The corruption of the ANC

Jacob ZumaBobby Wilcox, a South African socialist who spent seven years in Robben Island under the apartheid regime, explains how the African National Congress has become notorious for its culture of self enrichment and corruption.

In 2007, when accused of profiting handsomely from his facilitation of a certain Black Economic Empowerment deal, Mr Smuts Ngonyama, then head of the ANC presidency notoriously answered: “I didn’t join the struggle to be poor”. This remark, which exposed his crass self-centredness, caused a huge outcry, mostly from hypocritical liberals outside the ranks of the ANC but also from within its ranks as well. But Mr Ngonyama’s statement was not without hidden sympathy and the belief in this idea has manifested itself to an ever increasing degree today. After all, Julius Malema, expelled president of the ANC Youth League also stated, “what the whites have, we also want”.

We are being confronted with a litany of corrupt acts by senior members of the ANC along with questionable appointments to high ranking state positions. We have had the appointment of Menzi Simelane as director of the National Prosecuting Authority, later ruled as improperly appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeal. There is the notorious case of President Zuma’s buddy, Schabir Shaik, who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for corruption, only to be released after two years in dubious circumstances for so-called medical reasons. We have the case of Richard Mdluli, member of the heinous “Special Branch” of the South African Police Service in the apartheid years, who was appointed head of Police Crime Intelligence, but later suspended on full pay, facing an investigation of murder, et al. Now there has been the case of former head of police, Jackie Selebi, found guilty of fraud and corruption and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment. He too has been released on parole after serving less than two years of his sentence, spent in the convenience of public hospital treatment. The list goes on and on – Julius Malema, who allegedly enriched himself through corrupt political dealings in the Limpopo Province, Tony Yengeni, convicted fraudster who also enjoyed early release on parole and now Head of Political Education in the ANC and the late Sicelo Schiceka, Minister of Cooperative Governance, who, inter alia, utilised state funds to visit his girlfriend imprisoned in Switzerland on drug related charges. Schiceka recently died at the age of 45 “after a long (undeclared) illness”, etc, etc, etc.

The corruption in the ANC is not without precedent. The history books are replete with the acts of the leadership of bourgeois democratic struggles turning to corruption and in many cases, brutal dictatorships to enrich themselves. After all, “we didn’t struggle to be poor”.

The petty bourgeois leadership of the ANC in order to promote its class interests, reached accommodation with the representatives of the bourgeois, the leadership of the National Party and formed a ‘government of national unity’ with them. On assuming power the ANC proceeded to reward Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and its other leaders, who had served long terms of imprisonment under the regime, by sanctioning their unprecedented enrichment. Nobody, least of all the now critical liberals, questioned where this money came from and what its purpose was. Then, the salaries of politicians and high ranking personnel in government offices were dramatically increased, besides the grand salary allocations for those in the employ of ANC itself. This was ostensibly to reward Blacks with the kind of standard of living that they were previously denied. Suddenly, it became highly profitable to be a politician, particularly an ANC politician. For instance, the chairman of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Andile Lungisa, earns a whopping salary of R790 000 a year. Not to be outdone the chief executive, Steven Ngubeni, earns the magnificent sum of R1.8 million (£141,790 /$222,450) per year. The Chief Operations Officer, Magdalene Moonsamy, earns R1.2 million a year. All are former members of the ANC Youth League – no other qualifications required. Salaries within the Youth League itself do not fall far behind. There have been serious questions about the validity and necessity of the NYDA which has achieved very, very little to promote the interests of the youth of South Africa to date.

All of this has resulted in an unholy scramble for lucrative positions that needed no special qualifications other than being a loud proponent of the ANC. Today the country is paying dearly for grossly inefficient and corruption ridden municipal councils which the ANC now admits is a result of the appointment of persons to senior positions for which they were not qualified. But the problem goes beyond municipal government. It extends to provincial and national government departments in no uncertain terms. We see for example, the tragic case of school text books not being delivered in the Limpopo province after seven months of the school year and the Dept. of Education only responding when challenged in court. The situation in the Eastern Cape is no better. Last year the provincial Dept. of Education overspent its budget with a number of dubious contracts involved and then dismissed 3000 temporary teachers whose salaries could not be paid. A number of schools have no running water and grossly inadequate toilet facilities. In spite of this blatant mismanagement President Zuma drily stated that no action would be taken against Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

It is becoming clear that the agenda of the corrupt has gained the upper hand in the ANC. This has prompted Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade unions (COSATU) to utter strong warnings, on various occasions, that if something radical is not done to curb this corruption then the country faces the real danger of a general revolt that can be equated to the Arab Spring. But it appears that except for a few, most of the ANC leadership are not heeding this warning. The recent ANC Policy Conference, ostensibly to conclude an intelligent approach to a number of issues troubling South Africa and its economy in particular, turned out to be a farce. There was a day long debate of a wordy document, backed by Zuma and supporters calling for a “second transition”. Others argued that the country was still in its first transition and to speak of a second transition was meaningless. The conclusion was a compromise adoption of what was called the “second phase of the transition”, without much of the original document being altered. Other serious issues, such as the agrarian problem and the call for nationalization of the mines were discussed at length. But all that was achieved were semantic changes in the old interpretation of the ANC’s stance and its commitment to neo-liberalism remains. Indeed, the conference appeared to be more about the leadership struggle in the ANC, in preparation for its elective conference to be held in December this year.

