Is ANC sail­ing to its death?

By in­sist­ing on car­ry­ing the Zuma al­ba­tross around its neck, the party is caus­ing it­self tremen­dous dam­age from which it may never re­cover

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Mavuso Msimang voices@city­

On Au­gust 8, the ma­jor­ity of ANC MPs voted against a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. It is tempt­ing to see this as mark­ing the day when the nail was fi­nally driven into the cof­fin of the ANC, whose pur­pose had al­ways been ser­vice to the peo­ple and whose re­la­tion­ship with so­ci­ety was guided by the prin­ci­ples of re­spect and in­tegrity. The prin­ci­pled and coura­geous stand taken by its 30 MPs who voted in favour of the mo­tion, and by those who ab­stained and those who de­lib­er­ately ab­sented them­selves from Par­lia­ment, should cause us to de­fer the recital of our songs of lament for an ANC whose demise is on the cards.

The mes­sage con­veyed by th­ese pa­tri­ots, who must have en­dured the dis­com­fort of hav­ing to sup­port an op­po­si­tion mo­tion to un­seat their own pres­i­dent, was that they were no longer will­ing to im­pose on the na­tion the author­ity of a leader whose avari­cious be­hav­iour has cost the na­tion, par­tic­u­larly the poor, bil­lions in mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds.

By this act, the sup­port­ers of the mo­tion sig­nalled their re­pu­di­a­tion of the de­bil­i­tat­ing cor­rup­tion that has be­come the by­word for ANC gov­er­nance. Each of them was pre­pared to take this haz­ardous step in obe­di­ence to their con­sciences. It is in­con­se­quen­tial that their ac­tion was in con­flict with the ir­ra­tional Luthuli House in­junc­tion not to fol­low their con­science when cast­ing their votes.

The na­tion was aghast when, thanks to the trove of leaked Gupta emails, it re­alised the ex­tent of state cap­ture, the cor­rup­tion that has paral­ysed state-owned en­ter­prises; when it be­came aware of the ex­tent to which the man­age­ment of govern­ment had been sur­ren­dered to the Gupta fam­ily.

The de­fi­ant MPs will have re­alised, dis­con­so­lately, that the #GuptaLeaks had evoked but a tepid re­sponse from Luthuli House, barely com­men­su­rate with the mag­ni­tude of the af­front. They will have no­ticed how cir­cum­spect their head of­fice has al­ways been on the sub­ject the Gupta cor­rup­tion, as if to avoid of­fend­ing a pres­i­dent who, in the eleventh hour of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, has dis­cov­ered the ra­pac­ity of “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal”.

His­to­ri­ans will record that, on Au­gust 8 2017, on the eve of Women’s Day, ANC MPs, in their ma­jor­ity, voted to re­tain as its pres­i­dent the man who in 2005 faced a rape trial, at a time when he headed the Na­tional Aids Coun­cil; who ad­mit­ted to hav­ing had un­pro­tected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV pos­i­tive; who told a dis­be­liev­ing world that he had taken a shower to reduce the risk of con­tract­ing HIV.

Through­out the trial, this gifted singer and dancer had sung Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (bring my ma­chine gun) with a crowd of sup­port­ers and mem­bers of the ANC Women’s League (yes, them), the ANC Youth League and the SA Com­mu­nist Party Youth League. This mob reg­u­larly at­tacked the in­tegrity and moral stand­ing of the woman who had dared to en­tice the Big Man. There was not a word of ret­ri­bu­tion to the bay­ing crowd from the man whose dig­nity had been sul­lied by the se­duc­tions of a temptress.

The court found Zuma not guilty of rape. Sadly, af­ter the case, the woman pro­tec­tively known as Kh­wezi had to go into hid­ing. A year later, she was granted asy­lum in the Nether­lands, a sec­ond ex­ile for her. Fezek­ile Nt­sukela Kuzwayo, alias Kh­wezi, a trou­bled soul in many ways, died in Dur­ban on October 8 last year.

The ANC vote against the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence will have the ef­fect of en­sur­ing that Zuma – who could face 783 charges of cor­rup­tion, fraud, rack­e­teer­ing and money laun­der­ing – con­tin­ues as pres­i­dent of South Africa. The cor­rup­tion charges arise from Sch­abir Shaik’s fraud case in 2005. Shaik was found guilty of cor­rup­tion for pay­ing Zuma R1.2 mil­lion and of fraud for writ­ing off R1 mil­lion of Zuma’s un­paid debts. Zuma was not in court with Shaik. He as­sured the public that he would seek the op­por­tu­nity to clear his name in court.

