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ANALYSIS | ‘Outraged and embarrassed’: Could this be the ANC’s most dishonest statement ever?

In a statement on Tuesday Ace Magashule said the ANC would “deal decisively with corruption and restore the integrity and values” of the party. Who is he kidding? It ain’t gonna happen, says Pieter du Toit.

The ANC’s national executive committee has issued a couple of titillating statements over the last years of its corrosive existence.

From giving its unflinching support to its then-leader Jacob Zuma in the midst of the state capture era, to rejecting reports about the Guptas’ influence on the party, the ANC has perfected the art of speaking before thinking.

It has routinely ignored clear evidence of criminality and corruption, dismissed detailed reports of malfeasance and fraud and spun rich stories of integrity and honesty.

One of the best, and clearest, examples of this was the breathless statement issued by the party’s then-spokesperson Zizi Kodwa on 13 March 2016, outright rejecting reporting in the Sunday Times showing how the Guptas “shopped for a finance minister”.

This was nothing more than “gossip mongering being masqueraded as news”, Kodwa said, before adding that there was no evidence that the Guptas exerted any untoward influence on the governing party.

“In the paper’s over-zealousness to portray the leadership of the ANC in general… as collaborators to fit the fictitious narrative of a Gupta-controlled country, the Sunday Times… presents as fact allegations, suppositions and rumours…” Kodwa frothed.

Of course, Kodwa was talking utter tosh. The ANC was by then a mere tool in the hands of the Guptas as they sought to repurpose the state in order to increase the production of their extraction operation. And most in the ANC were all too happy to go along with it, because many cadres were given access to the expansive patronage network.

Unbelievable statements

Tuesday’s statement by the ANC’s most important decision-making body, its national executive committee, must surely rank very high in the pantheon of the party’s most unbelievable statements.

Issued in the name of Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, whose children also scored in the unfolding Covid-19 procurement tender frenzy, the ANC leadership claims to be “outraged and deeply embarrassed” by those who sought to unlawfully benefit from the suffering caused by the coronavirus.

And further stated that it wanted to “draw a line”.

The ANC, Magashule insists, “cause us collectively to dip our heads in shame and to humble ourselves before the people”.

All forms of corruption and wrong-doing must be condemned, Magashule pontificates, adding, “We will comprehensively fight corruption, combining both prevention and punishment. Those who loot public resources must face the might of the law.”

Whomever wrote the statement has so obviously wasted his or her time, because the gulf between reality and the fantasy world described in the statement is so vast, no one – even Magashule – will believe it.

The ANC is neither outraged nor embarrassed by the revelations. No one in the party and its leadership is ashamed or has “humbled” themselves before the nation, whatever that may mean. And the party has done nothing except conduct academic tick-box exercises to “comprehensively fight corruption”.

But how can the party be anything but dishonest and disingenuous about battling corruption when Magashule is its most senior full-time leader? He has left a trail of destruction in his wake in the Free State, and his name again cropped up at the state capture commission on Tuesday in connection with a dodgy multimillion-rand tender. He was at the head of a sprawling network of patronage in the badly damaged and mismanaged province, yet, he has never been called to account.

Deal decisively…

In his statement Magashule says the ANC will “deal decisively with corruption and restore the integrity and values of the ANC”.

How are they going to do it?

The leadership will in one month prepare a list of problematic members, along with recommendations; the provincial leadership will report about steps taken to prevent corruption; the disciplinary committee’s powers will be strengthened; the code of ethics will be evaluated and the leadership “are to provide an in-depth analysis of the nature and causes of the current manifestations of corruption…”

Nothing will happen, of course, because in more than a decade, nothing has happened.

And from News24’s reporting it is clear that there was enormous resistance to any form of “decisive” action being taken, with the Magashule faction rejecting any notion that family members of senior leaders or government officials must be barred from doing business with the state.

“Why must the Magashule children be prevented from scoring state tenders?” one NEC member said.

Corruption is now part of the institutional nature and culture of the ANC. The statement on Tuesday will sink without trace. And Magashule – and others – will continue on their way.

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