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Once again at the centre of pre-election attention — the ANC’s electoral lists

Once again at the centre of pre-election attention — the ANC’s electoral lists
Illustrative image, from left: Former Gauteng MEC for Local Government and Housing Humphrey Mmemezi. (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Lungelo Mbulwana) | Dina Pule. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake) | Nomvula Mokonyane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius) | Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo) | Malusi Gigaba. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

The leadership of the ANC is again grappling with the question of (or fighting over) who to include in its party lists — an issue that remains unchanged from 10 years ago. Again, the ANC has promised voters it has changed, and again, it is likely that these lists will include people credibly accused of corruption. While the ANC has not changed fundamentally, South Africa has, and this could cost the party dearly.

On Monday, the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) began holding what was described as a “special extended meeting”. Its purpose was to formalise the lists of potential representatives to represent the party in Parliament and the provincial legislatures that must be handed to the Electoral Commission by Friday afternoon. 

It was clear that the main question would be about those against whom findings of corruption have been made.

As the ANC’s Integrity Commission has said, there are many senior members — up to 97 — against whom the Zondo Commission has made such findings, but who have not explained themselves to the party.

At the same time, the ANC Veterans League has been saying as loudly as it can that none of those people should be included on the party’s lists.

However, the NEC meeting appeared to end with no formal decision. Instead, there has been informed reporting that the decision will now be made by the party’s Top Seven national officials.

It is astonishing how similar this situation is to that in the ANC 10 years ago.

Then, at a conference at Mangaung in 2012, the party passed a resolution that anyone convicted of corruption must be expelled and anyone charged with wrongdoing must step down from their position.

However, when the 2014 elections came around, that resolution was ignored.

In a press conference just ahead of those polls, the then ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, was asked why Dina Pule, who had been disgraced as communications minister, had been included on the list.

There were also questions about a former Gauteng MEC, Humphrey Mmemezi, who had been fired after it emerged he had used government money to buy a painting in the parking lot of a McDonald’s.

While they were at the centre of attention on the list, in the end, neither went to Parliament.

Fifteen years ago, in 2009, the ANC included Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on its list, despite the fact she had faced so many claims (and was famously fired by her former husband, Nelson Mandela, as deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology in 1996). She too did not take up a seat in Parliament after the 2009 election.

More recently, just five years ago, in 2019, the same process was repeated.

Then, Nomvula Mokonyane was in the No 10 position on the list, despite the accusations against her for running the Water Affairs Department into the ground (the person who took over from her, Gugile Nkwinti, said the department was a “mess”).

Gigaba sex tape

Malusi Gigaba, already known to be a liar, and the first politician in SA’s history to feature in a sex tape, was also on the list. So was Mosebenzi Zwane, who had helped the Guptas buy the Optimum Coal Mine. Their inclusions were the result of a process controlled by the secretary-general at the time, Ace Magashule. As we reported then, he was reassuring in his support of these people.

It emerged after the elections that Magashule had been correct in his confidence. He was then able to install Supra Mahumapelo and Zwane as chairs of important Parliamentary Committees.

There have since been significant changes.

Now, the process is not controlled by the secretary-general, but by an Electoral Committee, chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Despite that, it is now — and was then — the NEC that makes the final decisions, which is why this issue has often been about the balance of power in the NEC. It’s why, in 2019, so many people who appeared opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s agenda were able to get on the list and into Parliament (and some, ultimately, into Cabinet).

At the same time, the ANC secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, repeated this week the party’s policy that at least 50% of those currently in Parliament must be retained to ensure continuity.

If this principle is to be followed, it will be difficult to make major changes to the parliamentary caucus. It could mean that some people with question marks against them have to be retained.

However, while the ANC has hardly changed over this issue, South Africa has.

There is more evidence than ever before that corruption will be a focal point of these polls, and there is, in some communities, anger at the party.

Ramaphosa is aware of this. It was he who said the ANC stands in the dock as “Accused Number One”.

And it is he who has promised, and claimed, and stated, and announced, that the ANC is in the process of renewal. And it is he who said just a month ago, “We will not stop until every person responsible for corruption is held to account.”

This has raised the bar. If the party now includes on its lists people who are implicated in corruption, then both he and the ANC are not standing by their commitments.

This could have a huge impact on the elections and energise opposition parties who claim the ANC is responsible for what the Freedom Front Plus has called the “plunder” of the country.

It is entirely possible that the final list submitted by the ANC on Friday afternoon will become one of the major issues of this election, playing a major role in its outcome. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    Sickness can move slowly but eventually it leads to death, the problem is the country becomes the casuality if this process involves a ruling party.
    If another party wins elections which will be unlikely with the big number of registered parties, the effects of the 30 years of mismanagement including the 9 wasted years will only be fully reversed in not less than half those years.
    The IEC is also another major headache of inaction.
    Parties not yet registered already threaten violence if they are not in the ballot.
    With this desperation one asks if the IEC is cyber equipped to deal with cyber interference, 51% is the figure that will affect our lives for the next five years and advanced countries suspect they were victims to such interference.
    Are we also going to wake up after the results?

    • Skinyela Skinyela says:

      In Republic of South Africa this is what happens inside a voting station:
      1. Manual voting
      2. Manual counting
      3. Party agents of different parties observe the whole process from start to finish
      4. Party agents then sign off on the results
      5. Party agents then report the results back to their parties

      What will cyber interference do under such a system?

