Defend Truth


My f*k, ANC — you’ve ridden straight into the goalpost


Melanie Verwoerd is a former ANC MP and South African ambassador to Ireland.

How can voters trust that the ANC is behaving differently when so many of those who have been accused of wrongdoing are on their way back to Parliament?

A few years ago, a clip trended on social media about a young woman called Marelize who was learning to ride a bicycle. She was doing quite well on the rugby ground where she was practising until she suddenly changed course and without any obvious reason, rode straight into the goalpost. Her mother, who was filming her, can be heard exclaiming in shock: “My f*k, Marelize!” 

Some days, when it comes to the stupid things political parties do, I want to use the words of Marelize’s mum out of exasperation. Last weekend was such an occasion. 

The ANC’s list of candidates for Parliament was leaked by someone working at the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The ANC was furious and insisted on an investigation by the IEC, which promptly apologised and sacked the person involved. I’m not 100% sure why the incredible outrage, since the list was made public the next day, but it provided a welcome distraction for the ANC from the real media story —  the names on the list.

Despite promising that it would not include members who had been implicated in State Capture and corruption, a number of these dubious characters made it back on to the ANC list in positions high enough to be guaranteed a seat. 

Why, oh why is it so difficult for the ANC to once and for all get rid of these people? 

Opinion polls tell us that South Africans no longer trust politicians — especially those from the governing party. According to a report by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation in December 2023, trust in leadership has plummeted to an all-time low. Up to 80% of South Africans believe that political leaders are untrustworthy and that corruption persists without any real will among leaders to restrain or curb it.

I do believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa wants and has always wanted to fight corruption in South Africa and his party. In 2013, when I returned to South Africa after 12 years in Ireland, I was shocked by the state of the governing party. Former colleagues pointed out many who had allegedly been involved in corruption, but did so only in whispers. Out of fear for their lives and futures, they dared not speak out.

After Ramaphosa’s victory at the ANC’s Nasrec conference in 2017, things started to change and it quickly became apparent that there was a new sheriff in town. Honest and hardworking ANC members were buoyant and hopeful that the crooks would finally be exposed and removed. Many were exposed, but getting rid of them was a different story.

In the 2019 elections, the then secretary-general of the ANC, Ace Magashule, still had control over the party’s lists. He ensured that many of the Zuma-ites who would later be implicated in the Zondo Report on State Capture made it into Parliament, where they remain to this day.

In August 2020, Ramaphosa sent shock waves through the ANC when he wrote an open letter to the party members about corruption in its ranks.  Not only was the letter brutally honest, it was also released to the public. This was unprecedented in an organisation which insists on dealing with issues “within the family”. Many worried that Ramaphosa wouldn’t survive. 

He did. Of course, there are still questions about why $580,000 was stuffed into a couch on his game farm, but he should be congratulated for the courageous steps he took to try to combat corruption in the ANC.

Now it seems that at this last, very important hurdle, the ANC and Ramaphosa are falling again. How can voters trust that the ANC is behaving differently when so many of those who have been accused of wrongdoing are on their way back to Parliament? 

I understand that the ANC’s selection process is democratic and “bottom-up” and that it can’t always control whom the branches put forward or vote for, but the party’s constitution gives the leadership the power to remove names from parliamentary lists if they are not suitable. 

So why wasn’t this done? We deserve to know the truth. 

Of course, the ANC is not the only party that has people with troublesome histories on its parliamentary list, but as the governing party, there is surely a higher moral claim on it to — at a minimum — put people of impeccable character on this list, especially since so many of the economic and social challenges that we experience today were caused by corrupt people who were either part of the ANC in government or linked to them. 

Political leadership matters. Not only is it important that the top leader is morally sound, it should also be true of everyone who represents the party on taxpayers’ money. 

The ANC will have to do better if it wants South Africans to keep voting for it. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Confused Citizen says:

    I keep hearing about these ‘honest’ ANC members. Why don’t theu open their mouths at the local branch level to prevent these dubious candidates from being nominated? Either they don’t actually exist, or the ANC, at ground level, operates on the basis of fear and intimidation. I believe it’s the latter.

    • Derek Jones says:

      Why would anyone with any integrity actually remain in the ANC?

