SA risks ‘kleptocracy’ status - Gordhan

IOL pic jan21 br pravin gordhan wef BLOOMBERG Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's finance minister. File picture: Matthew Lloyd, Bloomberg

Johannesburg - South Africa is at risk of becoming a “kleptocracy” if business ethics doesn’t improve, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said.

“There are many parts of transacting between government and business which have gone seriously wrong and if we don’t stop it, we’re going to become a kleptocracy,” Gordhan said at a post-budget breakfast in Cape Town on Thursday. “Government and the private sector in South Africa must change the ethical system.”

Gordhan is seeking to restore policy credibility in an economy hit by falling commodity prices, the worst drought in more than a century and sliding investor confidence in President Jacob Zuma’s administration. Opposition groups have raised concerns about the growing political influence of wealthy business people, such as the Gupta family, who are personal friends of the president.


“We need to change the business culture in South Africa,” Gordhan said. “What has happened to honesty and integrity in business?”

Spending problem

Gordhan delivered a budget on Wednesday that aims to curb the state wage bill and will raise taxes on wealthy individuals to help narrow the budget deficit to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product in three years time from an estimate 3.9 percent this year.

Read also: Moody’s welcomes SA’s spending cuts

“Money isn’t the problem in South Africa, it’s how we spend it that’s the problem,” Gordhan said on SAfm radio on Thursday. “There is far too much corruption.”

The government is seeking to improve governance at state-owned companies, many of which are facing financial difficulties and management struggles. Companies such as Eskom Holdings and the Post Office need to be more self-sufficient, with stronger management boards, Gordhan said.


Hungry for more business news? Sign up for our daily newsletter!

Click here for all IOL's budget news

Like us on Facebook

sign up