Gordhan urges corporate activism

File: Former finance minister told a business school masterclass on Tuesday night that electing President Jacob Zuma had been a mistake. Photo: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has urged executives to act in the national interest by studying South African history, creating job opportunities for the youth and embracing economic transformation. 

Speaking at a business school masterclass in Johannesburg on Tuesday night, Gordhan said this would count as corporate activism.

He lashed out at businesses for paying the bare minimum in taxes and at South Africans in general for becoming increasingly greedy and individualistic.

"We’ve got to learn to move away from the kind of individualist approach and spirit that we’ve acquired through all sorts of cultural influences.

"So read up Pope Francis… I’m not a Catholic… but I love what Pope Francis says about greed, about consumerism, about individualism, about the necessity for us to acquire, to develop a greater sense of humanity and generosity and the way in which we lead our lives. And that used to be the case 40, 50 years ago in all our communities. We’ve lost it."

READ: Gordhan: Auditors' complicity may not be new

Gordhan criticised auditing firm KMPG, which has been censured for its dealings with the controversial Gupta family. 

“While KPMG has done a huge amount of damage to my former colleagues at Sars, to the point where they had to lose their jobs and their livelihood and still have to work out every single day where the next income is actually going to come from, on the other side of the equation they seem to have assisted the Gupta companies for over seven or eight years to engage in all sorts of funny transactions. Let's put it at that level for now,” he said.

Electing President Jacob Zuma had been a mistake, Gordhan said.

“You hope that leadership would be able to bring about the kind of changes that are necessary to indeed serve in the national interest, to unify people on a different basis, and more assertively challenge poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa. On reflection, it was the wrong decision.”

He repeated his support for ANC presidential hopeful Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The former finance minister added that with the right leadership South Africa could recover economically.



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