No-Nonsense Corruption Policy Takes Shape In ANC

After Cyril Ramaphosa said that the ANC stands as "Accused No 1" in what has become a party-wide effort to eradicate corruption in South Africa, we take a look at how events are unfolding.

No-Nonsense Corruption Policy Takes Shape In ANC[Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

President Cyril Ramaphosa appears to be completely committed to eliminating the rot of corruption in the ANC and has warned that he’ll take action against all leaders that refuse to voluntarily step aside from their positions while facing corruption charges.

The COVID-19 crisis in South Africa has exposed the degree to which South African politics is plagued by corruption, particularly with the emergency PPE procurement, which awarded the President’s spokesperson’s husband with a tender to provide the much needed equipment to frontline workers that are tackling the pandemic. Then the party’s reputation took a further hit after former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, was appointed by the ANC as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, despite being out on bail for a dodgy tender that led to her being dismissed from her post.

As a result, the president was forced to act and wrote a letter to ANC members in which he vowed to put a stop to the corruption that’s been plaguing the ANC and the South African political scene for decades.

“We cannot as the ANC rightfully call ourselves leaders of society if we fail to lead the people in eradicating corruption from our own ranks. 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,” Ramaphosa said.

As a consequence of Gumede’s appointment, the President has also taken a hard-line stance, saying that ANC members should step aside from their positions if they are facing corruption charges. However, Secretary General and member of “the big six”, Ace Magashule, has vehemently opposed this policy and said that he will refuse to step aside if he stands accused.

“People’s images are sometimes tarnished when there are no facts. We always say if you have facts as South Africans go and report any criminality to any law enforcement agencies,” the former Free State Premier said in an interview.

As a result of Ramaphosa’s stance and the factional rift which has intensified in light of recent developments, the ANC’s National Executive Council (NEC) called a special meeting over the weekend, which discussed the corruption allegations linked to its leaders and members and which were tarnishing the image of the party.

Towards the end of last week, former President, Jacob Zuma penned a response to Ramaphosa’s letter in which he said that the current president’s stance is not indicative of all of the party’s members – further evidence of the widening rift between rival factions within the ruling party. Ramaphosa said the party’s top brass had resolved to “draw a line in the sand” against corruption, as reported by IOL.

“The ANC emphasised that what seems to be a choreographed campaign against the president will not distract the movement from undertaking an intensified programme against corruption and state capture, as mandated by the 54th national conference,” Ramaphosa said.

Therefore, those facing allegations will have to appear before the ANC’s Integrity Commission and those convicted will have to resign from their posts. “If a member does not want to comply, the ANC constitution kicks in through a well-established disciplinary process that is set out in rule 25 of our constitution,” Ramaphosa said.

Among those who stand accused are ANC MP and NEC member Bongani Bongo who faces corruption charges related to the alleged bribery of an evidence leader in Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom. Andile Lungisa, who is appealing against his two-year sentence in the Supreme Court of Appeal for assaulting a DA councillor during a council sitting in Nelson Mandela Bay, has already been instructed to step aside as councillor by the regional ANC after the NEC decision.

Ramaphosa also praised the ANC members who have voluntarily stepped aside from their positions, saying “there are some people who of their own volition have already decided that they are going to step aside because they have realised and have got to hear what the decision of the NEC is and we must pay tribute to those.”

Ace Magashule has, meanwhile, insisted that law enforcement agencies should be allowed to follow due processes and not rushed into making hasty decisions.

“Don’t rush them because they want to ensure that when they charge a person, they may actually be successful,” he said.

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