Activist for social justice, Jay Naidoo, on Thursday urged the South African business community to find its moral compass and not be complicit in the looting of the State by greedy individuals.
Naidoo, who was founding general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and a minister in Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet, blasted what he called a lack of ethics in the business community, questioning industry leaders’ credibility and morality.
“Look at the complicity of KPMG in the looting of our country. They don’t come from government, they come from the private sector. These are the guardians of the code of ethics that they have sworn to uphold. But what do they do. They collaborate in looting in our country,” Naidoo said.
“I think the mining sector’s decline was not because of the economy. Marikana and the decline of the mining industry happened as a result of complicity. Mining companies need to shut up, learn to listen because communities know what they need.”
Naidoo was delivering a keynote address on leadership for the future on the last day of the Joburg Indaba in Johannesburg.
He said that business needed to come on board to solve societal issues, including the growing global unemployment crisis, adding that the South African mining industry had lost a lot of opportunities for redress.
“How do we deal with what is growing unemployment not just here but across the world? Millions of people with degrees for jobs that do not exist. That is a crisis that we have to solve together. We are facing an ecological crisis that is actually bringing us to the brink of disaster.”
Naidoo is currently a trustee for Earthrise Trust looking at new models of rural development and livelihoods and sits on the board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that looks at leadership and governance in Africa and remains committed to social justice.
He also criticised government saying it must not think that the workers’ pensions in Public Investment Corporation (PIC) were there for it to misuse. Instead, Naidoo called for a collaborative approach to solving the challenges in the mining communities.
“Our state has been captured, there has been a ferocious looting of public coffers and our State-Owned Enterprises are in a state of disarray. Another corruption is how government has not developed some rural areas in more than 20 years. The greatest corruption is not Nkandla but how a farmer will cut water from those that need it,” Naidoo said.
“The war of words has to stop and we have to get down to business. If we look at Mandela’s leadership, we can learn that he represented selflessness and reconciliation.”