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Busi Mavuso, the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, has made some very disturbing comments about the so-called ‘Trust Gap’ that exists between our government and the business world–the biggest one in the world, according to her. Is she right? Andre Walters explores what she said about this subject on the 25th of March 2024…

Busi Mavuso said: “The annual Edelman Trust Barometer last week provided some interesting insights into the public’s view of business and government. What stood out in the South African results was the relatively high trust in business compared to government. The gap between the two is the largest in the world. Business has a trust rating of 62 (out of 100) while government is rated at 29.”

Busi Mavuso

She therefore points out that 61% of South Africans believe partnerships between business and government can lead to a more trustworthy management of technology-led changes. This perception, according to her insights, has rocketed in the last ten years; among the highest increases of the countries that have been surveyed. At a more granular level, it was interesting, she believes, that South African respondents have a high trust in renewable energy innovation, but a low trust in the energy sector, overall, and that this has reflected views about Eskom’s position about new renewable energy production being created by the private sector. Since then, Eskom has come to a more positive position regarding independent energy producers—something that is making people much happier.

“The growth in public confidence in partnerships between business and government reflects the successes we’ve had from Covid onwards in delivering positive change for the public by working together. The evidence is clear to see that when business, and the government, combine their strengths, the public benefits.”

She also points out that the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme is one of the most successful examples of government and business working together in the last 15 years. More recently, thanks to changes in regulation, business has rapidly committed to major additional investments in renewable energy production.

She also says that she believes that the potential for this kind of cooperation is clear when it comes to developing infrastructure. Also, the ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium’, an annual event for government and the private sector to announce big numbers of intended infrastructure investment, was recently held. There, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that South Africa needs an additional R1.6 trillion of public sector investment and R3.2 trillion of private sector investment. He also indicated that public-private partnerships are being made easier by regulatory reforms.

“PPPs are an important mechanism to get more from government-and-business working together. They can bring together the strengths of both parties, including the technical and management capabilities of the private sector and the risk-bearing capability of the public sector to ensure that infrastructure is built fast, at a high quality and that it is then managed well.”

However, it is being said that the ‘trust problem for South Africans’ is the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

Also, on this front, there were two other highly notable and concerning events recently: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula temporarily stepped aside from her role as the Speaker of Parliament, amid a corruption investigation. Also, the death by suicide of the former Steinhoff CEO, Markus Jooste, the day before he was due to be arrested and the day after he was fined a record R475 million by the Financial Services Conduct Authority, has caused a great deal of Press coverage.

The investigation of Mapisa-Nqakula has also been more-than-high profile and it shows that the authorities are doing their work without fear of public retribution. Of course, the investigation must be conducted, fully, and a prosecution mounted, before any finding will be made that will conclude the matter, but it is very important for public trust in our government that the authorities should be seen to be doing their work thoroughly.

Of course, the death of Jooste is also widely influencing public opinion.

She says: “Many, I am sure, will be frustrated that Jooste will now never have his day in court to answer to the crimes he is alleged to have committed in the biggest corporate fraud in South African history. There are others being investigated and charged connected to Steinhoff and I expect they will be in court soon. Steinhoff was a major blow to the trust of investors and ordinary South Africans in business, and it is essential that those involved face the consequences. This case helps to restore trust in business, as cases like that against Mapisa-Nqakula help to restore trust in the government.”

She also points out that trust is a valuable commodity in a society. She says that it is fundamental to enabling all of us to work together and to be confident that we are able to rely on our counterparts and associates.

“Business cannot work without it. Every business person must assume others will deliver on commitments without the need to turn to the legal system. Of course, a well-functioning system must be there as a backstop, and there has been low confidence in that system as it has battled to bring to book the many people implicated in corruption, from state capture, and also subsequently. But last week will have helped shift that sentiment. I hope that shift gains momentum with more arrests and successful prosecutions.”

Yes, we can only join her in that hope, because it is generally said to be the way to move forward carefully and successfully as a united country.

She also believes that as organised business, we are very committed to building trust. One of the many ways we do that is through supporting the institutions of the criminal justice system, including making available to the NPA funds for independent experts to support investigations and prosecutions.