    • Brian Cotter says:

      A quick search on my engine – At least 19 KwaZulu-Natal councillors have been shot dead since September. In Nongoma, only two councillors aren’t in hiding and, as a result, service delivery is non-existent.

      More than 150 politicians have been shot dead in the province – mostly over power, influence and money – since 2011.

      • Random Comment says:

        Honestly, Brian, who cares?
        The Government doesn’t.
        The ANC doesn’t.
        The SAPS doesn’t.
        The NPA doesn’t.
        The KZN voter doesn’t.
        Maybe and more importantly, why should we?

    • John Brodrick says:

      Many do, but they are quickly assassinated. Have you seen the figures?

  • Micheal Steyn says:

    One can only echo the title of the lunchtime napkin scribbled piece as comment here: My f*k Melanie. Or, as teenagers would put it: Captain Obvious. Nothing new, revealing or insightful here. A den of thief’s clearly looks after their own.

  • Anthony Kearley says:

    Contorting ourselves to “clean up” any political party is not how democracy works. The SA citizen has only one political power and by implication only one political duty, to vote for a new broom, a new party. Only then can there be a new sheriff in town.

  • Niek Joubert says:

    My f*k Melanie, It took you a long time to see the light!

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    You have been in Ireland too long. There’s nothing left of the ANC you knew. The ANC is now the enemy of the people.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    You don’t have a good understanding of the majority of South African voters. Nor do I. Which is why I will not be surprised with a high percentage of the population voting for the ANC yet again, this up coming election, despite 30 years of failure to improve their lives.

  • Gerrie van der Merwe says:

    You wrote: “He did. Of course, there are still questions about why $580,000 was stuffed into a couch on his game farm, but he should be congratulated for the courageous steps he took to try to combat corruption in the ANC.”
    I am sorry but one letter is not enough to combat corruption. He failed completely.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    a theme song for the ANC?
    “honesty is such a lonely word”
    “everyone is so untrue”

  • Peter Vlietstra says:

    Are there any untainted ANC members?

  • Agf Agf says:

    Stating the bleeding obvious.

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    “(Ramaphosa) he should be congratulated for the courageous steps he took to try to combat corruption in the ANC.”

    You mean the Ramaphosa that was deputy president during the height of the Zuma state capture years?
    Or maybe you mean the Ramaphosa that wants to ramm through the NHI, even though the entire civil society is being ignored?
    Could you mean the Ramaphosa that sat on the cadre deployment committee and oversaw some of the worst appointments in SA history (and which records have magically disappeared). 2010 to 2014 he was even on the ESKOM board, when it was already clear that we heading for trouble.
    Could also be the Ramaphosa that hasn’t fired any of the serious higher ups that are implicated in the Zondo report, nor has he even begun to actually listen to its key findings (he still fighting them tooth and nail). As far as I know the supply chain corruption is still in full force, and it seems that the ANC now wants to make it even easier to steal more money with the new legislation to that effect.
    He is the one that increased VIP (read ANC cadres) protection to 2 Billion rand a year, a real man of the people. He put people like Dlamini Zuma in charge during COVID, & we all know what that led to.
    When Ramaphosa penned that letter in 2020 it was already after over 20 years of hardcore looting. Literally everybody knew what was going on.
    No, Ramaphosa should not be congratulated, he should be cursed for what he (along with his thieving cadres) has done to this country.

    • Mark Hammick says:

      Karl, could not have put it better myself.

    • Paul Alberts says:


    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      Agree with you Karl. Melanie is seeing Ramaphosa through some other, very dirty, lens. As you pointed out, he has been in the ANC through all of the state capture and the corruption and the cadre deployment but still expresses surprise when the bad stuff is revealed? I’m sorry but he is a useless, cowardly, individual who could have done so much more for the people of this country even if had just taken the streps to fire the corrupt indivduals sitting in key positions. I think we have all been sucked in by the idea that if he was not elected as president then the country would fall apart. It is clear now that we may, perversely, have been better off having Doekkop elected as president as this would have seen the support for the ANC dwindle to even lower levels. We know now that it is imperitive to try and get rid of Ramaphosa and the ANC if we are to salvage anything of our country.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      A dirtbag of note is Cyril!

    • Colin Braude says:

      I think MV means the Ramaphosa who was ANC Secretary-General in 1996 when the Sarafina II scandal broke. He shed crocodile tears to the New York Times about the harm corruption did to party and country [Google “Ramaphosa Sarafina”].

