ANC allows the powerful to avoid consequences
The ANC’s internal conflicts over taking clear action against the corrupt in its ranks illustrate the wider problem of removing such people from positions of power.
OUTA believes all political parties should ensure there is no place in their ranks for those implicated in serious crimes.
On Monday, the ANC announced that members facing charges for corruption or serious crimes should step aside and face the party’s integrity commission.
While this is a significant step in the right direction, it does not go far enough.
Secondly, there are serious allegations against a number of powerful ANC members who are not yet facing criminal charges, who also require the attention of the party’s integrity commission. Limiting these referrals to those who have been charged allows the corrupt to hide behind police and prosecutorial incompetence or collusion. South Africa’s law-enforcement agencies are still battling to recover from years of destabilisation and weakened structures, allowing corrupt people in powerful government (many being ANC members) to evade legal consequences.
Over the past few years, OUTA has gathered evidence of wrongdoing and laid criminal complaints against people in government and state-owned enterprises (SOE) leadership positions.
Unfortunately but not unexpectedly in the past, police response has been wholly inadequate, allowing public figures with serious allegations against them to continue their access to power and public funds, thus encouraging rent seeking and corruption.
If the ANC is serious about cleaning up, it should also gather lists and complaints and charges laid by civil society organisations against its party members – starting with the MPs and ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) members – and refer them to the party’s integrity commission. Furthermore, actions needs to be taken against those who had oversight and yet failed to act against those who transgressed, such as the chairs of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members Interests.
Furthermore, OUTA suggests the ANC takes an introspective look at the legacy of current and former NEC members, including the deliberate appointments of SOE board members who were central to corrupt agendas and the protection of those individuals.
While OUTA is pleased at this recently announced action by the ruling party, we believe the ANC needs to go deeper and wider if it is to be sincere about its plan to rid this country of corrupt conduct by people in leadership positions. Until then, OUTA will continue to place the criminal justice system under pressure to step up and attend to their legislated commitments to prosecute the wrongdoers.