Lack of accountability a big danger
If it was not evident up to now, the past few weeks have shown that the ANC works in mysterious ways.During the election period, the ANC was caught in a debate about the degrees of shame and scandal some senior leaders brought to the party.On the campaign trail, the ANC was faced with tough questions about how it was dealing with corruption in its ranks. The truth of the matter is that it was not.Prominent leaders of the party linked to major corruption scandals had made it to the top end of the candidate list for parliament.Former president Jacob Zuma was a guest star on the campaign trail despite him being on trial for corruption and being deeply ensnared in state capture at the Zondo commission.When it became evident that the ANC was heading for a drop in support at the polls, and was in danger of losing its majority, it scrambled to make amends.The ANC said the candidate list was subject to further vetting by its integrity commission so the bad apples could still be tossed out.After the elections, the integrity commission’s preliminary report suddenly became a major issue as it identified 23 senior leaders who ought to decline public office due to clouds over their heads.Because the integrity commission has no real powers, its report was destined for the ANC national executive committee and probably would have died there.Then deputy president David Mabuza changed the game.He decided to subject himself to the vetting process and requested that his swearing in as an MP be postponed so he could address the commission.Mabuza was quite aware that the integrity commission could do nothing to prevent him from ascending to the second-highest position in government.However, because he had subjected himself to the commission, others named in the report had to follow suit.The commission has no investigative powers, neither does it have the capacity to interrogate people. It is merely a group of party elders who ask those appearing before them to explain why there are negative reports and bad perceptions about them.The commission therefore has no ability to clear anyone’s name.It can merely advise ANC members to withdraw from or decline public positions as they could bring further damage to the party.It is not clear how much the integrity commission’s report featured in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decisionmaking about the composition of the national executive.Former ministers Malusi Gigaba and Nomvula Mokonyane decided not to be sworn in as MPs, probably realising that they stood no chance of returning to cabinet.Some people listed by the commission, such as Gwede Mantashe, Zizi Kodwa, David Mahlobo and Thabang Makwetla, were appointed as ministers and deputy ministers.Others such as Bathabile Dlamini, Kebby Maphatsoe, Siyabonga Cwele and Bongani Bongo were excluded from Ramaphosa’s team.There is now a backlash against the integrity commission with some people in the ANC campaigning for it to be disbanded and accusing the elders of playing into factional politics.People have relied on the dysfunction in the criminal justice system to continue their political careers untroubled, trumpeting the refrain “innocent until proven guilty” when their misdemeanours are pointed out.Many of the ANC’s top leaders are also compromised by corruption and therefore cannot prescribe to others to withdraw from public positions. But even then it comes down to degrees of wrongdoing as some people argue that everyone in the ANC is tainted.If the ANC functioned effectively, people should be marched before a disciplinary committee for acts of misconduct listed in the ANC constitution instead of being nudged by the integrity commission.Among the acts of misconduct are:● Engaging in any unethical or immoral conduct which detracts from the character, values and integrity of the ANC.● Abuse of elected or employed office in the organisation or in the state to obtain any direct or indirect undue advantage or enrichment.● Soliciting or accepting any bribe for performing or not performing any task pertaining to or in connection with the ANC.Although so many ANC leaders have been implicated in state capture, the party has held nobody to account.And to show that the party has complete disregard for its own disciplinary code, here is another fun fact: the ANC has gone almost nine months without a chair of its national disciplinary committee.It has not appointed anyone to replace Edna Molewa, who died in September 2018.A further mockery is that Mokonyane is the chair of the national disciplinary committee of appeal.After its 54th national conference at Nasrec, the ANC claimed to be on a path of renewal and cleaning up its ranks.How could it seriously undertake such a process when it is unable to discipline anyone and its only mechanism to deal with compromised people is a placid group of elders with no powers?Both within the ANC and through the criminal justice system, there are no deterrents or punishment for those who use their positions for evil intent.The lack of accountability therefore means that for the new cohort of public office bearers, corruption, abuse of power and state capture remains an ever-present danger.