South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, recently penned a powerful letter to members of the African National Congress (“ANC”) regarding the issue of corruption faced by the country. Although addressed to public officials, these comments by the president are just as apposite to society as a whole and how those in leadership positions in corporate entities need to rise up and take a stand against the scourge of corruption, taking guidance from the president's counsel.  

In his letter, President Ramaphosa highlights some key measures undertaken by the state to “disrupt and dismantle the state capture networks and decisively deal with the scourge of corruption”. These key measures are also useful for private companies to adopt when remediating allegations of corporate malfeasance and other irregularities:

  1. Bring in new leadership
  2. Replace board and executive leadership 
  3. Recover stolen funds and/or pursue individuals involved in irregular activities
  4. Publically disassociate from anyone, whether business donor, supporter or member, accused of corruption or reported to be involved in corruption
  5. Require leadership to make regular declarations of financial interests
  6. Conduct lifestyle audits of all leadership
  7. Develop a clear policy on leadership and their family members doing business with the company. Acknowledge that once one accepts a leadership position, a higher standard of behaviour applies
  8. Establish an anti-corruption hotline reporting and online service. This platform should allow ordinary people to report corruption

President Ramphosa's anti-corruption measures are similar to the advice dispensed to many corporates who have experienced unethical activities within their own organisation (unfortunately in many instances, off the back of an investigation following whistle-blower allegations of irregularities or misconduct by staff members). 

To enhance the above measures we suggest corporates further consider implementing a code of conduct, dedicated anti-bribery policies and procedures, together with regular anti-bribery training.    

Not only would these measures mitigate the bribery/corruption risk to an organisation, but will also demonstrate the company's firm stance and approach to fighting corruption by transforming the organisational culture and rebuilding upon on a fundamentally different moral foundation and, by doing so, “herald a new era of integrity, honesty and ethical conduct by all in positions of responsibility.”

In the president's words “let this be a turning point in our fight against corruption”, not only in our political parties but also in the private sector and, more particularly, in the leadership of both. “Now is the time for action”. 

Reviewed by Roy Gillespie, an Executive in ENSafrica's Forensics team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.