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Dear Elders, the ANC won’t listen to anyone

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Ferial Haffajee is Daily Maverick Associate Editor. In her long and storied career, she has been editor-in-chief of both City Press and Mail & Guardian.

Your letter to the corrupted and tainted comrades on the governing party’s lists was heart-warming for it evoked an ANC of old – one in which the elders are decorated with the Isitwalandwe/ Seaparankwe award and venerated.

Your letter evokes an ANC in service and in servant leadership to the masses.

I guess your strategy is to begin the pushback against the pushback by the agents of capture in your movement. But can it work, when the ANC does not even listen to itself any longer?

By its own resolutions, signed and agreed to at the party’s last conference at Nasrec in December 2017, where Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party president, none of the people who have come to dominate the discussion of the ANC lists is even supposed to have made it so far.

At the last count, these include former Cabinet ministers who became ensnared by State Capture. Among them are former Home Affairs and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba; former Mineral Resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane; Minister of Environment Nomvula Mokonyane, and the Minister for Women, Bathabile Dlamini.

A full audit is yet to be done, but the provincial lists are also teeming with fallen comrades who have been fingered in murder, in KwaZulu-Natal, and in the provincial corruption that is now par for the course. The provinces take a hefty 40% or so of state spending and regional corruption is endemic enough to have put two provinces into administration.

At the Nasrec conference, the ANC diagnosed the heart of its darkness very well. It noted:

An increase in corruption, factionalism, dishonesty and other negative practices that seriously threaten the goals and support of the ANC.”

It highlighted the monetary loss to development. It said, clearly:

“… corruption robs our people of billions that could be used for their benefit.”

It showed clarity in what corruption does to the ANC’s standing:

“… the lack of integrity perceived by the public has seriously damaged the ANC image, the people’s trust in the ANC, our ability to occupy the moral high ground, and our position as leader of society.”

Then the party noted this about its leaders.

The current leadership structures seem helpless to arrest these (corruption) practices, either because they lack the means or the will, or are themselves held hostage by them.”

So, the ANC as a whole, if indeed its national conference represents its whole, knows the blight that is eating it away. Yet, as a whole, the party’s structures have elevated the very people who have allegedly misdirected the billions away from development and into private pockets.

The party made 11 pretty water-tight resolutions to insulate its elections, at both the level of party and state, from the rot. It decided on a path that pivoted on an ethical and moral fulcrum.

It resolved to:

Strengthen our understanding of our values, ethics and morality and the demands that the people, the Constitution and the rule of law place on us as the guardians of the state and its resources.”

The party resolved that it would:

Demand that every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices accounts to the Integrity Committee … immediately faces a DC (disciplinary committee) process).”

The party vowed to:

Summarily suspend people who fail to give an accountable explanation or to voluntarily step down, while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures.”

This last part is important because it sets a standard that ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule publicly disavowed when he handed in the party lists and faced tough scrutiny at the IEC headquarters earlier in March.

He lowered the bar back down to that practised in the era of ANC president Jacob Zuma where the standard became that errant cadres would only face a party axe if they were found guilty in court and when they exhausted all appeals.

If the ANC stuck to its own resolutions, all the questionable candidates should not have made it onto the lists by the standards the party set itself; and that they should, by now, have been iced by the integrity committee or that they should have, by the standards of morality and ethics, stood down themselves.

We are about as far from such consciousness as Mars is from Earth. All of this makes me wonder, Elders, why do you think the ANC may listen to you when it doesn’t even listen to itself? DM

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