Private sector must not aid the corrupt

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

South Africans do not yet realise the true cost of corruption and the long-term damage it has already done to the country.

Corruption leads to bad decisions as we have already seen with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and its purchases of locomotives totally unsuitable for local conditions.

When decisions are taken on the basis of the kick-backs on offer we end up paying too much for unsuitable goods or services.

We end up with inferior equipment that costs more than the quality products that would have done a better job.

The effects of the bad decisions accumulate and that is one of the main reasons for the breakdown in service delivery.

The Gupta leaks have given us a frightening picture of the way procurement decisions have been made and the many billions of rands lost through overpayment. Now we must deal with the enablers and those who covered up corruption.

Fortunately there are enough honest people who are now taking great personal risks to leak information to the public.

We owe them a huge debt of gratitude, and at the same time we must encourage more people to come forward with more information.

The balance is starting to tip in favour of the honest and more information will come out about the thieves and those who have concealed or disguised the theft.

It is now clear that the scale of the corruption makes the Mafia and the Tony Sopranos look like petty thieves.

In the absence of any firm direct action by the authorities, the private sector must do what it can by withdrawing support from firms that have assisted the corrupt.

Companies have choices. We can choose not to support tainted businesses. And we can choose to support the journalists and the media who have done such a great job in unmasking the corrupt.

And we can choose not to support the media who have been playing down or not reporting on the Gupta leaks.

We can use our advertising spend to support the courageous publications which have been working in the best interests of real democracy.