“We also work hard in partnering with government to address our challenges as a country, mobilising resources to work with government on resolving the electricity and logistics crises and providing technical expertise to work with, and mentor, civil servants to improve capacity from local government up. We will remain committed to these efforts, and it is positive to see that the public trusts business and government to work effectively together.”

Then we get to the very disturbing case of Mapisa-Nqakula Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, who is the Speaker of the National Assembly. She was also a Cabinet Minister from 2004 to 2021, and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans between June 2012 and August 2021. She is currently involved in a huge and controversial scandal regarding a vote of no confidence against her by the opposition, but what she has to say on this topic in an interview with Jeremy Maggs is still very relevant and it indicates that she thinks that the ANC may decide that silence is best.


“Let’s pick up the story now as far as implication is concerned, and listening to this conversation is political commentator, TK Pooe. TK, a very warm welcome to you. Considering the serious nature of these allegations, what’s the impact or likely impact on her political career, particularly with the high-profile position as National Assembly speaker?”

Jeremy Maggs


“… In the short term, there has to be due consideration given to her stepping down so that I think the office she holds of being the Speaker doesn’t get impugned, and that’s in the short term. But long term, we have to remember this is somebody who was already on the way out. So it’s not as though the ANC (African National Congress) at this point is going to be losing somebody who’s a heavyweight, and her constituency is not such that the ANC is going to suffer if she were to actually suffer, let’s say, the legal ramifications of her actions.”


“So they’re not really going to rally around her and support because also the optics are bad for the party, aren’t they?”


“Exactly. Especially, as I think we’ve forgotten because of everything that’s happened within the ANC, but the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) was once seen as somebody who said that he’s going to do things differently.”

Jeremy Maggs goes on to point out that it couldn’t come at a worse time for the ruling party, given that we are now in a full-election mode. This is going to be seized on, no doubt, with a degree of absolute glee by opposition parties, as they have already started doing.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Tk Pooe agrees and says: “Yes, I think the thing here is it’s like the ANC is the gift that keeps on giving. But the key question that many people are going to be asking, and I think seeing, is how the ANC spins this because, at the end of the day, I think they can’t be seen now to almost say the law must expedite this, like they’re manipulating it.

“So I think it is maybe because of the slowness of our prosecution system–because if I’m not mistaken, having listened to an interview with Erika Gibson, this is something that should have long really been put together and put to bed and come to the fore.”

TK Pooe goes on to say that we’ve had so many of these types of incidents involving ANC bigwigs, that he is afraid that one has to say it’s another glossary of all the mistakes the ANC currently seems to be making. This is almost the Rubicon, where they say we’re doing things differently. As citizens, what we want to probably see is that our law enforcement agencies are actually now starting to work, because we’ve always been told that they need funding–they need this and that. He adds that we’ve not really seen evidence of this happening.

“So for us as citizens, I think it’s more of a bigger issue, where we actually want to see these Law Enforcement Agencies work.”

Their conversation ends with a reference by Pooe that these events might just be a sign of an ongoing decay within the social and moral fabric of the ANC and that it actually started long ago.

Clearly, this topic is a very serious one and it stands at the forefront in many media discussions about our Business world, versus our Government.

For example, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), which is a unique and independent institution that has been established by statute to ensure a fair and stable financial market, is said to be cracking the whip on such infractions. Alex Pascoe, the Departmental Head for Market Abuse at the FSCA, in a recent conversation with Jimmy Moyaha (the host of the SAfm’s ‘Market Update’ with his ‘Moneyweb Show’, where he brings his wealth of experience and insights to a broader audience) is reported to have said that as most people have seen the announcement that the FSCA has made regarding Mr Jooste (and also supported by people like Mr Schreiber—who serves as the Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration) regarding the many false and misleading statements that have been made over time in terms of Steinhoff International, we really need to take a hard stance on these perpetrators.

The main message that needs to be put across in our country is that the deterrent of such acts must take the highest priority.

Andre Walters is a veteran broadcaster.

By Editor