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By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

There is a need for an ethical response and culture to improve governance in operation said Azelle Verwey, Capricorn Group head for legal, compliance, and Anti-Money Laundering at the 20th annual Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa) Conference said last week at Swakopmund.

The BEN- Africa’s stated mission is to strengthen the commitment and competence of Africans to do business with moral integrity.

Verwey indicated that “the pervasiveness of corruption in the operating context remains high and the need for an ethical response and culture is acute”.

She said it demands government, business, and society leadership to improve transparency, governance, and general awareness of ethical practices and behaviour.

Verwey suggested that collaboration is significant, as much must

still, be done to achieve the mission to strengthen the commitment and competence of Africans to do business with moral integrity.

Her calls come when the country is facing trials of some corporate leaders from together with a government minister are being tried by court on corruption fraud and money laundering issues.

One of the concerns that emerged at the conference was the lack of support and safe infrastructure for whistleblowers in the African context.

Although most people know when to blow the whistle, a lack of support and infrastructure to safeguard them hinders them from doing so.

Namibia promulgated its Whistle-blow Acts some years ago.

Concerning national whistleblowing, the question, “to who do you blow the whistle, and how are you then protected and supported,” Verwey explained.

She said currently, whistleblowers are advised to leave the country in fear of threats.

Furthermore, they must support themselves at their costs since

no protection from any government or organisation is made available.

Verwey pointed out that she is moved by this situation and further elaborated that Capricorn Group has ensured a whistleblowing platform in the regions where it operates.

Capricorn Group representative Horst Simon, a business risk officer, elaborated that some constructive outcomes included the perspective that positive ethical behaviour is more than ethical.

He explained that it focuses on the reasoning that individuals must ask themselves how they are a part of the problem and how they are part of the solution.

“Instead of strengthening the tendency to catch transgressors, we should acknowledge those doing right and reward them. In this way, ethical behaviour is promoted,” explained Simon.

The conference is an international platform for stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, non-profit organisations, and academia.

They came together and reflected on, discussed, and responded to the opportunities and challenges of conducting inclusive and principled business in Africa.

This year the conference was titled: Inclusive and Principled Business: Ethical Values; African Stakeholders.

Capricorn Group sponsored the breakfast event that took place on Friday 05 November 2021.

At breakfast, Fishrot whistleblower, Johannes Stefansson, received the Order of the Baobab award, and Nicole Cohen dos Santos (Co-founder of the Angolan Corporate Governance Association) received the Quiver award.

In addition, Alexis Habiyaremye received the Aloe Award for the Best Conference Paper. His paper was titled: ‘Racial capitalism, ruling elite business entanglement and the impasse of black economic empowerment policy in South Africa.’ Email:

Julia Heita

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