Guest Column

Restoring accountability starts within the ANC

2018-11-22 06:02
The top 6 leadership of the ANC celebrate their election at Nasrec in December 2017.

The top 6 leadership of the ANC celebrate their election at Nasrec in December 2017.

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In his quest to restore the ANC to its glorious past, Ramaphosa needs to wield the axe, chuck out the rubbish and enforce accountability amongst his cadres, writes Plantina Mokone.

Following testimonies given at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, the one question that South Africans need to ask themselves in the run-up to the 2019 general elections in May 2019, is, how different will the ANC of President Cyril Ramaphosa be from the ANC of former president Jacob Zuma?

On the surface it is easy to assume that Ramaphosa’s presidential tenure will bring significant governance changes characterised by low tolerance for corruption, a streamlined public service and prudent use of public resources. Many assume that his tenure will result in significant improvement to their material conditions – coincidentally many felt the same way when Zuma took over from Thabo Mbeki. 

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However, South Africans must tread cautiously. In our haste to bestow a larger mandate on Ramaphosa, we must not forget that the common thread that links him to Zuma is the ANC. 

Since his election at Nasrec as ANC president we have heard a lot of talk about the renewal of the party without a corresponding change in the institutional culture of the organisation. The same people who enabled Zuma’s rampage remain firmly ensconced in positions of leadership. Ace Magashule is responsible for the organisation’s institutional integrity, to name but one example.

In essence, we have old wine in new bottles. 

Even more troubling is the quality of membership of this once proud organisation. It is a painful sight to realise that those regarded as the future leadership of the organisation are found wanting in almost every material respect. Black professionals largely stay away from being actively involved in party political processes because of the extent to which policy discussions have become diminished in favour of conversations about deployment. 

What started out as a mechanism to ensure that the best qualified people occupied the most critical positions in the state quickly degenerated into considerations of self-interest and whose hand was on the public purse. Though at its most embarrassing under Zuma, this trend started under Nelson Mandela’s government. If you are in doubt about this, just consider the controversial arms deal. 

Currently the ANC’s list process is unfolding. Many are lobbying for their preferred candidates to be deployed to Parliament and provincial legislatures. Not enough is being done to interrogate the value that those nominated will bring to the national project. 

The sad truth is that state capture has existed in South Africa in some form or the other since before the ANC came into power in 1994. Rather than repudiating this corrosive practice the ANC simply embraced it with the result that the party’s fundamental character has been basterdised beyond recognition.

In his quest to restore the ANC to its glorious past, Ramaphosa needs to wield the axe, chuck out the rubbish and enforce accountability amongst his cadres. Equally, he must lead South Africans in conversation about our political system and its propensity to tolerate some or other form of state capture depending on who is perpetrating it. 

Whatever our disposition towards the likes of Black First Land First (BLF), we ought to seriously consider their argument about state capture as perpetrated by dominant players in the South African economy. We ought to ask ourselves the extent to which this form of capture will hobble any attempts to create a transparent, accountable and progressive government.  

Until such a time that this is dealt with, the ANC will continue its inexorable slide into insignificance. South Africans will continue praying for a messiah to save them. 

- Plantina Tsholofelo Mokone reports on South Africa's political and economic policy and regulatory affairs for Frontline Africa.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    anc  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  politics
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