Conscience of a Centrist: Talent trumps corruption scourge

Johannesburg – The elevation of former Eskom finance boss Tsholofelo Molefe to CFO of MTN, Africa’s biggest telecommunications firm, is yet another indictment on the state capture project – and a validation that in a fair South Africa, truth matters.

Molefe, whose recent task was that of CFO of Telkom, is one of the many skilled black executives hauled out by Gupta lieutenants from key state-owned companies. At the Zondo Commission, Molefe relived the humiliation she endured at the hands of charlatans who were at the helm of Eskom at the height of state capture that led to her and her colleagues’ unceremonious suspensions in 2015, resulting in her leaving the embattled power utility.

The reality is that Molefe, whom Eskom deemed a surplus to requirements, has been embraced by the private sector and possibly forever lost to the public sector. This is the price the public sector has had to pay.

The same plight faced erstwhile South African Revenue Service officials who dared stand up against the capture of the entity. Many of them have found themselves in high-rise buildings in Sandton, still scarred by their experiences in the public sector.

The impact of corruption on black talent is a double-edged sword. Who can forget Brian Molefe imagining a shebeen in Saxonworld or Matshela Koko turning his back on a company that sent him to school?

These are brilliant men who could have played a crucial role in building the South Africa of our dreams had the lure of the Guptas not led them astray.

It is, indeed, a lose-lose situation in which the upright are maligned and shown the door and the equally talented but pliable have their reputations and future destroyed.

Putting an end to corruption will not only save the fiscus money, it will ensure that the public sector attracts the talent needed to lead SA in the era of great technological advancement in which nations compete for the next big innovation.

The reality is that the public sector is still the first point of call for many black graduates as corporate South Africa has remained hostile to those of a darker pigmentation.

There are so few black people in management and decision-making positions in the private sector that they can hardly make an impact on racial inequalities.

The least we can ask of our government is to nurture a conducive environment for black talent to flourish free of state corruption.

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