post-apartheid SA would be a fresh start”.

Today, political and business leaders stand accused of money laundering and bribery. When Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of SA on April 27, 1994, many hoped SA, which had overcome apartheid, would become a moral beacon to the world.

The Zondo commission revealed systemic corruption by some members of the ANC. This is a reminder that fraud and corruption still permeate the highest levels of government.

Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index scored South Africa at 43 out of 100, noting the country “continues to stagnate” along with other African countries in the fight against corruption. State capture is a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state’s decision-making process to their own advantage.

Unite 4 Mzansi, an initiative led by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and business leaders, commissioned the Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Complex Systems in Transition to analyse, in much more depth, the extent to which corruption had pervaded the country.

In May 2017, a group of academics convened by Mark Swilling and including Ivor Chipkin, Lumkile Mondi, Haroon Bhorat and others, published the “Betrayal of the Promise” report – the first major study of state capture in South Africa.

It helped galvanise civil society opposition to the unconstitutional developments in the country.

The analysis was further developed in the book, Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture written by Chipkin and Swilling.

The 2017 book, “How to Steal a City “details state capture within the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality during former president Jacob Zuma’s administration.

Soon after Zuma took office, Moscow attempted to make inroads into Africa, all the while capitalising on a South African leader who had extensive Soviet bloc connections.

Finally, amid the countrywide debate surrounding the future electricity need, the Russian state nuclear cooperation, Rosatom, offered to provide nuclear reactors, despite it making little economic sense for the Russian company to intervene. Corruption costs the GDP at least R27-billion annually as well as the loss of 76 000 jobs that would otherwise have been created, according to the then minister of economic development Ebrahim Patel.

“Collusion increases the costs of doing business, stunts the dynamism and competitiveness that is needed and has a negative impact on growth and jobs,” Patel said.

The power crisis is costing the economy $50-million a day in lost generation, according to the government. Eskom is costing an average of R900-million ($55-million) a month in corruption, with the company burdened with debt and unable to produce enough power for the country’s energy needs.

Since the end of apartheid, the government has inherited a country with a critical shortage of low-income housing.

Other instances of corruption included bribery to pass shoddy work, corruption in the waiting list system, housing subsidy fraud and B-BBEE fronting.

The Covid-19 pandemic created an environment that was ripe for embezzlement, false claims, kickbacks and other forms of corruption.

The pandemic has led to a wave of corruption-related incidents perpetrated by high-level government officials from all over the world.

Corruption is endemic in SA. It undermines democracy and public trust in government and business.

  • Professor Mohale is chairman of Bidvest Group Limited, ArcelorMittal and author of the two bestselling books, Lift as You Rise and Behold The Turtle

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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