Posted on 2020-02-20 00:00:00
Since 2016, the board and executive of Proudly SA has been working hard to reposition the national buy local campaign. We have re crafted our strategy which has strengthened our value proposition for members. Our fee structure has been reviewed and as a result we have seen a number of former member companies returning to join the campaign and have attracted many more new members.
However, to give effect to these changes, a new executive and management team was constituted as the organisation grew. New people were brought in from the outside. Some were a good fit, some were not.
Amongst the staff complement, a small group of disgruntled now former employees threatened to derail the excellent work that Proudly SA does.
On 26 January 2020, a series of false accusations was made against Proudly SA on the spoof Twitter account @AdvoBarryRoux. The posts named members of our executive as well as some of our suppliers, partners and service providers.
The same accusations of maladministration, fraud and irregular financial procedures had been made in a report that was submitted anonymously in October 2019 to the Deloitte Tip-Off Line.
An internal investigation which has now been concluded, exonerated all those implicated and, in fact, found the submission to constitute malicious reporting. A further external inquiry, which we commissioned and which included a full forensic investigation, also found the accusations to be without any foundation, clearing each member of the executive and management of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
What was also uncovered during the investigations, was that one of these members of staff had themselves falsified documents in order to implicate others and to justify the claims made in the anonymous report.
All three of the afore mentioned employees have now been dismissed by Proudly South African. As a result of the public, defamatory claims that were made in the public domain, making false accusations and using names in the process, three of our executives are considering pursing civil suits against these individuals and the organisation has taken legal advice regarding opening charges of fraud and/or forgery.
In addition, despite the fact that Proudly South African has received 12 consecutive clean audits, the board has directed that we strengthen the controls within our financial management system to ensure that good governance is maintained.
The actions of the three employees failed to achieve their goals of casting doubt on the campaign and its integrity and of bringing the organisation into disrepute. We have continued with 'business as usual' and we will be putting the focus over the next fiscal year on consumer education, over and above our work to promote local procurement in all sectors.
Our 9th annual edition of the Buy Local Summit & Expo will take place on 23 & 24 March at the Sandton Convention Centre, and at the media launch, which will take place on 4th March, we will introduce our private and public sector sponsors who continue to support the work we do.
The organisation is waging a massive campaign against high unemployment and continued job losses and we cannot and will not be distracted from our work.