The ANC integrity committee went to ground this week after its reports which were leaked came under fire during the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend.
The integrity committee, made up of party elders who no longer have political ambitions, was set up at the ANC’s 2012 elective conference and is meant to serve as the party’s conscience.
City Press heard that the ANC’s communications department has been flooded with media queries over the past few days, but no response was forthcoming as head of the commission, George Mashamba, who is also the spokesperson, could not be reached.
The leaked reports revealed that the ANC’s ethics body had recommended that deputy finance minister David Masondo step down from his government post as well as his other position as the principal of the ANC political school.
“I think Mashamba is under pressure because of the manner they handled Masondo’s case. There are a lot of processes that were not followed internally. We found ourselves in a situation where a statement is in the public and we are not aware of it,” said a source in Luthuli House.
Another bombshell contained in the reports was the committee’s submission that it never cleared Deputy President David Mabuza of the allegations of wrongdoing against him.
After the general elections last year, Mabuza had declined to be sworn into Parliament until any doubt over his suitability to serve as a public representative of the ANC was addressed by the party’s ethics body.
City Press reported in April last year that Mabuza and ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe were among the 22 names of ANC parliamentary candidates that had been flagged as problematic by the integrity committee after it analysed the party’s election list.
At the time there were three categories of names contained in the list that the committee had to vet, including: those who had criminal investigations against them; those who have been mentioned in commissions; and those accused of corruption by individuals.
Mabuza featured at number 22 in the latter group.
People with intimate knowledge of the case said the list actually had 23 names divided according to categories, and Mabuza was initially not part of it.
Later Mabuza was added, “through shenanigans”, among the last two on the list who were not even the focal point of the commission.
“They came up because their names were in the media, and not because there is a specific objection to their names.”
Questions sent to Mashamba on Tuesday had not been answered, although at one point he was active on his WhatsApp account and read the messages.
The integrity committee wrote to Masondo asking that he “voluntarily step aside” from his responsibilities in government and the party.
The recommendation followed an allegation that Masondo abused his position by getting the Hawks to arrest a woman he had had a brief relationship with.
The woman alleged that Masondo had forced her to have an abortion, while Masondo maintains that she is extorting him, hence the criminal complaint he laid with the Hawks.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi dismissed the allegations of abuse of power and told City Press that the Hawks were “committed to operate within the parameters of the law”.
“In case the complainant was of the view that we abused our powers and prejudiced her, she had the right to report to the retired directorate of priority crimes investigation judge in terms of the Police Act,” Mulaudzi said.
He said the Hawks would “continue to confront its investigative functions without fear or favour – irrespective of the stature of a person or persons in society”.
A person in government critical of the commission said: “The report is personal sentiment and does not state how the issues were processed and what are the standing procedures to determine the integrity or non-integrity of a member. Notwithstanding the merits of the case, all the report shows is that it is largely based on sentiments.”
An ANC insider said “the report enjoyed the status of being precedent setting, which meant that when they get replaced by other people tomorrow, the decisions that are made must be consistent”.
“So you need a report that can stand on its own strength, which details what happened, what factors were considered and how that informed the conclusion. You might then disagree with the finding, but when you read the logic you must see how they rationally arrived at the conclusion they made.”
Questions over the commission’s comments on Mabuza
City Press learnt from those close to Mabuza that on Tuesday, Nomfundo Sambo, who masqueraded as Mabuza’s niece, Thandeka Mabuza, pleaded guilty of fraud at a court in Nelspruit. This included the case in which she had written a sworn statement, published in media reports, alleging that Mabuza was plotting to kill nature conservationist Fred Daniel.
At the time when the integrity commmittee called Mabuza in for a hearing, their biggest gripe was allegations against him as widely reported in the media – which apparently weakened their case because there was no direct evidence to back up the claims and Mabuza was yet to face any criminal charges.
However, the submission by the committee that it had been pressured to hear Mabuza and Mantashe’s cases raised eyebrows, amid perceptions that it was the duo who were in a rush.
The commission claimed that it was “pressurised” to interview Mabuza and Mantashe the night before the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa, “despite the fact that a schedule for interviews had already been finalised”.
During the rushed meeting, the commission said, there was no discussion with Mabuza, and after his presentation the meeting ended. “On the next morning after the inauguration, front page newspaper headlines said the deputy president had been cleared by the integrity committee.”
In response, the committee said it had “issued a statement for the attention of the NEC to the effect that the committee had not cleared anyone”. “The commission stated very clearly that it would not be intimidated or manipulated in this manner. The statement was not acknowledged or tabled,” the report read.
But documents that City Press had seen showed that Mabuza received a letter that he was “urgently” required to appear before the commission.
In a letter dated Thursday, May 22 2019, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule wrote: “You are hereby requested, as a matter of urgency to make yourself available to meet with the integrity commission”.
Ahead of Magashule’s communication, the commission had stated that it would only be available to sit with all the implicated candidates between Sunday and Tuesday of that week.
However, it emerged that the commission was already scheduled to sit on that Friday and Saturday, thus both Mantashe and Mabuza were invited to present themselves.
Following Magashule’s letter, Mabuza wrote to Mashamba to confirm his availability to sit down with the commission on Friday, May 23 2019.
He also explained that his decision not to be sworn in was based on allegations circulating in the media that he was flagged by the commission.
“I did this, conscious of the fact that as leaders we should stand by and support the call to renew the ANC and its call for ethical leadership, consistent with the 2015 national general council resolutions and other existing and new measures implemented by the NEC,” wrote Mabuza.
Further to this, he wrote: “I take the mandate given to the ANC in the recent elections with humility and seriousness. It is out of respect of the ANC, its membership and the electorate that as deputy president of the ANC, I have decided to call on you, as the integrity commission, to finalise your processes so that I can be afforded an opportunity to answer to whatever allegations there may be against my name.”
“As we would all know, as the ANC, we have consistently averred that no person is bigger than the organisation and that none of us are entitled to any position of leadership of the organisation and or the state, but that we do so at the behest of those who elect us to serve,” he wrote.
He further “implored” the commission to ensure that members of the ANC who may from time to time find themselves accused of whatever misdemeanour, “not to be adjudged unless and until they are formally made aware of the accusations levelled against them and are afforded an opportunity to present their case fully in response to such allegations, in line with the dictates of natural justice”.
Mabuza noted that he was specifically flagged on the basis that he was one of the “comrades alleged of corruption by individuals”, adding that “it would be helpful if you were to furnish me with the details of such allegations as currently available to you”.
A person close to Mabuza also said the commission was being mischievous in its attempt to paint Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu “as the only legitimate custodian of the ANC’s integrity principles”.
“The whole report is about Masondo, but then it jumps and goes to Mabuza and Mantashe,” said the person, adding that there was ample time before Mabuza was sworn in for the commission to object.