Strong leadership and punishment of corruption wrongdoers: steps to rebuilding confidence in South Africa

The Springboks’ decisive win in the Rugby World Cup has boosted every South African’s spirits (thank you Bokke, we needed this!). However, it’s a short-term boost, and our country’s long-term path will be determined by raising confidence in the long-term. To do this, we need to see 2 things:

  1. strong leadership, and
  2. punishment of corruption perpetrators.

In a recent survey, RMB Morgan Stanley asked households what changes were needed to boost their confidence in the economy. Almost 80% spoke of the need to investigate and prosecute officials suspected of corruption. In a recent speech, President Ramaphosa estimated that corruption has cost SA R500bn to R1trillion over the last 10 years.

We need action against corruption to improve confidence in SA, boost investment and grow jobs and the economy. We’re tired of waiting for perpetrators to be punished. Prosecuting the wrongdoers will boost confidence in the short term. Halting corruption and improving the management of state-owned enterprises will raise SA’s productivity and competitiveness, and boost confidence in the long term. Good governance is a vital part of boosting SA’s growth – in the short term and the long term. President Ramaphosa is confident that those guilty of corruption will be punished. In his speech he said: “People are asking when are you going to arrest people? When are you going to put people into jail?” He explained his role was to “strengthen the institutions that must do their work” and then step back. The NPA has been given budget to hire 4 senior advocates for prosecutions, so there does seem to be progress in this space.

The impact of corruption stretches well beyond the state, into private firms like EOH and Sasol. While EOH is the poster child for a corruption-fighting firm, it was encouraging to see another SA company willing to tackle mismanagement head-on. Sasol announced that their co-CEOs would be leaving as part of “consequence management”. Our state companies have seen similar moves – with execs replaced at many key entities.

Both EOH and Sasol have found strong CEOs to lead them through the short-term. Besides prosecuting those responsible for corruption at state entities, what we need now is leadership. A great first step would be an Eskom CEO with a deep understanding of the institution and a track record for dealing decisively with the issues it is facing. The question now is who is the right person, and are they willing to accept the job? Read more at

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