Corruption thrived under the ANC’s watch, former Tshwane mayor Kgosientso “Sputla” Ramokgopa has admitted.
Ramokgopa was speaking in Auckland Park on Tuesday night at “Battle Ground Gauteng”, a political debate organised by City Press and Rapport.
Other political parties – including members of the DA, IFP, Freedom Front Plus and EFF – also agreed that the major issue affecting Gauteng and by extension the entire country was the “institutionalised nature of corruption which had festered for far too long and was affecting numerous aspects of the country’s institutions which were meant to combat it”.
For his part, Ramokgopa said it would be silly to deny the fact.
“Well it will be the height of folly to deny that corruption did thrive under our watch [as the ANC] so that is the first admission. Familiarity with the facts is important to enter into a constructive conversation so I am not in denying mode, that’s the first part,” he said.
He added that the reason the ANC made a host of leadership changes at its Nasrec conference in December 2017 was because the party “had come to the realisation that it was taking a trajectory that was anti-everything the ANC originally stood for”.
“It was an admission on the part of the ANC that we had wronged our people – the poor in particular – through our conduct and the manner in which the state had conducted itself that in fact they had stolen from the people which was an antithesis of what the ANC is about. It was a misarticulation of the kind of future that we wanted to construct so the best thing to do was that we started to self correct,” said Ramokgopa.
The former Tshwane mayor added that the ANC’s seriousness towards the work of “self-correcting” was evidenced in the party instituting the Zondo commission of inquiry.
“There is no party that is not serious about transforming itself that knowingly institutes a commission that exposes its own members’ wrongdoing leading up to an election. Because we are serious about showing South Africans that we are working towards serious change, we instituted the commission on the eve of the elections,” said Ramokgopa.
The party also appointed a president who was dealing decisively with corruption, he added.
The EFF’s Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego interjected saying it was disingenuous for the ruling party to pride itself for solutions to problems that they themselves formulated.
“You are beyond self correction, you are incorrigible as a political party. I will give you two small examples for why I am saying so,” said Mashego.
She went on to detail how she opened a case of fraud and corruption against [Gauteng Premier] David Makhura and another ANC member “for the mess that they created at E-government which was illegally established in 2013. The case is with the Hawks and we have compelling evidence that they looted a lot of money through this program, yet nothing has been done,” she said.
Mashego added that even President Cyril Ramaphosa – who Ramokgopa had deemed “as the shining light of the party” – was also involved in untoward dealings.
“Cyril Ramaphosa himself is guilty of illicit financial misconduct and theft through his Shanduka shares at Lonmin. If you want evidence of that go and check one of the professors at Wits who was one of the people studying what had happened with Lonmin and what led to the 34 miners being shot down and killed in Marikana.”
The DA’s Gauteng premier candidate, Solly Msimanga, echoed Mashego’s sentiments saying under the leadership of the ANC the province had actually regressed.
He said the ANC “could not then be trusted to turn around the fortunes of the province which it has run to the ground”.
Msimanga said should the DA govern the province, the party would ensure that all those who had been implicated in wrongdoing – particularly that which pertains to corruption – would face the long arm of law and not be promoted as was the current norm under the ANC.
The political parties also debated their stances on issues such as land expropriation, illegal immigrants and job creation.