      The main perpetrator of Sarafina II was then Dr Nkosana Zuma (not yet adopting a double-barrelled surname). As a move against corruption, he appointed her to a key position in the cabinet, especially concerning Covid-19, in particular regarding tobacco, in which a stepson had an interest.

      T̲h̲a̲t̲ Ramaphosa

  • Dov de Jong says:

    Melanie sees the light but does not follow it out of the tunnel.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    “I do believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa wants and has always wanted to fight corruption in South Africa and his party.”

    How on earth does the author maintain that belief I wonder?

  • A.K.A. Fred says:

    I preferred Melanie when she was writing for News24 because, as non-subscriber, I wasn’t able to read her articles. Now, as an Opinion piece writer on DM, I realise that I was spared her views rather than deprived. Melanie is in Lala Land and still believes that Cyril is a good guy and that the ANC is worth saving. Go figure….

    • Grenville Wilson says:

      Agreed, Melanie should stop writing this drivel before she is accused of doing it to milk her name! I used to think she was great about 20 years ago.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Melanie you are supremely misguided and out of touch with reality as far as Ramaphosa is concerned. The guy has absolutely no courage and retains his acolytes in cabinet for a reason. He calls them his ‘collective’ and dotes on them in return for their support regardless of their corrupt dishonesty. The man is an absolute weakling and must bear the responsibility of increasing the carnage left by Zuma who received his wholehearted assistance for 9 bloody years.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Karl has it 100%. He has been intricately involved at all levels of protecting the abominable anc at all costs and capacitating cadre deployment, the highly flawed NDR , the miserable state of our country etc. Cyril talks the talk but never walks the walk, and tailors his speeches etc. to fit the audience. He is spineless, useless and all he cares about is the unity of the hideous anc to the very detriment of the country. What is best for the party and government, trumps all. Self-serving, hypocritical, treasonous and deceitful to boot!!!!

  • Henry Coppens says:

    The answer to the question is simply that the ANC is not going to get rid of its principal proponents of their communist inspried National Democratic Revolution, whether they advanced its cause by design, sloth, incompentence or criminality, all of which play neatly into the aims of the NDR. Why would they kill the goose that lays their golden egg?

  • Geoff Coles says:

    You believe Ramaphosa….Major fail Melanie!

  • Abdullah Cary Fanourakis says:

    The press is the press and I commend Daily Maverick. However not everyone has the time or even ability (resources or literacy) to read independent reportage, and therefore depend on received opinion. The record of apartheid’s former beneficiaries since 1994 is whatever your opinion of it is, but what i take from the article is the need for this ‘group’ to demonstrate their identification with our South African community (and i believe Melanie does), much like all those ‘Peace’ movements leading up to that first democratic election.

    • A.K.A. Fred says:

      I get what you are saying Abdullah but, for me, identifying with our South African Community, also means supporting the best, most capable and honest people to get our country growing and thriving. We have people with vision and integrity who are unashamedly patriotic. Identifying with them rather than a group of inept, corrupt, looting cadres would be an article that got my praises, not this one.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      Not sure what a “beneficiary of apartheid” is, but presumably I’m one of them, even though I was flat broke in 1994 with a wife and 4 kids to support. Your point separates these “beneficiaries” as a distinct group apart from “our South African community”. Now, I ask myself, why would you do that? Do you, as the vast majority of black South Africans do, see us as not part of the South African community? Are we some alien life-form that needs to be exterminated or repatriated to the nebulous “West”? I ask this because subliminally we all communicate our biases in the words we choose – and I believe your post has spoken a mouthful about your attitude.

      • Abdullah Cary Fanourakis says:

        Thanks for a response. In your statement “Are we some alien life-form…..” , the ‘we’ is separated out from ‘us’ and to my mind community is inclusive of all, even the so-called bad-apples. However you do correctly infer that I feel ashamed of the little i did opposing apartheid. I also cannot agree with you that the majority of black south africans “see us as not part of the South African community?” My intent is to motivate for actual connections across the political fracture lines because we are a community regardless of what we ‘think’. Peace.

      • Skinyela Skinyela says:

        Would you be so kind as to avail your evidence and provide the source(s) that majority of black people do not see you as part of South Africa?

