On Tuesday 29 August 2023, the National Business Initiative (NBI), Corruption Watch, and independent global affairs think tank ODI released a report named Addressing Corporate Corruption in South Africa: The EOH Experience.
The launch of the report follows a webinar earlier today during which its findings were discussed by a panel of leading experts. In a session facilitated by Financial Mail editor Rob Rose, Stephen Gelb, senior research associate at ODI and lead author of the report, joined Busisiwe Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, and EOH CEO Stephen van Coller to unpack the details of the EOH case, and the wider problem of corporate corruption in South Africa.
State capture inflicts serious damage on growth in the wide economy, over and above the direct loss of public funds, through its corrosive effect on public institutions. This results in damage to domestic and international investor confidence and to the effective delivery of key public services, particularly transport and energy.
This paper’s starting point is the idea that corporate corruption has similarly damaging effects on an economy as state capture, especially on investor confidence. It examines EOH as a case study of corporate corruption, with the view that South Africa is a useful arena for such studies, given its substantial corporate business class.
Because the Zondo Commission’s focus was on public sector rather than private sector entities, it did not look deeply into the reasons for corporations like EOH becoming corrupt. The analysis here shows that while there is no doubt that the wider context of state capture in South Africa after 2009 was very important for corruption at EOH, the corporation’s problems preceded the state capture period and extended well beyond EOH’s direct engagement with the state.
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