Follow Jordan’s example
The ANC stalwart, Pallo Jordan, did the right thing. Upon being found to have pimped his qualifications by the Sunday Times, he resigned as an MP.
The act felt like a throwback to a better era when people fell on their swords for the disjuncture of stated values and personal practice. It was an example of an old ANC where principles mattered and actions had consequences. Kudos followed his move, as they should, for the move is unusual and holds up a standard that others now have to follow. Will they?
In the new ANC, the tendency is different. The governing party allowed a new culture to set in. This was the culture of “innocent until proven guilty” – where cadres who face allegations of malfeasance hang on to powerful positions pending a court verdict. Often, they pursue the matter to the highest court, with lawyers funded by the public purse. Think former communications minister Dina Pule, who was reshuffled out of office on her red-soled Louboutins.
This hastened a trend of divorcing ethical practice from legal outcome.
From this trend grew one where politicians or public servants stay on because there is nobody more powerful who can charge them. And then this practice morphed into one where you leverage your contacts to stay in office.
This is a subversion of ethics and legal process by using networks of influence or the creation of crony networks. From here, it is a short step to impunity, which is where we are now. Jordan has reset the impunity clock.
Here are a few others who should follow suit.
The most obvious examples are recent ones. SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and SABC board chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala have been found to have faked their qualifications. They should stand down, but both seem intent on hanging on to their positions for dear life.
Others who face revelations that are harmful include ANC MP Pule Mabe, who is facing corruption charges related to his private business interests. This week, the national director of public prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, brushed off the murder, reckless driving and abuse charges he has faced in the past as too small to mention.
They are not. As head of the National Prosecuting Authority, his reputation should be cleaner than a load of Omo-soaked laundry. Time to go.
Two more. The Gauteng legislature’s Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa faces a range of eye-popping corruption charges related to his tenure as Gauteng health MEC some years ago. He should step down.
And that great Teflon Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson should consider whether she is up to the task of running our future energy needs.
Joemat-Pettersson has had numerous adverse rulings against her made by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, but she has been promoted to a more senior Cabinet role – she previously led the department of fisheries and agriculture.
Of course, there is an elephant in the room, and that is Number 1.
He is the one who has entrenched several of these harmful practices and changed the old culture in the governing ANC.