Lifestyle audits cause rumblings

2016-10-09 06:00
Gwede Mantashe

Gwede Mantashe

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ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says the party’s national executive committee (NEC) has adopted the idea of lifestyle audits in principle, but is yet to work out the details, as questions mount about its implementation.

The ANC’s sudden support for lifestyle audits on party leaders and senior public servants has been described as “ambush tactics” because the matter has not been discussed at the party’s national working committee, which sets the agenda for the NEC.

“People bring things that are not on the agenda. That is why there is confusion about what we are saying,” said a member of the NEC.

“It is war. That is why some of the things are ambushed, even when they were not in the report of the working committee. This creates imbalances in how we respond,” he said.

City Press was told the lifestyle audit item was only introduced on the NEC’s agenda last Sunday, and that it was agreed on in principle, but wasn’t thoroughly discussed.

Mantashe said the NEC was not a technical body with the capacity to decide on details of the proposed lifestyle audits.

“What we announce is principle. The principle has been adopted and it is the ANC that will work out how that will work.”

At least two provincial ANC leaders, also former officio members of the NEC, said they were waiting for Luthuli House to provide concrete details of how the resolution was going to be implemented.

At least two other senior ANC leaders said they had expected that a “credible” institution such as the SA Revenue Service would be petitioned to get involved.

However, a provincial ANC leader said private auditing firms had the capacity to conduct lifestyle audits.

She said it was unclear why the proposal was not declared an obligatory responsibility of ANC leaders at every level – starting with councillors who had assumed office recently.

Another NEC member supporting the proposal told City Press the move was necessary because the recent municipal elections had shown the ANC it could no longer dismiss perceptions that it was soft on dealing with the alleged corrupt activities of its leaders and deployees.

“Whenever someone is seen to be living beyond their means, that person can be subjected to it [the lifestyle audit].

"Critically, this is a model used in China to catch the rotten apples. The majority of the NEC was not opposed to it. There was no way to reject such a noble proposal. The upshot of the matter was that we must deal with corruption,” she said.

However, those opposed to the audit said the ANC was behaving as if it had lost the elections, when it had managed to clinch at least 53% of the national vote.

“It is a sign of panic,” said one NEC member.

“We behave as if we lost the elections, when we actually won. But we do not celebrate this. Instead, we are fighting among ourselves.”

One of the hot debates on day one of the three-day NEC meeting, which began last Friday, was the allegation of state capture.

This refers to the politically connected Gupta family, which has been accused of using its influence with President Jacob Zuma and other ANC ministers to promote its business interests.

Zuma’s backers proposed that the debate be broadened to include state capture by “white monopoly capital” since the onset of South Africa’s democracy in 1994, rather than focus only on the Guptas.

“Why make them compete? There was a view that the ANC was fumbling by not directly dealing with the issue,” said a leader who attended the meeting.

The NEC also discussed the controversial e-tolls on Gauteng highways, with a member reporting that the scheme would probably be scrapped.

“This thing has hit us badly and we have to deal with it. The issue is that they must find money to fund the debt,” he said, adding that the committee had concluded that e-tolls needed to be reviewed, but how to go about it was still to be decided.


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