This calamitous state of affairs we find ourselves in South Africa today is rooted in the class interests the ANC leadership is pursuing and its open reliance on cheap populism, by way of which a large number of opportunists were attracted to and welcomed into its ranks. It could bask in its dubious accreditation as the leading organization in the liberatory struggle by the liberal press. Today the country pays the price. Protests at a lack of housing and service delivery continue apace. The ANC appears to be totally incapable of dealing with the country’s dire unemployment problem. The possibility of a major rebellion is indeed growing, while the radical left still struggles to find its feet, to present the nation with a positive alternative. In the meantime the conservative Democratic Alliance continues to gain ground. It is sloughing off its characterisation as a party representing those who quietly benefited under the apartheid regime and is attracting more support at the polls. The future of the country remains in the balance, but the working class was not and has not been defeated and critical battles lie ahead.

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8 Comments on The corruption of the ANC

  1. Zuma is the rotten apple. Rotten to the core. Get rid of him and SA has a chance to prosper.


  3. Philip Arlington // 17th August 2012 at 1:18 am // Reply

    You are not entitled to be surprised. The ANC was built on Marxist authoritarian ideology, and people with such ideologies are always corrupt when they gain power.

  4. Former radicals who sell out don’t have a monopoly on corruption and murderous strike breaking. The point about the ANC is that its lleadership is using the organisation’s role in the liberation struggle to justify its conversion into a money making operation.

    This massacre may mark a big step forward in breaking its hegemony. It certainly should.

  5. It is not true that the ANC was built on “Marxist authoritarian ideology” but on the ideology of Stalinism, which broke with Marxism by adopting the so-called theory of “Socialism in One Country”. Marxism, which is above all else a method of analysis, was kept alive by Leon Trotsky, who used to be the leader of our party, the Fourth International, World Party of Socialist Revolution”.

  6. We got to seethe root of miners massacre, mass unempployment, low wages, awful working and living condition, etc of SA working class, when ANC under the leadership of Nelson Mandela conspired to make a deal with the White minority and mulinational corporations of UK and US.Then,the Status Quo preserved. And, the leadership of ANC together with the leadership of Trade Unions benefited a share of the SA working class exploitation. Now wonder, why Nelson Mandela`s Statues garner Uk public places; and not surprising how come the first Cosato Leader Cyril Ramaphosa became billioner.Now, the qustion is: whether SA working class will raise the banner of abolition of wage-slavery system, and through revolutionary act transforming the capitalism and building a society of from each according to ability and for each according to needs.

  7. See DA weekly newsletter below – it is appalling to hear what the ANC is doing!!

    Over the past few weeks the ANC has been trying to create a narrative, which has been widely reported in the media, that “the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town do not deliver to the poor”.

    At the same time, rival factions within the ANC are trying to “outbid” each other, in posing as the “authentic” voices of the poor. As its contribution to the advancement of the poor, the ANC Youth League is trying to make various provinces “ungovernable”, which involves destroying as many public facilities as they can.. It would be ironic if it were not so tragic.

    Limpopo is a prime example. Last week the ANCYL mobilised school pupils, during school hours, to protest against the national government placing the bankrupt province under administration in terms of 100(1)(b) of the Constitution.

    In a statement the ANCYL said: “The presence of the administrators in the province has now reached a point of intolerance and [the ANCYL] therefore wishes to declare that Limpopo province will be ungovernable for as long as administrators are still in the province.”

    “We are determined to ensure that the people of Limpopo are not suffering because some people in the national Cabinet are threatened by the independent thinking of the Limpopo leadership, particularly towards [the] Mangaung conference of the ANC.”

    The ANC’s warring factions are far more concerned about who wins at Mangaung (and who will, therefore, dispense patronage, tenders and contracts) than they are about serving the interests of the poor.

    The “battle for Mangaung” has even reached remote parts of the Northern Cape, where ANC faction fights have kept 16,000 children out of schools for four months. Masquerading as “service delivery protests”, this infighting has ironically led to the disruption of services, the destruction of schools and libraries, the torching of homes and vehicles, and increased misery for the poor.

    In the Eastern Cape, the ANC faction backed by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) is holding education to ransom. This has resulted in a R3.1 billion budget shortfall due to overspending on salaries (while under-spending on school infrastructure and learning resources). Some schools are grossly overstaffed (in one case 22 teachers serve just 55 pupils) while other schools are seriously under-staffed and are forced to hire “contract teachers”, resulting in a ballooning provincial salary bill. SADTU is defending teachers who refuse to be “re-assigned” – and no-one in the ANC dares to take on SADTU in the year of Mangaung.

