Sunday, 19 April 2009

The ANC and corruption - the irony

Guest Blog: The ANC and corruption - the irony.

It is almost impossible to believe ANC leaders when they claim that they are serious about fighting corruption.

They never miss the opportunity to emphasize how much the ‘ANC is committed to fighting corruption’. On the other hand, they miss every available opportunity to act against their corrupt colleagues.

The most recent and perhaps glaring example of this is the ANC’s insistence to nominate Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the Travelgate fraudsters as candidates for the National Assembly. Both Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela and the five Travelgate MPs (namely Bathabile Dlamini, Mnyamzeli Booi, Beauty Dludlani, Angie Molebatsi, and Duma Ndleleni) are in the ANC’s top 100 candidates for the National Assembly.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela, by the way, had a five-year sentence for fraud and theft reduced on appeal to three and a half years for 43 convictions of fraud in 2004. The sentence was suspended for five years. Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela’s suspended sentence will only lapse in July this year by which time she will already be a Member of Parliament. While section 47 (1) e of the Constitution disqualifies ‘anyone who is convicted of an offence and sentence to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of fine’, it is silent about the eligibility of individuals with a suspended sentence to be nominated to Parliament. This silence, however, does not suggest that it is appropriate to nominate an individual serving a suspended sentence to be an MP. The nomination of Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela reaffirms the dominant perception that the ANC values party loyalty above good governance.

Now let’s turn to the Travelgate fraudsters. They are:

Bathabile Dlamini no 16 on their national list was ordered to repay R120 000 after receiving five year suspended sentence in 2006 for defrauding Parliament of R254 00 in travel vouchers in the Travelgate scandal.
Mnyamzeli Booi no 65 on the list is still facing fraud charges for his role in the Travelgate Scandal.

Beauty Dludlani no 58 on the list was fined R120 000 payable over 40 months for fraud involving R289 000 in the Travelgate scandal.
Angie Molebatsi no 84 on the list was sentenced to pay a R25 000 fine, or three years in jail, plus an additional five year suspended sentence in the Travelgate scandal
Duma Ndleleni no 79 on the list: She was fined R30 000 payable over three years and given a five year suspended sentence in the Travelgate scandal.

The Travelgate fraudsters collectively defrauded Parliament of millions worth of taxpayers’ money. They betrayed the same constituency they were supposed to serve with excellence: the public. The ANC never took any disciplinary action against them when they were nailed. It still failed to discipline them even after most of them pleaded guilty for their crimes. Now it sees fit to re-deploy them to the same institution they defrauded. If the ANC was as serious about fighting corruption as it claims to be it should have not nominated fraudsters to Parliament. Their nominations make a complete mockery of Jacob Zuma assertion that ‘the ANC does not condone or tolerate corruption’. In fact, all available evidence shows that the ANC rewards individuals with a history of corruption with the offer of public office.

The nomination of candidates to Parliament was a golden opportunity for the ANC to show that it is indeed serious about fighting corruption. Yet again, it squandered the opportunity like it has done in the past.

Their nominations undermine the country’s efforts to defeat the spread of the virus of corruption in the public sector. Parliament needs to be a beacon of good governance and ethical leadership. In order to be seen as such, parliamentarians and potential parliamentarians must be beyond reproach. But when the ruling party repeatedly deploys ethically tainted individuals to this institution, it creates the impression that there is nothing wrong in being embroiled in corruption as long as one is a ‘loyal cadre’ of the ANC.

The ANC has never been serious about fighting corruption. The badly thought move to disband the Scorpions is a case in particular. It is an open secret that the Scorpions were disbanded for their success in nailing corrupt ANC leaders despite all the conspiracy theories that the ANC and its alliance partners have advanced in support of the dissolution of the DSO.

The ANC will never be seen to be serious about fighting corruption for as long as it continues to elevate party loyalists with a proven track record of corruption to senior public offices. Unless, it is able to consistently show that it values ethical leadership over party loyalty, its ‘commitment to fighting corruption’ will remain what it is; empty rhetoric.

The ANC has talked the talk on corruption. But it remains to be seen whether it will ever walk that talk.

Guest blog by:
DA Political Researcher



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