Zondo, Nugent, Mokgoro, PIC… and why the ANC believes it to be immune

2019-02-01 06:00
African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Jacob Zuma toast during the African National Congress' (ANC) 107th anniversary celebrations at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on January 12, 2019. - The new head of the ruling ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa,pledged in tackling unemployment, poverty and inequality. South Africans go to the polls in May 2019. (Photo by Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP)

African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Jacob Zuma toast during the African National Congress' (ANC) 107th anniversary celebrations at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on January 12, 2019. - The new head of the ruling ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa,pledged in tackling unemployment, poverty and inequality. South Africans go to the polls in May 2019. (Photo by Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP)

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At one stage on Wednesday television news channel eNCA had a four-way split screen.

The channel’s executive producer had a choice of three inquiries and a court case to choose from: the state capture commission, the inquiry into Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, the commission into the Public Investment Corporation and the high court application by ‘premier league’ heavy Supra Mahumapelo to nullify the ANC’s Nasrec conference.

And a couple of weeks ago the Nugent commission into the affairs of the South African Revenue Service concluded, which found that what was once the jewel in the crown of state had been gutted by Tom Moyane, a former prisons boss and friend of Zuma. And in Parliament the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises started chipping away at the feeding trough state-owned enterprises became under Zuma’s corrupted leadership. Eskom, Transnet, the SAA, the SABC, Denel – balance sheets all massacred.

raymond zondo, state capture

These commissions, inquiries and investigations have laid bare the depravity and bankruptcy of Zuma’s nine years as head of state. Individually, and collectively, they represent serious crises of leadership, corruption, gangsterism and thievery.

The Zondo commission has, since last year, heard damning testimony implicating not only Zuma, but most of the governing ANC’s entire leadership. They have been bought with frozen chicken, handbags, cash payments, alarm systems and cars. They have been active participants in indulging Zuma’s worst excesses, defending and protecting him and accusing those exposing corruption of being part of some nefarious campaign by Western imperialist forces to effect change in a sovereign African country.

The Zondo commission however is a daily, embarrassing, transparent and very public indictment of the party of liberation’s descent in cronyism, denialism and criminality.

The Mokgoro inquiry into the fitness to hold office of Jiba and Mrwebi, both deputy national directors of public prosecution, confirms reports and allegations of the last nine years how the National Prosecuting Authority was repurposed to protect and defend sectional interests, mostly that of Zuma and those connected with him. The Zondo commission heard how Myeni showed the Bosasa corruptors confidential documents to help them plan their escape. And the Mokgoro inquiry heard how the practice to prosecute those who were fighting corruption (Anwa Dramat, Johan Booysen, Robert McBride, Shadrack Sibiya, Glynnis Breytenbach) became entrenched under Jiba and her boss, Shaun Abrahams.

The ANC has been at pains to try and separate party and state – perhaps for the first time in its history, given the aims of the National Democratic Revolution and its policy of cadre deployment – in order to create the impression that the legions of ANC leaders and officials who are implicated in state capture and grand corruption somehow acted on their own.

The party’s spin doctors, who in the past breathlessly decried media reports of the Guptas’ influence on Zuma and the ANC as lies and dastardly and dishonest attempts to smear the party, is now tip-toeing around journalists at the Zondo commission, politely explaining that the party is shocked about the revelations and how action must surely be taken. But also, South Africans must – please! – understand that these commissions have no bearing on the ANC and that it does not mean the ANC is corrupt. These individuals must be held accountable because they acted on their own. It isn’t the party that’s in the wrong!

And not to be left out, Zuma himself this week took umbrage at criticism by President Cyril Ramaphosa that his term of office was ‘nine wasted years’. They were actually quite successful, he argued. And then he followed that up with an interview tying him to the ANC, saying if you criticise him, you criticise the ANC.

Well, there you have it. The party’s former leader, one of its major campaigners ahead of the election and fast becoming a big player on social media, dragging it back into the morass of ANC government corruption and lying and thieving being laid bare in the myriad of inquiries running concurrently.

In August 2016 the ANC was punished during the municipal election. It lost control of three major metros and its popular support (local government elections aren’t really a good indicator compared to general elections, but still) dropped to under 55%. Zuma was at the zenith (nadir?) of his piracy and the electorate had seemingly stomached enough.

But a little more than two years hence and some polls are indicating a return to form for the party of Mandela, Sisulu and Tambo. Polling commissioned by the Institute for Race Relations, as Gareth van Onselen pointed out on Thursday, shows an uptick for the ANC and it seems it is largely driven by perceptions around Ramaphosa as cleaning up the mess left by Zuma (although there have been no arrests, no raids, no prosecutions and certainly no sentencing of state capture criminals).

But the ANC’s insurance policy against the sludge released by Zondo, Nugent, Mokgoro et al. will remain apartheid. The party, at every election since 1994, has been able to leverage its historical role as the leader of the resistance and liberation movement in order to not only survive at the polls, but thrive. It is gearing up to do the same come May.


Chronic underdevelopment, lack of services, poor education, a weak economic outlook with a hobbled entrepreneurial culture…all of it can be directly linked to this government’s maladministration. But it can also be linked to the ravages of our pre-1994 history, with the backlog so enormous that it will take generations to overcome.

Although it does not absolve the ANC and its government, it does provide a release-valve and diversion for a party that, according to the New York Times, has become ‘synonymous’ with corruption.

The ANC knows its biggest asset is its distant past and its biggest liability present day. With Ramaphosa saying the right things and the electorate seemingly less than enamoured with the opposition, it knows exactly what to do. Even with the PR disaster that Zondo et al. is supposed to be.

Read more on:    bosasa  |  gupta brothers  |  yvonne mokgoro  |  raymond zondo  |  cyrial ramaphosa  |  zuma  |  robert nugent  |  jacob  |  state capture

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