      • ST ST says:

        If apartheid did not do to you what it did to blacks then you benefited. Chiefly, you got to live in a house with services, good neighbourhood, good schools, etc. It wasn’t your fault/decision, unless you supported or engineered apartheid

        I know a small place where SA police same training etc, lived in different accommodation across a fence. Whites, brick houses with all the mod cons, blacks built own mud houses and a had communal shower. Black kids used to rummage white houses bins and fight over broken bits of toys. They had to walk kilometres through snake infested forests amongst other things to get to school for their second class education come rain or shine Clearly someone benefited.

  • Fernando Moreira says:

    The ANC cant exist without corruption !!
    The biggest threat to the future of South Africa is not the ANC but the ANC voter ,who quite frankly is a sandwhich short of a picnic ,considering what has been laid bare before us!!!
    Melanie will you vote differently this time ??
    Vote DA !!

    • Stephen Paul says:

      The majority of voters who are still left voting cANCer are those folk who cannot afford a sandwich let alone a picnic, and are being hoodwinked into believing that their social grant depends on their liberation party who has kept them in dire poverty and uneducated for this reason, and are terrified of voting F*K the ANC. Why is the DA and other parties not doing a better job of reaching these voters ?

  • M E says:

    It’s funny and very sad that the writer of this article believes Ramaphosa is honest. Clearly forgetting that he was Deputy President to Jacob Zuma and did NOTHING to stop the looting. Did NOTHING to stop the Guptas, has not fired a single minister or done anything to restore faith in the ANC. Past transgressions are easily forgotten with time,but not in this case. Ramaphosa looted along with all those implicated. He’s no better.

  • Jimbo Smith says:

    Ya…need…fok! Reality check; Squirrel never studied or understood the Leadership 101 script. BOLD DECISIVE FEARLESS!!

  • Peter Herbst says:

    I dont agree with this at all. Anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with any official/cadre/muppit is very much aware of the gangster attitude oozing out of them. The attitude is simply that we are the peasants and that they are royalty, untouchable. As a country, we have failed ourselves by re-electing these people over and over again. Ramapopo is not as big an idiot as he looks. The “Don” lines his pockets much the same as the rest of the “family”. Organised crime at the highest level. There is almost nothing left of our country. And that affects all, regardless of race. These criminals will not be content until they have utterly destroyed everything.

  • Kevin Venter says:

    In a den of thieves, how can any individual point a finger? The reasons that those names are still on the list are:
    A) If everybody is guilty of wrongdoing, how can anybody who is just a guilty as the next be the person who judges?
    B) The ANC has no interest in fighting corruption because as Jacob Zuma so elegantly put it, “Corruption is a Western thing”. In Africa, this is how you do business. You steal the money until there is none left and then you put up the prices to refill the empty purse so that it can all be done again.

    The problem with the whole charade is that the voting base are too stupid to realise that the money that is meant for the people is being stolen by the very people on that same list that the voters they keep in power by voting for the cancer that is the African National Congress.

  • The Flying Scotsman says:

    “constitution gives the leadership the power to remove names from parliamentary lists if they are not suitable.” They would not dare! These are people who know where the skeletons are hidden, and you start excluding them and they will start spilling the beans on one another. Look what happened when the ANC cast Arthur Fraser aside and he threw Squirriel under the bus exposing his millions hidden in the couch. That was a warning. They all need to stick together to protect themselves, or those left out will expose those on the inside.

  • Johannes Jansen says:

    In the article, as much as in all the commentary, the focus is on the politicians and how bad they are ( which is undisputable !) ..but the true enemy to our democracy and the fulfillment of the African Dream, are the VOTERS !!! The masses ( 60%+) of them chose the ANC and the ‘annus horribalus that they represent…..Eissshhhhh

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    The fact that the author of this article says that the ANC changed after 2017, to quote…. “After Ramaphosa’s victory at the ANC’s Nasrec conference in 2017, things started to change and it quickly became apparent that there was a new sheriff in town.” Tells us a lot about her loyalty, which is great, but it does show her up as one of the millions of blind supporters who refuse to see the reality of the trouble we are in.

  • real dutoit says:

    All you couch journalists….stop playing the (wo)man and play the ball. MV wrote the article as a journalist, but you attack her
    Affiliations and personality. Get a life, people

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