“As the inheritors of the legacy of Luthuli, Thambo and Mandela, we must be honest with our people and ourselves. We must acknowledge that our movement, the African National Congress, has been and remains deeply implicated in South Africa’s corruption problem. We have to be sensitive to the concerns that are being raised by our people about our role as a movement in corrupt activities,” President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote in a letter, addressed to ANC members on Sunday, August 23.
This follows the barrage of sick and tired South Africans demanding overdue answers from our leaders. Answers pertaining to the vast sums of corruption going unpunished, while the country pays for it. This coupled with why hasn’t the ANC Government been able to enjoy much success in eradicating or even slowing down the incessant growth of corruption? Left our president with only one choice, address the issue.
With disillusionment and anger rapidly rising among South Africans regarding the continuous allegations of corruption against the ANC. Ramaphosa said, our feelings are both understandable and justified, especially when looking at the recent allegations made against ANC leaders.
“In recent weeks, we have heard stories of tenders for personal protective equipment that have been given to individuals associated with ANC leaders and of public servants flouting the law in issuing tenders.”
Adding to the anger associated with the topic, there is also public outrage regarding private sector companies and individuals (including civil servants) who have exploited the pandemic to enrich themselves.
“It is a matter of great concern to us that corruption has so deeply infected the state, the business community and society to a point of threatening to undo the gains we have made in the last 26 years.”
He goes on to stress the reality is, corruption has embedded its roots far deeper into our society than anticipated. Laying waste to a hard-earned and once proudly treasured ANC. An ANC motivated by far superior morals and goals, then found today.
“As a movement representing the aspirations of the South African people, having fought a just struggle against a brutal regime, it was our intention and our hope that the overthrow of apartheid would herald a new era of integrity, honesty and ethical conduct by all in positions of responsibility. We sought not merely to change the political system, but to build a new nation on a fundamentally different moral foundation. It was to be a society based on equal rights for all, on solidarity, integrity and accountability,” said the President of the ANC.
A sad statement to ingest, when hearing sentences such as, “it was our intention” or “it was to be”. Confirming, the ANC has not just failed in dealing with corruption but have concurrently failed in driving the core values of the party.
Ramaphosa says this painful truth was recognised by delegates to the 54th National Conference
He said in a frank and direct diagnostic report tabled at the Conference, by the once Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe who said: “When our people protest against the unethical behaviour of our leadership, they do so not out of hatred but from feeling betrayed as they expect better and higher standards from revolutionaries.”
Building on this, Ramphosa went on to say, “When we went to the general election last year, we admitted the mistakes we had made, we acknowledged how corruption and state capture had damaged our country, and we made a solemn pledge to our people to correct our ways. Despite the clear progress we have made since the election, we still have to give full effect to the promise we made,”
However, the ANC and its leaders now stand accused of almost unmeasurable levels of corruption. Yes, the ANC does not stand alone in the evil world of corruption, but it does stand as Accused No. 1.
“This is the stark reality that we must now confront. At its last meeting, at the beginning of this month, the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) recognised the justifiable public outrage caused by recent reports of corruption. It said these developments “cause us collectively to dip our heads in shame and to humble ourselves before the people”. The NEC recognised that it had a clear mandate from the 54th National Conference to deal decisively with corruption and to restore the integrity and values of the ANC. It said this is a responsibility it cannot defer, outsource or avoid.”
But how exactly did the ANC get to this point? Especially when considering its original values as pointed out by Ramaphosa.
The fact is, for more than 26 years, the ANC has been in government at a national level and in most provinces and municipalities.
This means the leadership positions in the ANC have been seen by some as the most direct route to, in the first instance gain influential employment and, in the second instance, to influence the award of tenders and the distribution of other government resources.
Over the past few months, South African’s saw and are seeing how organisational principles and processes are corrupted and managed, for personal gain.
Commenting on this, Ramaphosa stated, “They see how this deviant behaviour goes unchecked and allows unscrupulous and sometimes criminal elements to flourish. We cannot then blame the people if they stay away from our branches, programmes and initiatives.”
Furthermore, Ramaphosa says the ANC’s lack of discipline and failure to deal with the issues in the party has eroded its organisational ethos and standing. This can be seen throughout the years, with corruption taking place in the state, in society and in the ANC.
Perhaps the best-known form of corruption is that of tenders and other contracts being awarded to certain companies, based on conflictual relations such as friendships or family connections. Not a day goes past without media headlines showcasing more and more allegations brought to the forefront involving high-ranking ANC officials involved in this kind of behaviour.
“For these people, success depends on who you know in the public service. Sometimes those awarding the tenders receive kickbacks from the successful companies. Then there are ‘jobs for pals’, where politicians and officials disregard hiring procedures to employ family members, friends or associates. Not only is this grossly unfair to other prospective candidates, but it often means that the people employed are simply not up to the task,” said Ramaphosa.
Moreover, as we have recently seen during the pandemic, there are ANC leaders who have used food parcels meant for the poor to buy political favours from those people in the branch or broader community who they rely on for their positions.
This behaviour sees the ANC, literally take food out of the mouths of the poor and hungry.
Then there is the State Capture, and let’s not forget about funds which were meant to better infrastructure for the poor and to improve the country being stolen by high-ranking officials.
“We must have the political courage and the honesty to acknowledge that ANC leaders, public representatives and members have on numerous occasions been implicated in such forms of corruption,” Ramaphosa stressed.
He says the time for action has come, stating the ANC needs to act urgently, be decisive and need to demonstrate a clear political will. The time has come for the ANC to be unflinching in restoring the values, ethics and standing of our organisation. Our deeds must, always, match our words.”
After all, the ANC cannot call itself the leaders of society, if they continue to fail in leading the people of South Africa.
The President speaks about trust. An element, many citizens do not associate with the current ANC. “We cannot hope to win back people’s trust if we continue to allow cadres who are charged with criminal conduct for corruption to occupy positions of responsibility within government
and our movement. Those charged are required to insulate the African National Congress from reputational damage arising from their personal challenges by stepping aside while their cases are being heard.”
To address corruption in the ANC, Ramaphosa says the ANC must implement without delay the resolutions of their 54th National Conference on dealing with corruption.
This includes the following steps:
- Every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices must account to the Integrity Commission immediately or face disciplinary processes.
- People who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures should be summarily suspended.
- The ANC should publicly disassociate itself from anyone, whether business donor, supporter or member, accused of corruption or reported to be involved in corruption.
- Conduct lifestyle audits of all ANC leaders and public representatives.
- Develop a clear policy on ANC leaders and their family members doing business with the state.
- Strengthen the Integrity Commission and provide it with clear administrative and legal support. The ANC must develop uniform terms of reference and guidelines for provincial and regional integrity structures.
- Ensure transparency and accountability in procurement.
Looking at addressing the growing concern around the blatant corruption, Ramaphosa says the ANC has also empowered the Special Investigating Unit to probe any alleged corruption or misuse of COVID resources in any department, province, municipality or state institution.
“To promote transparency, we are publishing the details of all tenders awarded under the national state of disaster. Our criminal justice agencies must do their work without fear, prejudice or favour,” Ramaphosa concludes.
While highlighting the importance of fighting against corruption in the ANC, can the ANC weed out the rot within its ranks after all these years? Can the ruling party regain the trust of the South African people?
Your takeaway from this is, we (South Africans) made ourselves heard and now we need to ensure this not another political speech, but rather an actual, actioned game plan to save South Africa.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer
Photo credit: Image sourced from www.cogta.gov.za
Creator: Jacoline Schoonees | Credit: Department of International Relations South AfricaInformation extracted from IPTC Photo Metadata.