‘Toothless’ integrity commission can't clean the ANC

The top six of the ANC (from left), Jessie Duarte, Ace Magashule, Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa, DD Mabuza and Paul Mashatile Picture: Felix Dlangamandla
The top six of the ANC (from left), Jessie Duarte, Ace Magashule, Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa, DD Mabuza and Paul Mashatile Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

The integrity commission was set up in 2012 after the Mangaung national conference to clean up the tarnished image of the party and to ensure that ANC leaders behave according to 2001 policy document Through the Eye of the Needle.

The commission includes some of South Africa’s most revered leaders, among them former Robben Island prisoner George Mashamba, Rivonia Trialist and Robben Island veteran of more than 20 years Andrew Mlangeni, leader of the 1956 women’s march Sophia Williams de Bruyn, as well as former Umkhonto weSizwe prisoner under the 1967 Terrorism Act and special adviser to the defence minister Sue Rabkin.

The commission was established after ANC members acknowledged that most of the party’s members in government were behaving shabbily, immorally and, in some cases, criminally.

Through the Eye of the Needle was adopted but never implemented, like many other ANC policies. There was no will to implement it at Luthuli House and that was that.

Read: ANC in-fighting a figment of the media’s imagination – Magashule

No ANC official has ever been removed from office for trampling on the policy document because national leaders are trampling on policy themselves. Supposed to be a guide, a persuasive tool, in reality Through the Eye of the Needle is not worth the paper it is written on.

While the integrity commission is supposed to ensure that ANC leaders are on the straight and narrow, it can only recommend its decisions and proposals to the national executive committee (NEC), which decides whether to implement them or not.

The value and integrity of the commission’s decisions depend on the integrity and quality of the NEC.

When the ANC was captured by the Guptas and Watsons, there was nothing the commission could do about it.

Clearly state corruption cannot be solved by the integrity commission, which is a mere advisory body.

If there was a competent and honest government, and a competent police investigation unit, then we could trust the administration to fathom the source of the problems, make arrests and ensure that those implicated were prosecuted.

As it is, the commission has no authority or the mandate to remove anyone behaving badly.

As revealed at the state capture inquiry, the NEC elected in December 2017 remains partially captured by Gupta and Watson deployees.

This is the same NEC that is supposed to preside over the commission’s recommendations. How on earth can anyone expect substantial results from such an NEC?

The current NEC is a product of a conference format where votes were lost and conveniently misplaced by the electoral commission, which, in turn, was the result of the conference format being determined by branch delegates who are infamous for being frequently selected through meddling and fraudulent dealings by powerful political figures.

The branch delegate conference format is convened on the basis of one delegate for every 50 members to represent them at national conference.

The delegates constitute 2% of ANC members and they go on to elect the president, secretary-general, treasurer-general and other national leaders on behalf of the 98% of members who are left out in the cold.

The 2% compiles the candidate list of members of National Assembly and provincial legislatures, under the stewardship of the secretary-general.

Effectively, this compromised and untrustworthy 2% runs and administers the country with a budget of R13 trillion, under the eagle eye of Luthuli House. These people will not listen to or take instruction from the integrity commission.

After this year’s parliamentary candidate list was compiled, it was supposed to be taken to the commission before being submitted to the Electoral Commission of SA.

However, secretary-general Ace Magashule submitted the candidate list before it was screened by the commission. Even if he had submitted it to the commission, it would not have made any difference.

It was all just a formality because the commission does not have any power as former president Jacob Zuma demonstrated by defying its recommendations that he should resign.

As matters stand, the commission is an ineffective advisory structure. It cannot clean the ANC, it has neither the capacity nor the mandate to do so.

ANC government leaders have been tested to the limit. The party’s problems remain glaring in the face of the public.

It will be an enormous task for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reform the dysfunctional system.

The ANC’s problems can only be solved by reforming its internal electoral laws to bring a new system of “one member-one vote” for electing leaders.

In that way, 100% of members will elect party leaders, not the 2%.

Only after such a change of the internal electoral laws will it be possible for the commission to be effective and respected accordingly.

For now, the integrity commission remains a toothless means of pacifying ANC members and the public.

Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC


How must the ANC policy change to empower the integrity commission to fulfil its mandate?

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