Who Owns Whom

Although we are gloomy about the future of our country, there are some facts that brighten that outlook.

There are 24 subscribers to WOWEB from the state economic cluster at national, provincial, and municipal level, some for more than 15 years, and we have only encountered, without exception, skilled people committed to doing their jobs.

In the dark decade of the 1980s the country had a brutally censored media and a state appointed judiciary, but also a vibrant civil society made up of NGOs challenging apartheid, largely funded by the Nordic countries. WOW had the pleasure of working closely with those NGOs that conducted research on behalf of the labour movement.

Now we have an independent judiciary and a constitution guarded by a constitutional court and an assertive free media. And history repeats itself. After a legitimate government was elected in 1994, the civil society influence waned as it was no longer deemed necessary. This movement has had a resurgence in recent times and the number of NGOs has never been higher or more vibrant. WOW has had the privilege of working with a number of them since 2015 to introduce legislation obligating the disclosure of beneficial ownership of private companies, which is one of the eight outstanding issues required to lift the country’s grey listing. These NGOs are staffed by fearless, effective people who are determined to bring those few, who see the public purse as their personal ATM, to book, and they will also win this war. Another example of history repeating itself is sanctions being imposed by the international community to exert pressure for the abolition of apartheid, and now the imposition of a grey listing as a sanction against the lack of safeguards to prevent corruption, money laundering and terrorist funding.    

The impact of the grey listing is underestimated, as it is inevitable that foreign companies dealing with South Africa will require increased levels of due diligence to know your client (KYC) across most sectors. I do not wish to belabour the point, but WOWEB and WOW Data Feeds do exactly this. WOWEB assists with manual onboarding and KYC processes, while WOW Data Feeds help our clients automate certain of these processes. A number of our users who anticipated the grey listing successfully implemented these solutions. Should that be of interest, please let me know and we will engage.

On a lighter note, perhaps we should get ChatGTP to stand in the next election.

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