CAPTURED CABINET

Will the Ministers of Capture get into Ramaphosa’s next Cabinet?

By Ferial Haffajee 15 March 2019

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba hands over birth certificates to newly born children at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto during the Early Birth Registration campaign in partnership with Procter and Gamble. 02/12/2016 Kopano Tlape GCIS

The three Cabinet ministers who symbolise the era of State Capture are back in prominent positions on the ANC’s electoral lists — does this mean they will make the cut on to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s executive after 9 May?

Is there a link between the party’s lists and the appointment of a new Cabinet, the powerhouse structure in national government?

None whatsoever,” says a senior ANC official who spoke to Daily Maverick on condition of anonymity. To assume an appointment based on a position on the lists is “neither a reasonable nor a legitimate expectation”, said the official.

ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule on Wednesday confirmed that the two serving and one former Cabinet minister are in top positions on the party’s electoral lists. The three, along with former president Jacob Zuma, are synonymous with the State Capture story. Zuma himself reportedly turned down an electable position on the lists.

Malusi Gigaba has been shown in numerous reports to have used two different Cabinet positions — at Home Affairs and Public Enterprises — to enable the Gupta family patronage network. He walked the Cabinet plank after both the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a finding by the High Court that he had misled the court in the Fireblade case. (Fireblade is the Oppenheimer family’s private VIP terminal at OR Tambo airport which was the subject of a long tussle with Gigaba and the Gupta family.)

As Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini was found guilty of perjury by the Constitutional Court in September 2018 and her protection of Net1/Cash Paymaster Services, which ran the contract to pay social grants, almost destabilised the system.

Nomvula Mokonyane has most recently been named as receiving bribes in numerous forms from Bosasa, the facilities management company which has been in the spotlight at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

In addition, during her tenure as Water and Sanitation Minister, Mokonyane ran the department into the ground, according to reports from the Auditor-General and a series of exposés in City Press.

The three remain extraordinarily popular among the sections of the ANC. Gigaba has used his time out of the office to build his position in the party, while Mokonyane has survived scandal upon scandal because she is an excellent campaigner who knows how to work at the stumps. Dlamini built up a significant constituency when she was Social Development Minister as she parlayed her role as patron of the grants system into political work among grant beneficiaries.

None of the major polls suggests that the ANC will lose the election, so Ramaphosa will have the prerogative of appointing a Cabinet after the 8 May election. He will have to maintain party unity, but it is unlikely, says an aide, that highly tainted politicians will make the Cabinet cut as he wants to build a reputation as a reformer.

But the fightback in the ANC is in full gear in the courts and before the State Capture Commission of Inquiry where, for example, the politician who served as Finance Minister for two days, Des van Rooyen, will question evidence placed before the inquiry by former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile.

The former North West premier and strongman Supra Mahumapelo won a significant court victory against the ANC in February and he can bedevil the entire lists process unless concessions are made. Additionally, Dlamini, Gigaba and Mokonyane are all members of the ANC’s national executive committee, which an ANC president is almost duty-bound to use as a well from which to draw for his Cabinet.

All these factors may mean that Ramaphosa will have to build a Cabinet and a set of premier appointments that are geared towards ANC unity — these could include at least a few politicians the wider public outside of the ANC regards as untouchable.

This will mean that realpolitik wins over the anti-corruption resolutions of the ANC taken at its conference at Nasrec in 2017. In that resolution, the ANC said:

We publicly disassociate ourselves from anyone, whether business donor, supporter or member, accused of corruption or reported to be involved in corruption.”

In addition, the party resolved that:

The ANC should respect the Constitution of the country and the rule of law and ensure that we get the best possible legal advice in government to ensure our compliance wherever possible, rather than waiting to defend those who stray.”

Magashule on Wednesday defended the inclusion of State Capture comrades on the party’s lists and said they had not been found guilty of any allegations against them — in other words, without a process in place, the questionable list candidates are regarded as innocent despite court judgments and, in the case of Mokonyane, sworn testimony before a judge of her receipt of bribes.

The ANC also resolved after the Nasrec conference to “summarily suspend people who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down, while they face disciplinary action, investigative or prosecutorial procedures”.

Ipsos director Mari Harris, who will next week release the latest voting opinion polls, says having allegedly corrupt individuals on its lists could hurt the ANC as corruption is the nation’s second hot-button issue. The first is jobs and the third is crime. DM

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