By: Celia Lourens
Since TEI’s inception in 2000, international funding has been acquired to implement various initiatives to enhance organisational ethics. As the title indicates, this article takes you across the South African border as we share one of our flagship projects in Mozambique. Prof Leon van Vuuren contributed with a lead opinion piece (15 August 2020) titled: “You cannot fight corruption by fighting corruption”. That remains the approach we follow when delivering on the promise of changing business conduct, regardless of the contextual environment. Mozambique is an amazingly beautiful country and a preferred vacation destination for many South Africans. What is happening in this country, beyond the natural beauty and ocean views?
Scandals impacting the economic wellbeing of nations are still making headline news across the globe. A powerful example just beyond our neighbourly border was the nonsensical debt of over $2 billion known as the “Tuna Bond” scandal which headlined globally in 2016 (Elliot, 2018). The Mozambican economy and its people are still suffering the consequence of alleged corrupt bank loans of state-owned firms (Cook, 2019). The complete disregard of value-based business behaviour by corrupt individuals will have Mozambican nationals paying for the indiscretion for years to come.
On the bright side, the discovery of additional natural resources turned the spotlight on the country again, with international extractive industry role players and investors rushing to benefit. This leaves the borders of the country and the conduct of representatives ‘to get part of the pie’ wide open, so one can only hope that international best practice will be considered in the dealings. This discovery will likely increase opportunities for South Africans to get involved, not only given the favourable geographical location, but also the technical skills and abilities of our business sector. This places more emphasis on the need for pursuing a collective discourse on responsible business conduct in Mozambique.
The collective action narrative – a Coalition for Organisational Integrity
The Siemens Integrity Initiative awarded funding late in 2019 to TEI to engage in a second five-year project to advance business integrity in Mozambique. Learning from previous cross-border experiences, working in Angola and Mozambique, the objectives for a collective action initiative and its impact on the business sector remained a priority focal area.
TEI conducted a study in Mozambique in 2016 to identify the drivers of corruption in the country. This study was conducted on behalf of what was previously known as the United Kingdom Department of International Development (UK-DfiD). The research findings served as the foundation for the design of the activities to address the drivers of corruption in a meaningful manner. Considering that when there is a ‘fight against corruption, it fights back’, the approach taken was to rather capacitate individuals and enable them to make better decisions, and to allow them to consider the impact of their actions, so that the change happens from within that ecosystem. With this approach, there has been some progress and movement in adopting value-based principles in the Mozambican business ecosystem.
As part of the current five-year project TEI collaborated with key Mozambican stakeholders to establish a Coalition for Organisational Integrity – or COI for short – that is actively strengthening the narrative on doing business with integrity. Under the umbrella of COI, the focus is mainly to bolster ethics management capacity. In a holistic diagrammatic depiction of the project (see below), the three objectives of the project are each supported by three specifically designed activities.
The first objective reflects the collective action narrative, bringing together business executives representing large and multinational companies in Mozambique, to participate in discourse based on doing business with integrity. The COI offers participants a neutral facilitated platform to share thoughts on topical issues. To elevate capacity advancement and align with the Coalition’s purpose, two best practice sharing sessions were hosted in 2020, with discussions focused on Conflicts of Interests, and Ethics and Compliance.
The offering of leading practice masterclass sessions brings together theoretical and practical experts sharing insights on relevant topics, with accolades from participants on the quality and value of these sessions. A series of three two-hour sessions focused on Codes of Ethics with experts Fatima Rawat (TEI), Hendro Nhavene and Jovita Fazenda (Mozambican Ethics Specialists). The first session was an introduction to Codes of Ethics, followed by Drafting a Code of Ethics and, lastly, the Implementation of a Code of Ethics. Participants who attended all three virtual sessions received a certificate of attendance. The leading practice masterclass series will continue in 2021, so be sure to visit www.coi.org.mz and register if you have an interest in learning more.
As a core element to address the increasing influx of investment by extractive industries in Mozambique, a small working group of apropos representatives are invited to a neutral platform on industry-related concerns and issues. Conducted under Chatham House rules, the working group sessions add valuable perspectives and insights as to the core challenges for companies operating in the sector.
The second objective of building ethics management capacity brings about an opportunity for qualifying Mozambican nationals to attend TEI’s flagship programme, the Ethics Officer Certification Programme (EOCP) as part of the funded benefit. One of the most impactful outcomes to date is that 12 Mozambican nationals are practising as certified Ethics Officers, compared to zero in 2015. This contributes to a systemic change in awareness and increases the impact thereof. Needless to say, it also inspired TEI to be more creative in our thinking on the language medium of this flagship programme. Accordingly, we aspire to pilot the EOCP in Portuguese in Mozambique during 2021. To support the extension of knowledge resources, a Portuguese Codes of Ethics Handbook was made available, a milestone for TEI. Additionally, the first-ever Ethical Culture Maturity Indicator in Portuguese is currently being conducted.
Changing the narrative with no boundaries
A longstanding partner of TEI, Ordem dos Contabilistas e Auditores de Moçambique (OCAM) continues to strengthen ethics management capacity for accountants and auditors and has implemented a Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. Resulting from the strong relationship between TEI and OCAM, a code of ethics for accountants and auditors in Mozambique was implemented.
The institutionalisation of the code of ethics provided OCAM with the opportunity to become an approved affiliate member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), whereby OCAM adopted and implemented an International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. The impact of this falls under the following legal parameters in Mozambique: “Under Law No. 8/2012, OCAM is responsible for establishing ethical requirements for professional accountants. OCAM issued an internal Resolution which adopted the International Code of Ethics in its entirety as OCAM’s Code of Ethics.” TEI values its engagement with OCAM, particularly with the launch of the OCAM Academy for Excellence in 2020, which offers relevant ethics-related sessions to professionals.
The last objective is a focus on building ethics management capacity within the supply chains of large and multinational companies. With the roll-out of the Ethically Aware Supplier Induction (EASI) programme, TEI celebrates the positive feedback and comments of course participants. The programme was rolled out in 2020 as an online-only programme and will be made available to our Mozambican audiences in Portuguese by mid-April 2021 – visit www.easi-onlie.org for more details about this programme and be part of the change.
Aluta continua – continue the narrative
In conclusion, the borders to South Africa do not limit the work that TEI does, but rather inspire us to do more across the continent for our fellow African people. The business integrity discourse is a critical one to continue, and the identified eagerness for theoretical and practical capacity is astounding. If you are working across borders in Mozambique, please join our efforts and participate to benefit from the project. The struggle continues! (www.coi.org.mz)
Williams, D.A. and Isaksen, J., 2016. Corruption and state-backed debts in Mozambique: What can external actors do? U4 Issue.
Elliott, L., 2018. Are we heading for another developing world debt crisis? The Guardian, 14.
Cook, N., Mozambique: Politics, Economy, and US Relations. Congressional Research Service, 45817.
www.ocam.org.mz accessed 18 February 2021.
https://www.tei.org.za/newsletter-archive/ accessed 19 February 2021.
Celia Lourens is a Project Manager at The Ethics Institute