By Pinky Khoabane
AS the African National Congress (ANC) discusses the much talked about renewal of the party, there are calls from many platforms, shared by its leaders, to look deep within and cleanse itself from the systemic entrenchment of corruption from its ranks.
In an interview with Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, former President Thabo Mbeki joined the chorus of former and current ANC leaders who are speaking-out against corruption. Mbeki spoke of a “Zuma phenomenon” in which corruption became endemic within government and society at large. He said this phenomenon was now called state capture in which “a particular business family had become so important that it took decisions on behalf of government”.
The “Zuma phenomenon” he said started from as far back as the advent of democracy whereby people had joined the ANC or even old members stayed in the ANC to get into government and use their positions for self enrichment.
This problem of the corruption of members of the ANC has accumulated over a period of time. He said the ANC had to look at itself and say; “who are genuine members and who are people here simply to steal….the crooks…”
At a Nelson Mandela Lecture in Tembisa yesterday, Regional Secretary Teliswa Mgweba delivered a hard hitting speech calling on members of the party to speak-out against corrupt leaders. She said the ANC was the leader of society and yet the corrupt practices of its leaders had condemned many members of society to despair. She said this was a “leadership of selfish, self-serving people” who joined the ANC for self enrichment. “You can’t keep quiet about corruption,” Mgweba advised the crowd of ANC faithful, who together with the South African Communist Party (SACP), had organised the event. The ANC regional secretary in Ekurhuleni lambasted those who looted state coffers saying their actions impacted on service delivery and resulted in the high rates of rape and murder, among many other ills that confronted the country. “We have normalised corruption…we are messing up the revolution..” a scathing Mgweba said.
Speaker after speaker, the message was the same – “address the rampant corruption sweeping through the corridors of power which, when questioned, leads to intimidation of whistleblowers both physically and through the legal courts”.
There’s a general view that the ANC ought to look within and cleanse itself of the corrupt element in the party. But can the ANC rid itself of the influence of business in a capitalist state, which ultimately creates an environment which opens it up to corruption? This debate has been ensuing for many decades within the party with very little results.
In the document, “Revolutionary morality: The ANC and Business”, the party reflected on “the impact of aberrations such as careerism, personal enrichment and corruption on the revolutionary morality of the ANC has also been observed and debated”. The call for a New Cadre by the 2000 National General Council held in Port Elizabeth was the first comprehensive political response to the challenge posed by the erosion of the moral values of ANC members. Reflecting on this matter in the May 2006 issue of Umrabulo, the NEC Political Education Committee argued that the ANC “should forge a cadreship through programmes that relate to actual challenges that these members face in their daily lives”.
There have over the years been many efforts meant to “provide political and moral guidelines to the ANC as a whole, particularly the leadership, on the issue of involvement in business”. http://www.anc.org.za/content/revolutionary-morality-anc-and-business
But the rampant corruption which has taken hold of the party and government shows that the ANC has failed to stop the corrupt influence of business people on its cadres. We know the power of money in determining the outcome of elections or the ability to sway the minds of the people through powerful media outlets which are owned by business people. With the ANC seeking to stay in power come 2019, what will be its response to the donors who as we know, donate for nothing else but to sway policies and government tenders in their favour?