The Department of Trade and Industry has published a set of guidelines for good business practice by South African companies operating elsewhere in Africa, to ensure responsible corporate citizenship across the continent.
The Guidelines for Good Business Practice for South African Companies Operating in the Rest of Africa were developed in consultation with other government departments, the private sector and labour.
"Responsible corporate citizenship is integral to good corporate governance," Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says in the foreword. "South Africa's growing role on the continent necessitates that South African businesses behave as responsible corporate citizens when investing and operating in Africa."
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The guidelines are a set of voluntary principles and standards to promote responsible business conduct. They provide a guiding framework for South African companies, as active members of the continental business community, to promote sustainable economic development in Africa in accordance with the continent's socioeconomic developmental imperatives.
The guidelines set out sound business practices for South African businesses in the form of principles and standards of good practice that are consistent with South African legislation, the laws of host countries, as well as internationally recognised standards.
Watch Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies deliver the keynote address at the launch of the guidelines:
The guidelines also support South Africa's strategic priority to expand its private sector presence on the rest of the continent, and to encourage the private sector to promote local and regional economic development. This will contribute to advancing the development integration agenda by promoting industrial development, and boosting intra-Africa trade and interconnectivity through investment in infrastructure development.
As an AU member state, South Africa's growing political and economic role in the rest of Africa requires that South African companies adhere to high standards of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. South Africa has also played a leading role in developing corporate governance standards and integrated reporting, as set out in the Companies Act, 2008 (Act No. 71 of 2008) and the internationally acclaimed King Report on Corporate Governance.
South African companies are, therefore, highly regarded in terms of their financial reporting and governance standards.
In addition, these guidelines aim to encourage South African companies to follow practices that are fully aligned with the values underpinning the South African Constitution and Government's foreign policy, as it relates to the African development agenda. They comprise 12 principles that provide a guiding framework on acceptable behaviour, which is supportive of Government's effort to promote sustainable development in Africa. This is necessary in cultivating and upholding positive and mutually beneficial relationships between companies and the societies in which they operate.
The South African Government recognises the competitive environments in which South African companies are required to operate, as well as the variety of legal and regulatory systems that are in place. These guidelines, therefore, aim to promote responsible corporate citizenship by encouraging a commitment to compliance with the laws and policies of the countries in which South African businesses operate, and adherence to international best practice. International and regional instruments were utilised in drafting these guidelines1 and, in many respects, adapted to apply more directly to South African companies operating in the rest of Africa to ensure alignment with the South African government's developmental approach to Africa.