One of the questions to be asked about the exposure of State capture in South Africa – on the political as well as business front - is why no one has been punished yet, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday.
“Lots of names have been exposed and I think Jacques Pauw’s book [The President's Keepers] is a brilliant and courageous effort to connect a million dots to see who played what role,” Gordhan told Fin24.
“The question is if law enforcement agencies will do their work. There is no shortage of information.”
Gordhan was honoured by the Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa) at its ethics and energy conference hosted on Thursday in partnership with Deloitte. Gordhan received the Order of the Baobab for being “a true ethical leader, striving to do the right thing even when others choose a less ethical path”.
The aim of the conference is to look at how to guide business on the challenging path towards sustainability and further an economy based on fundamental ethical values.
Gordhan cautioned that there is a danger of South Africans becoming so used to the idea of corruption and state capture that they no longer see it as an exceptional occurrence.
“The danger then is that we absorb the information being exposed in a ‘benign’ way rather than being angered by it and letting that anger fire up our determination to address these issues,” said Gordhan.
'Keep asking questions'
“’Keep asking questions on how to organise and act around the ethics issues so one can inspire the kinds of actions that will initiate change.”
Gordhan quoted Karl Marx as having said the task is not just to understand the world, but to change it.
“You often get people who say they don’t want to be part of the process of addressing issues like corruption. A smaller group will from the outset say corruption is unacceptable. Yet others are sitting on the fence to see if they can navigate their way through out - some are brilliant at this,” said Gordhan.
He praised the witnesses coming forward in the Eskom inquiry, like its suspended legal head Suzanne Daniels, for instance.
“Ethics and acting in a courageous way is theoretical on the one hand, but on the other hand it is also a choice and an action. With it comes an element of risk and a set of choices,” said Gordhan.
“There are many people with such courage in government, the private sector and civil society, who understand our democracy is indeed in danger. State capture (exposure) has made many people aware of what is right and wrong and who the culprits are. They will express their dissatisfaction in elections.”