'New dawn' but the rogues are still more popular than clean Pravin

Pravin Gordhan. Foto: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Masi Losi
Pravin Gordhan. Foto: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Masi Losi

What does it say about the ANC – its branches, provincial structures and national leadership – when its prime and most vocal opposer of state capture only made it onto the party list at position 73, asks Adriaan Basson.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's name appears in position 73 on the governing ANC's candidate list for the national election.

This means Gordhan is likely to return as a Member of Parliament after the May 8 national and provincial elections. The ANC won 249 seats after the last election and the party is expected to be returned as the majority party in May.

Gordhan is widely regarded as the ANC's anti-corruption voice and face. As former finance minister, he was sacked by then president Jacob Zuma for opposing the state capture project in National Treasury.

READ: Melanie Verwoerd - My f*k, ANC!

Despite the EFF's best (or worst) attempts, Gordhan is regarded as one of the cleanest politicians in South Africa, particularly in the ANC.

At an historic Eskom press briefing on Tuesday, Gordhan was the face of government, trying to appease South Africans, already under economic pressure, that everything will be okay despite Eskom's imminent meltdown.

Putting on a brave face – even cracking a few awkward jokes – Gordhan was the chosen one that had to convince the populace that the "new" ANC government of President Cyril Ramaphosa has got this crisis under control.

In his stern address, Gordhan often referred to the "period of state capture" that "we" are cleaning up. He referenced the appointment of advocate Shamila Batohi as the new national director of public prosecutions and the daily exposure of state capture secrets in front of the Zondo commission.

In probably the most important government announcement before the election, Gordhan effectively asked the nation to trust him and his comrades in the "new" ANC to steer the ship that is South Africa out of this crisis.

But who exactly are these comrades that will supposedly fix South Africa?

Much has been written about the rogues on the ANC's candidates list and nothing illustrates the ANC's crisis of legitimacy starker than Gordhan's own position on the list.

What does it say about the ANC as an organisation – the branches, the provincial structures and the national leadership – when the party's prime and most vocal opposer of state capture only made it onto the list at position 73?

Let's look at some of the 72 people who were found by the ANC as a party to be more worthy candidates than Gordhan.

At position number 23 is Malusi Gigaba, the former minister of public enterprises under whose tenure Eskom was stripped of its cash and ability to provide electricity to South Africa. The plunder of Eskom, Transnet and Denel took place on Gigaba's watch and, if Gordhan is to be believed, consequences will follow suit.

ALSO READ: Ralph Mathekga - No way to take Ramaphosa's anti-corruption talk seriously with Mokonyane, Gigaba, Dlamini on ANC's list

But it doesn't seem this punishment will be meted out by the ANC. Gigaba's popularity in the party was seemingly not affected by his intimate involvement in the Zupta-sponsored state capture or the lies he told under oath in the Fireblade case.

It will be very hard for Ramaphosa to leave Gigaba, the ANC's 23rd most popular politician, out of his new Cabinet after the May 8 elections.

The same applies to Gwede Mantashe (position 3), Fikile Mbalula (6), Zweli Mkhize (8), Bheki Cele (9), Nomvula Mokonyane (10), Bathabile Dlamini (14), Nathi Mthethwa (16), David Mahlobo (28) and Zizi Kodwa (31) – all senior ANC politicians against whom allegations of some form of wrongdoing have been levelled.

Mantashe is implicated in the Bosasa scandal after receiving CCTV equipment from the corruption-accused company;

Mbalula received a paid-for holiday to Dubai from a sports supplier while he was sports minister; 

Mkhize has been implicated in a kickback-deal involving the Public Investment Corporation, which he denies; 

Cele acted unlawfully as police commissioner when he approved a building leasing deal in 2010, according to the public protector; 

Mokonyane was allegedly bribed by Bosasa and meddled in the appointment of contractors for the Giyani water project; 

Dlamini lied to the Constitutional Court about the social grants crisis; 

Mthethwa received a wall around his house paid from a crime intelligence "slush fund" when he was police minister; 

Mahlobo sanctioned the actions of an illegal special operations unit in the State Security Agency, a report has found, and 

Kodwa is accused of rape by a woman from a social circle that includes Bosasa's spokesperson. Kodwa denies raping the woman. 

These ANC politicians are all much more popular than Gordhan in the party and Ramaphosa will face a rebellion if he decides to cull everyone tainted by state capture or claims of impropriety from his new Cabinet.

Some of the other rogues on the ANC's list in higher positions than Gordhan are Cassel Mathale (36), former Limpopo premier and ally of Julius Malema who were intimately linked to the capture of tenders in that province; former state security minister Bongani Bongo (41), who allegedly attempted to bribe an advocate in Parliament, and disgraced former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo (58).

Despite his best efforts to convince the country (and voters) otherwise, the ANC's lists make a mockery of attempts by Gordhan to uncapture the state and clean out corruption.

Until his rogue comrades are arrested, charged and shunned by the ANC, Gordhan will have a hard time convincing the electorate that the "new dawn" is more than a clever PR strategy.

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