  • Just Me says:

    This is why the only real, long lasting, electoral reform SA needs is to do away with the dreaded list system of democracy all together.

    It does not fit SA and the African culture.

    • Skinyela Skinyela says:

      And replace it with?

      • Peter Worman says:

        Good question

      • The real Ellon Must says:

        One man One vote Once

      • William Stucke says:

        That’s a valid question. A pure proportional representation system was chosen at the National and Provincial levels, but a mixed system was chosen at the Local level. This is because the Westminster “first past the post” system was deemed to be inappropriate at the time. Times have changed, and the failings of a purely proportional system have become glaringly obvious.

        The fact that a mixed system, with specific councillors assigned to specific wards was chosen at the Local level is evidence that it was recognised at the time of CODESA that Councillors need to be answerable to their constituents. However, all too often someone is appointed who has little or no connection to the specific ward.

        Benefit of the Westminster system: Clear and unambiguous responsibility to the relevant electorate. The elected person is answerable to everyone in the Ward, not just those that voted for him/her. Disadvantage: Smaller parties are unlikely to get anyone elected at all.

        Benefit of the proportional representation system: Small parties get a bite at the cherry*, with a few votes here and a few votes there eventually adding up to a seat. Disadvantage: The List system. Parties are elected, not people, hence those appointed by their party are not actually elected by their constituents and therefore can and do ignore them. Further, tiny parties have disproportionate power, as they can swing coalitions – e.g. see Joburg disaster

        * This saying is unfortunately all too literally true in RSA.

        • Skinyela Skinyela says:

          The constitutional challenge against the Electoral act, by some NGOs and NPOs, was about
          exactly that.
          The court ruled that independent candidates must be allowed to contest for seats in the national and provincial legislatures. But the outcome must result, in general, in proportional representation as section 46(1)(d) of the constitution.
          You will have to amend the constitution to the system to be largely constituency-based(a mix of PR and constituency seats, majority of which being constituency ones).

          The current system being implemented at local level is far from ideal, because although we elect cllrs directly there is no mechanism to recall them. Have seen some ward cllrs neglecting their duties to the extent that a PR cllr get redeployed from another area to come and serve the residents of that particular ward.
          We currently have parliamentary offices funded by public money, but very few people know and utilise their services… In most cases people think that’s it’s an office of a particular party because they’re usually branded with the colours and emblem of the party whose MP is assigned to that area.
          Will the top 2 parties agree to that amendment, because 2/3 majority is locked between the two and without the support of both of them we can’t amend the constitution.
          Is the electorate ready to elect most of the MPs directly, and also elect the mayors, premiers
          and the president
          My unpopular opinion: we should be exco system for provincial and national cabi

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Will the ineligible become illegible? – that is the question. Cartoon please! Or will the ineligible surface as a permanent stain on SA political integrity?

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Don’t hold your breath. As explained in this article, we have been down this road a number of times and nothing changes. The reality and bottomline is that the anc is rotten to the core and is in it, ie government, to plunder and steal the country blind, and turn it to their own fiefdom – exactly like their idol – the evil and bestial Putin. SA will see the same criminals, parasites, predators, liars and thieves continue in parliament and government. They look after their own as we have witnessed in the last 20 years and there is only 1 way that this country will move forward- get rid of these hyenas.

  • Michael Bowes says:

    As long as there is a party list system members of parliament will look to the provider of their positions and not to their constituents. Changing the system is like asking the fox to vote for giving up chicken.

    • Colin Braude says:

      The municipality councils are made up of equal “party list” [proportional representation] and directly elected ward councillors; a few independents do make it on to councils as ward councillors. To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence that PR or Ward councillors do a better or worse job.

      The problem with ward/direct elections is that it tends to be “first past the post”, which skews results: Donald Trump won his first term thanks to the electoral college despite a minority of the vote, in Britain the constituency system totally skews the outcome, Malan won the 1948 elections with a minority of the vote.

      Fact is, actors like the ANC will game whatever system is in place. Think of JZ783’s stalingradding the courts, Shabir Shaik’s “terminal illness” parole or the prosecutions resulting from the Zondo Commission.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Everything is different, nothing has changed!

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Clowns to the left of me
    Jokers to the right
    Here I am stuck in the middle with you…

    The EFF and MK are products of the ANC. All totally useless.

    Not one of those Tiny Parties have proved themselves any good. They might well be in time, but these are not the elections to test a new baby party.

    Enough of this ANC catastrophe, it is time, Ladys and Gentilmen, to vote DA. 

    • PETER BAKER says:

      …but alas when will our so called enlightened free press…..or so they tell us they are….cut to the chase and come out and say / write / editorialize this? I continue to hold my breath.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Deep analysis into the eventual outcome of the elections is pointless. There are only 2 possibilities worth talking about. What happens if the ANC is replaced? What happens if it is replaced by the DA? The alternatives are an ANC coalition or a DA coalition. The thought of the ANC linking up with the EFF is too awful to contemplate. As is any coalition involving the MK mob. The Multi Party Charter is our only hope.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      I agree. I don’t believe that anybody else has a logical alternative.

      If that eventual coalition is ANC/EFF there will be the usual mayhem. The illogical EFF will run rings around the fuddy-duddy ANC! The ANC will suffer from all sides!

      If the coalition is DA/ANC then the ANC will need to conform to some high standards. No racist BEE, a strong provincial federation and a civilized parliament, among others.

  • Gavin Knox says:

    Cader deployment, pure and simple….

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