    As the ANC’s internal battles rage, 910 Eastern Cape public schools remain without water, 506 schools without sanitation and 678 schools without electricity. There was also a shortage of more than 12,000 classrooms and a severe lack of specialist facilities such as media centres and laboratories.

    Even the ANC’s well-run province, Gauteng, is facing meltdown in key areas, such as the health department which has accumulated an unauthorised expenditure bill of approximately R4.7 billion between 2005/2006 and 2010/2011.

    The high number of staff vacancies at hospitals and clinics and the shortage of critical medical equipment and medicine are due to the provincial department’s inability to pay suppliers of goods and services. It has even led to some National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) labs – the sole service provider contracted to deliver laboratory diagnostic tests, screening for chronic diseases including HIV and cervical cancer, and services for all public healthcare facilities – closing down for periods of time.

    The above examples illustrate the irony of the ANC’s claims that the Western Cape Government doesn’t care about the poor.

    The opposite is true. Our provincial plan and budget focus primarily on expanding opportunities to impoverished citizens and establishing the conditions for economic growth and job creation, the only sustainable pathway out of poverty.

    An analysis of the four biggest departmental budgets in the Western Cape Government (which collectively account for an expenditure of R32.174-billion, which is 80% of the provincial budget) reflects the extent of redistribution to the poor.

    The breakdown is as follows:
    Health directs R11.419 billion of its budget towards the poor, which is 78% of its total;
    Education spends R10.1 billion which is 71%;
    Human Settlements spends R 1.725 billion which is 90%;
    Social Development spends R 1.224 billion which is 87%.
    Some of the interventions introduced by these departments include:
    Health: 80% of patients receiving treatment at Western Cape public hospitals receive free services or pay a nominal fee as they fall into an income bracket below R36 000 (single persons) or R50 000 (family units).
    Education: 80.2% (R610 million) allocated for textbooks, stationery, learner transport and feeding schemes goes to the poorest 60% of learners.
    R516.6 million is allocated to 673 “no fee” schools in the province. The DA government has significantly increased the number of “no fee” schools compared to the ANC administration.
    The Western Cape has also “top sliced” the number of teacher posts at the “least poor” public schools, in order to redistribute an additional R500 million more for teaching posts to the poorest schools.
    Human Settlements: The provincial department is currently running 12 different housing projects in the Cape metro area alone. Approximately 9,600 sites will be serviced and 15,000 housing units will be built across the province.
    Social Development: The department spends R406 million on subsidies for early childhood development (ECD) and child protection in poor communities.
    The Province funds 1,002 ECD centres across the province, 70 after school centres and 36 children homes.
    It also funds 126 old age homes and 226 service centres for older persons.
    There are also 31 homes for disabled people.
    Some outcomes of our spending include the highest TB cure rate in the country (78.7%) and the reduction of mother-to-child HIV transmission from 17.6% in 2003 to 1.9% in 2011. We also halved the number of infant deaths due to diarrhoea between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.

    When it comes to education, the poorest schools in the province improved their pass rate from 57% in 2010 to 70% in the 2011 NSC examinations. The number of underperforming schools also decreased from 78 in 2010 to 30 in 2011. In Khayelitsha the average pass rate increased by 13.5% and the number of learners passing has increased by 24.9% since 2009.

    The ANCYL has accused me of “lying” about the extent of redistribution in the Western Cape. They say if it were true, informal settlements would have been eradicated. This is another indication of their ignorance. At a conservative estimate it would cost R40 billion to allocate a basic housing subsidy to every family on the provincial waiting list – more than the ENTIRE provincial budget – (and this does not include the high cost of land in the Western Cape).

    We could only achieve this if we scrapped every other budget in the province, closed all schools, hospitals and clinics, as well as facilities for the aged, destitute and disabled, all libraries and museums, allowed all roads and infrastructure to collapse, abandoned our support for rural development projects, and much more. This would certainly add momentum to the ANCYL’s “ungovernability” campaign.

    If the ANCYL were serious about releasing more money for human settlements, they could assist us by promoting safe sex, the moderate use of alcohol, zero tolerance for drugs, smoking and violence and the promotion of healthy eating habits and exercise. Such changes in lifestyle choices would save billions on the Health budget, where over 50% is spent on preventable conditions. But the ANCYL would rather destroy infrastructure in the name of the poor.

    Both the City and the Province recognise the fact that many people are currently living in dire circumstances. We also believe, on the basis of international experience, that our limited budgets are spent on policies and programmes that best equip people to take the pathway out of poverty within one generation.

    The narrative the ANC is so desperately trying to spread merely exposes its true agenda.

    Sincerely yours

    Helen Zille”

  8. It is good for us to be truely critically, but this falls on deaf ears and people are blinded by seeing the facts. Let us that feel so strongly form an independent forum and do something about it getting people to join hands and fight against the wrongs.

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