'Corruption is no laughing matter; it destroys nations': Strive Masiyiwa

Businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa believes it will take a 'generational fight', similar to the fight against apartheid and colonialism, to stop corruption in Africa.
Businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa believes it will take a 'generational fight', similar to the fight against apartheid and colonialism, to stop corruption in Africa.
Image: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa describes corruption as the “abuse of the entrusted authority for illicit gain”, saying it is no laughing matter and destroys nations.

Masiyiwa was speaking at the ninth annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture in Cape Town on Monday evening. Tutu, who turned 88 on October 7, attended the lecture.

Zimbabwe-born telecoms magnate Masiyiwa began his speech by describing how he fought his way through underlining elements of corruption when he launched companies in African countries. He said some ended in lengthy court battles, while others saw him leave those companies. 

“I could have ended it in a single day by just accommodating certain people.

“I said no.”

He said it gave him a “heavy heart” to talk about corruption at the lecture.

“This is the elephant in the room to Africa’s progress. Corruption has no colour, no religion and no gender. Corruption is corruption. Make no mistake that both giver and receiver are corrupt,” he said.

Masiyiwa believed it would take a “generational fight” to combat corruption on the continent, similar to the fight against apartheid and colonialism.

“We need to put teeth into enforcement and end the culture of impunity. We need better legislation and enforcement. We need to enforce laws that protect whistle-blowers. The only people who think it is a secret [are] the people involved,” he said, referring to bankers and others who had sight of financial transactions.

Masiyiwa praised the work being done by the Zondo inquiry into state capture in SA.

“There must be more Zondo commissions. That is how we have to do it, but we have to go the full mile. It must end up with prosecutions; it must end up with those who have been found to have let us down taking the punishment for it.

“Not because we seek vengeance, but because we seek justice — to ensure that we have the foundations for a just, fair and dignified society.”

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