Dina Pule, Corruption and the ANC

2013-08-21 13:38

Ostensibly, Dina Pule was fired from President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet because the mounting evidence of her corruption became too much to ignore. Even before the charges were confirmed by a Parliamentary Inquiry, the conclusion seemed foretold.

Pule was, and is, corrupt and would be made to face the consequences. The President fired her to send the signal that corruption is unacceptable.

(Let’s pretend that he did it for the national interest and not for his own political purposes. Also, let’s ignore the 700- odd charges of fraud and corruption he may have to answer if the DA’s success in securing the Spy Tapes means they are re-instituted )

Ben Turok (a veteran ANC MP who is also the Co-Chair of Parliament’s Joint Ethics Committee) delivered a stinging report that, with forensic precision, recounted Pule’s corruption in embarrassing detail. Choosing not to waiver, like he did with POSIB, Turok spoke words that will live on in Hansard forever. Not even Pule’s party affiliation being the same as Turok’s, or the majority, could save her.

Speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, making no comment on Turok’s desire to increase the Committee’s punitive powers, but making equally strong remarks to the House, confirmed the Committee’s sentence: 15 days holiday (I mean, suspension) and 30 days salary forfeited.

Pule rose and delivered a terse, short apology; her voice, some say, thick with emotion, betraying the steely expression she wore throughout proceedings. Her apology was short and was actually rather unapologetic. It was incredible that, notwithstanding the evidence against her, when the opportunity arose to apologise to Parliament and the people of South Africa, she, trenchantly, chose to absolve herself of blame by saying that she “did her best” and apologised if she erred.

The apology’s brevity was probably reflective of its sincerity: it was left wanting.

What was probably more remarkable however, as tweeted by DA MP Dianne Kohler-Bardnard (who served on the Committee that convicted Pule), is that Pule’s lack of contrition and formalized disgrace did not disbar her from being treated like a “rock star.”

Indeed, several ANC heavyweights, including Cabinet Ministers and Whips, were seen embracing Pule after the proceedings concluded. I suppose turning blind eye to corruption, identified by the Constitutional Court in Glenister as being so pernicious that it remains the biggest threat to the state’s ability to meet its constitutional obligations, is a daily occurrence for the ruling party.

But, that she has not been excommunicated or permanently sanctioned for this kind of egregious violation, is not only a telling reflection on the ANC’s commitment to fighting corruption, it is also a damning illustration of its ambivalence.

Corruption is not unique to the ANC, South Africa, the government or black people. Thats not a defence of the current state of affairs. Corrupt interests underpinned Apartheid. Corruption in the military-industrial complex  of the first world is notoriously rampant. Private-sector corruption, in the form of insider training of or worse, happens all the time. Corruption is a universal phenomenon. And corruption hurts the poorest most.

What makes the ANC’s lack of action so worthy of mention is that this is how it always operates, despite saying that it is anti-corruption and pro-poor.

Tony Yengeni was carried into prison as a hero and was welcomed, on his premature release, as an even bigger one. Julius Malema, while in the fold, treated Limpopo as his personal fiefdom.

There are many other examples. Including that of No 1.

That Pule will face investigation by the Police and the NPA is no consolation. She remains an ANC MP, able to participate, barring her suspended time, in affairs of state, despite showing her personally immoral code and distinct lack of professionalism.

Had Pule been found guilty of similar in the private sector, not only would she have lost all status and office, she would probably have been jailed. How she can then remain an ANC MP, with all the evidence decided against her, is as sad as it is unfortunate.

Too often, party membership, affiliation and interest is out above that which benefits the nation. The rule of law is seen to, and in some cases is, subverted for the sake of the party. It is a sad state of affairs that the ANC finds itself in, and that we too have to suffer as a result.

The ANC must find its moral compass and act decisively against this kind of erosion of its, and South Africa’s, core. It must actively combat the idea that enrichment for the few will be actioned by pilfering from the many; that the public purse is actually an elite private banking account.

And it’s not only in the interests of the ANC to do that, it’s in all our interest. Given how central the ruling party is to the operation of power, and given how extensively it givers, it’s attitude and action to corruption, whether we like it or not, affects all of us, directly and indirectly.

The ANC was once a noble movement forged in the ideal of struggle for the betterment of the lives of all people, the promise and hope of a better tomorrow. A failure to rid itself of corrupt members, including the perception that tolerates corruption and isambivalent about it, will not only institutionalize corruption further; it will also undermine and tear apart any progress we hoped to make since Apartheid.

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