Small crop of ANC councillors tainted the party during lockdown - Duarte

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  • ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte defended party councillors, claiming that less than 1% were accused of contravening lockdown regulations.
  • She said the party acted swiftly to remove councillors tainting the organisation. 
  • Covid-19 exposed the urgency of radical economic transformation, Duarte said.

jesse duarte
Jessie Duarte leads an ANC press conference shortly after the election results are announced. (Palesa Dlamini, City Press)

The ANC acted swiftly to remove a small group of its councillors implicated in allegations of lockdown regulation contraventions, ANC deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte said. 

The party's machinery has been busy fielding complaints and messages of concern from its branches and communities during the national lockdown.

Speaking to News24, Duarte detailed some of the work the organisation had undertaken to aid the government in its attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Some of the major concerns recorded by the party were centred around the distribution of water tanks, testing and screening, and food distribution, she said.  

"The main issue that we received many calls about, had been food distribution. Our structures reported very well with what took place with food distribution," Duarte said, adding that the party used an app to communicate with its constituents about matters related to each district and ward. 

Shortly after the government introduced interventions to help the poor during the extended lockdown, some local councillors - mainly in the ANC - were reported to have allegedly diverted aid to themselves and their supporters, and, in some instances, sold them on, City Press reported.

READ | Councillors accused of looting food parcels meant for the poor

Duarte identified two provinces - Limpopo and the Eastern Cape - as the main culprits but added that only 0.3% of ANC councillors had been accused of wrongdoing. 

In April in the Eastern Cape, the DA claimed the price of food parcels distributed by the SA Social Services Agency had been inflated by an estimated R16 million.

In another case, an investigation was launched into claims that mielie meal included in food parcels distributed in Butterworth were infested with maggots. The allegations surfaced in a video of maggot-infested mielie meal which was circulated. 

In Gauteng, City Press reported that ANC councillors were accused of distributing food parcels only to their constituencies in Tshwane and Emfuleni, excluding those most in need but who reside in wards controlled by the opposition.

In Limpopo, a ward councillor in the Collins Chabane municipality in Malamulele, Lazarus Baloyi, faces a police investigation after he was accused of selling proof of residence documents for R300 to community members.

Duarte said this was a small crop of ANC councillors who did not represent the majority of the party's council representatives. 

"It's unfortunate that all councillors are tainted with the bad behaviour of really less than 0.3% of the total number of councillors of the ANC, but yet what they did tainted everyone else. Where that happened in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and elsewhere, we immediately asked for the removal of these people and that did happen. ANC structures went in high mode. Some complaints were not true," Duarte added. 

It can no longer be business and usual when those financial institutions look for big numbers and big profit-making companies.
Jesse Duarte

She said the party also engaged with its branches and warned members against the politicising of food parcels.

"We were worried that it was going to become a political football. Thankfully, it's not- it sorted itself out," she said.

The ANC also used its machinery to raise awareness of social distances and regulations through their social media pages. Duarte said the party used Facebook to explain incoming regulations to its constituencies.

She also touched on the ANC's post-Covid-19 economic recovery plan, saying that the pandemic exposed bitterly that the economic structures urgently had to change for poverty, inequality and unemployment to be elevated.

ALSO READ | ANC looks for new levers to boost South Africa's economy

"Therefore dismissing radical economic transformation of the economy is not something that can be shifted aside because it offends sensitivity. It's no longer a matter of massaging people's concerns," she said. 

Some of the discussions in the ANC's top leadership were also around stimulating small and medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and the introduction of a basic income grant, she said.

"If you stimulate SMMEs, you are extending the base of employment. For that to be successful, the idea is to take risks and provide them with necessary bank loans as well as loans from the investment institutions, like the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Industrial Development Corporation. 

"It can no longer be business and usual when those financial institutions look for big numbers and big profit-making companies. They are going to have to accept interventions by the state to stimulate the local economy is an absolute priority. It has to happen. We are pushing very hard for that to take place to be rooted in the implementation level of the state itself."

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