ANC snubs its integrity body

2014-10-05 15:01

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The ANC’s efforts to fight corruption in its own ranks are backfiring as its leaders question the motives of its own integrity commission.

Some have openly criticised the National ­Integrity Commission after it recommended that leaders with pending criminal cases be fired or step down from their positions before their court cases are concluded.

City Press has learnt the integrity commission has recommended that five senior leaders in East London’s Buffalo City Metro Municipality, including Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, should be axed.

The leaders were implicated in defrauding the municipality of R5.9?million that had been meant for memorial services for Nelson Mandela last December.

Three senior ANC sources told City Press the Mandela ­scandal had caused the party “irreversible damage”.

The Buffalo City leaders have been charged with fraud and money laundering, along with several businesspeople, and are currently out on bail.

Their trial is due to start early next year.

They were hauled before the integrity commission after they failed to heed the party’s calls to step down.

The municipality didn’t respond to requests for comment, but if the five cock a snook at the integrity commission they’ll be the latest in a series.

The party’s Northern Cape secretary, Zamani Saul, said this week the recommendation by the commission that Provincial Chairman and Finance MEC John Block step aside from both his roles “is a bit misplaced and is also susceptible to misinterpretation in that it seeks to pre-empt the outcome of the criminal trial”.

Saul said the commission should have deferred its report, pending the outcome of Block’s trial.

Block has been charged with fraud alongside two other Northern Cape ANC leaders, Yolanda Botha and Alvin Botes, who also appeared before the commission.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa this week told journalists that the integrity commission, established at its 2012 ­Mangaung conference, heralded a new approach to ­corruption-fighting within the party.

Kodwa said: “It is an important departure on how we used to deal with [corruption allegations]. Even if they are factually incorrect, we must engage with them because we cannot ­compromise the integrity of the ANC.”

He said the integrity commission was not a replacement for disciplinary committees, but “it was to deal with issues of integrity and the image of the ANC”.

Criticism from party members came after the commission submitted a report to the party’s national executive committee last month.

The NEC referred the report back to the commission for “more work”.

Kodwa said the report last month was not final. “It presented a preliminary report to the last NEC meeting and was asked to continue with its work and to present a final report for action to the national working committee.”

A source close to ANC MP and Youth League presidential candidate Pule Mabe told City Press that Mabe was not taking well to apparent efforts to get him to step out of the youth league race.

The source, who did not want to be named, said Mabe was made an MP even though he was facing charges. It was only now he wanted to run for youth league leader that the ­integrity commission was intervening.

Although the fight against corruption was a good one, the integrity committee could be used in a ­political way, said the source.

“Members of the ANC are normal men and women, and not immune to accusations.” He said it was up to “reputable institutions” – courts – to prove people’s innocence or guilt.

He also agreed with the ANC’s rule that anyone convicted of a crime should step down.

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