But Msholozi had sec­ond thoughts. He did all he could, at tax­pay­ers’ cost, to stay out of court. The full Bench of the Pre­to­ria High Court ruled that the du­bi­ous de­ci­sion by the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity not to charge Zuma was ir­ra­tional and or­dered that he be charged. The party-first ANC vote has en­sured that the pres­i­dent will, in­deed, con­tinue in of­fice and hope­fully avoid hav­ing to clear his name.

On Au­gust 8, the ANC used its ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment to en­sure that the man who thor­oughly em­bar­rassed the ANC in his han­dling of the Nkandla de­ba­cle stays in of­fice.

Former public pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela found that some of the money govern­ment had spent should be for the pres­i­dent’s per­sonal ac­count. Zuma de­clined, say­ing he would not pay for con­struc­tion work he had not re­quested. When he later told the Con­sti­tu­tional Court that he had al­ways been will­ing to pay, the public was left won­der­ing what im­por­tance the pres­i­dent at­taches to the truth.

The Nkandla tragi­com­edy pro­duced episodes that would have been amus­ing had they not been so dis­tress­ing. Former po­lice min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko com­mis­sioned an il­le­gal in­ves­ti­ga­tion whose only ob­ject was to un­der­mine the Public Pro­tec­tor’s rec­om­men­da­tion that the pres­i­dent pay back the money. The con­clu­sion of his cha­rade was a rec­om­men­da­tion that govern­ment pay even more money, in­clud­ing for such in­no­va­tions as the “fire pool”. The Nkandla se­cu­rity up­grades project was ini­tially es­ti­mated to cost R27 mil­lion. It ended up “con­ser­va­tively” cost­ing R246 mil­lion. The profli­gacy!

On Au­gust 8, ANC MPs voted to en­sure that the man who counts the Gup­tas among his spe­cial friends stays in of­fice. The pres­i­dent’s friends have a busi­ness empire that spans com­puter equip­ment, me­dia and min­ing. It has made cer­tain that the pres­i­dent’s fam­ily mem­bers are given shares and se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions in the com­pa­nies it owns. This priv­i­lege is ex­tended to his po­lit­i­cal al­lies as well and, Lord, do they sing for their sup­per. Th­ese com­pa­nies do enor­mous busi­ness with govern­ment and its com­pa­nies.

We now know that the Gup­tas have the de facto power to de­ploy min­is­ters and se­nior public ser­vants in sec­tors of in­ter­est to their busi­nesses. It just so hap­pens that triedand-tested public ser­vants, who have sought to pro­tect the public purse from the pres­i­dent’s friends and re­ported their cor­rupt in­tents, have ended up los­ing their jobs.

We also know now that the Gupta wed­ding party that flew into a na­tional key point in 2013, was paid for by the South African tax­payer, cour­tesy of KPMG, who wrote off the mer­ri­ment as a busi­ness ex­pense. Talk about adding in­sult to in­jury.

Luthuli House ar­gued against the vote on the false premise that sup­port­ing the op­po­si­tion mo­tion con­sti­tuted the be­trayal of a prin­ci­ple. No such prin­ci­ple ex­ists.

Se­condly, it ar­gued that re­mov­ing Zuma would spell the end of the ANC in govern­ment. So, if the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s con­tin­u­ance in govern­ment must rely on the main­te­nance of a reg­i­men of ram­pant cor­rup­tion reg­i­men and if the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s at­ten­dant loss of the moral author­ity to lead is con­sid­ered in­con­se­quen­tial, then noth­ing demon­strates more clearly the ex­tent to which our lead­ers have drifted away from the masses.

One must won­der if, like sailors in the An­cient Mariner, ANC mem­bers are be­ing called upon to carry their al­ba­tross around their necks and so con­sign the whole or­gan­i­sa­tion to cer­tain death.


TRUTH OR DARE Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment pre­pare to vote for or against the DA’s mo­tion of no con­fi­dence against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in Par­lia­ment in Cape Town on Tues­day

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