The Banking Association South Africa (The Banking Association) notes the resolutions of the African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on 18 – 20 March 2016, related to the economy and ongoing allegations and reports of undue and illegitimate influence and interference in the state.
According to the Association’s Managing Director, Cas Coovadia:
“The Banking Association welcomes and shares in particular, the confidence that the ANC NEC has expressed in the Minister of Finance. At this critical economic and fiscal juncture, it provides a timely degree of political certainty and assurances to maintaining stability in the political leadership of National Treasury. It is also a critical requirement in our collective national effort to get behind the 2016 Budget to boost confidence and inclusive growth in the economy, attract investments and possibly avoid a further ratings downgrade.”
The Banking Association has consistently advocated for greater regulatory certainty, the removal of regulatory impediments and avoiding unintended consequences of new laws and regulations.
“As the Banking Association, we continue to affirm our commitment to working with Government to achieve the objectives of the NDP, the State of the Nation Address 9-Point Plan and the Budget, to support economic recovery, higher inclusive growth and investment. To signal positive indications to ratings agencies, we take forward our commitment, as part of the broader business initiative with government and labour, to work with the Government on concrete measures within specific timeframes to address regulatory and legislative uncertainty, implement necessary reforms and reduce impediments, streamline compliance requirements and fast-tracking blockages. This includes working with the new Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment, Parliament and a constellation of Government departments and regulators.” says Coovadia.
The Minister of Finance’s recent international investor road show brought into sharp focus the need for Government to swiftly ensure the viability and financial sustainability of key state owned enterprises such as Eskom and South African Airways. This includes the expertise on the boards of these entities and the impact they have on broader economic and fiscal stability as well as our international competitiveness.
“By urging Government to rapidly resolve the challenges confronting the financial viability and governance of state owned enterprises, the ANC NEC acknowledges that serious and urgent reforms are essential to ensure stability and sustainability in these entities. They have a far-reaching impact on our economic, fiscal and international competitive outlook. We look forward to working with Government on specific interventions to leverage the participation of the private sector’s expertise and resources in reforms of this nature,” says Coovadia.
There is no doubt that the current political climate and governance of state institutions are significant factors underpinning business and investor confidence locally and globally. This has a significant bearing on the economic trajectory of our country and our outlook as an investment grade destination.
With regards to the recent allegations, rumours and reports of undue influence and interference in the state, in particular the appointment of Cabinet ministers by persons other than the President of the Republic, Coovadia says:
“The affirmation by the ANC that the appointment of Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers remains the prerogative of the President in accordance with the Constitution is welcomed. However, as patriotic corporate citizenry we remain deeply concerned and disturbed that the worrisome trend of undue and illegitimate influence and interference in the state continues to represent a clear and present danger and threat to the stability of our Constitutional democracy.”
Furthermore, the Banking Association welcomes the ANC Secretary-General Mr Gwede Manthashe emphatically stating that no action will be taken against Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, for coming forward and doing what is honourable to protect our Constitutional democracy.
We hope that all members of the party and civil servants – past and present, who choose to do the same through the space created by the party to deal with this matter and through our institutions of state – will be afforded similar immunity and protection for doing the right and honourable thing in the interests of protecting our Constitutional order.
“We must be clear that ‘state and corporate capture’ is a euphemism for blatant corruption and is not in keeping with the central tenets of our Constitutional democracy. This cannot be conflated with legitimate engagements between ethical and responsible corporate citizens, business leaders and government to achieve innovative solutions and ideas to our country’s challenges and objectives. This includes the area of partnerships with the state and mitigating the risks and unintended consequences of regulation and legislation, to reduce and remove impediments towards higher and more inclusive economic growth and international competitiveness.”
Where corruption rears its ugly head, it involves a mutually beneficial and reciprocal interaction by the roleplayers concerned. In addition to dealing with the allegations levelled against certain non-state actors, the onus lies on the ANC to have strong measures in place to prevent representatives from becoming susceptible to these illegitimate and corrupt practices.
While the Banking Association understands the rationale for establishing a mechanism and process in the Office of the ANC Secretary-General for party members to report instances of illegitimate and undue influence, this cannot be a proxy for being answerable to accountability and investigating authorities. Corruption and failure to report corruption to the SAPS, are both criminal offences under the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act (12 of 2004).
“No individual, irrespective of their position and the office they hold is beyond reproach. Where there are reservations into questionable conduct, they must be held answerable to the institutions of accountability and oversight, including Parliament. Failure by these institutions, evading and preventing them from doing so, sabotages growth and investment,” emphasises Coovadia.
While the ANC NEC has undertaken a number of resolutions and commitments on these matters, on their own they will not avoid a ratings downgrade and improve our economic fortunes. Our economy and its outlook requires accountable and corruption-free leadership between Government, business, labour and civil society. This is fundamental, to overcome and improve the current state of affairs and to ensure that our Constitutional democracy is protected and that we are able to govern effectively.
For media enquiries or an interview with the MD please contact
Media & Communications Officer
Managing Director’s Office
The Banking Association South Africa
Tel: +27 11 645 6729
Cell: +27 76 791 6918