Soviet ready to clean shop

The out­spo­ken politi­cian hopes to re­gain pub­lic con­fi­dence in the ANC

Mail & Guardian - - News - Di­neo Bendile

The ANC’s newly elected Lim­popo pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary, Soviet Lek­ganyane, wants ac­tion to be taken against po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in the eight mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the pron­vice that wrong­fully in­vested pub­lic money with the em­bat­tled VBS Mu­tual Bank.

He also wants ANC lead­ers in the prov­inces’s five re­gions to stop dic­tat­ing who should be ap­pointed to mu­nic­i­pal man­ager and other key po­si­tions.

In an in­ter­view with the Mail & Guardian this week, Lek­ganyane said that, un­der his lead­er­ship, the party would start im­ple­ment­ing “con­se­quence man­age­ment” against those im­pli­cated in wrong­do­ing to re­store the con­fi­dence in the ANC that had been lost over the past few years.

Lek­ganyane said the party would no longer tol­er­ate mem­bers who were “milk­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties un­til they bleed”, adding there was no doubt that some form of ac­tion needed to be taken in the VBS mat­ter.

The bank was placed un­der cu­ra­tor­ship in March be­cause of a liq­uid- ity cri­sis. It was ex­posed to about R1.5-bil­lion in de­posits by about 15 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the coun­try. Eight of those were in Lim­popo, which had col­lec­tively in­vested more than R900-mil­lion, and it ap­pears that they are un­likely to re­cover the money, plac­ing them at risk.

In ad­di­tion to the gov­ern­ment in­quiry, Lek­ganyane said the ANC in Lim­popo would sum­mon fi­nance MEC Rob Too­ley and co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance MEC Jerry Ndou to pro­vin­cial head­quar­ters to present re­ports on how the fi­nan­cial trans­gres­sions oc­curred.

“There should be re­me­dial ac­tion taken. VBS is not a com­mer­cial bank and in terms of any law that gov­erns gov­ern­ment, you can­not in­vest pub­lic money with a mu­tual bank. That is the first contravention. Once we have that re­port we will fol­low up with the re­spec­tive mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for them to tell us [what hap­pened],” Lek­ganyane said.

“One thing the [ANC] chair­per­son [Stan Matha­batha] has al­ways spo­ken about is a lack of con­se­quence man­age­ment where trans­gres­sions have hap­pened. We must find ways in which we don’t purge peo­ple be­cause there is a new lead­er­ship in ad­min­is­tra­tion, but we take cor­rec­tive ac­tion. You can’t al­low a lapse of ad­min­is­tra­tive stan­dards.”

De­pend­ing on the scope of the ANC’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the party might find it­self hav­ing to take ac­tion against its newly elected deputy chair­per­son, Florence Radzi­lani, who is also the mayor of the Vhembe dis­trict mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Of the R900-mil­lion in­vested by Lim­popo mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, Radzi­lani’s ad­min­is­tra­tion in­vested the largest amount — R300-mil­lion — which made up 35% of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s op­er­at­ing cap­i­tal.

Lek­ganyane said he would not go into the specifics of who had been re­spon­si­ble for what blun­der and would wait for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to un­fold.

For the new pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary, the VBS mat­ter is one ex­am­ple of the “gross in­com­pe­tence” he be­lieved had caused a 11.8% de­cline in sup­port for the ANC in Lim­popo dur­ing the 2016 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, as well as the party’s loss of the Thabaz­imbi, Modi­molle and Mook­go­pong lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Lek­ganyane said ad­min­is­tra­tive in­com­pe­tence and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in the ap­point­ment of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials would have to come to an end to im­prove the ANC’s chances of suc­cess in the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions.

“If you have a sit­u­a­tion where a re­gion of the ANC can in­struct the mu­nic­i­pal­ity on who to ap­point and who not to ap­point, such things al­low those prac­tices to creep into the or­gan­i­sa­tion and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will even­tu­ally col­lapse.”

Al­though the ANC is find­ing ways to deal with the in­ter­nal is­sues that are af­fect­ing its gov­er­nance, the party has al­ready lost some of its sup­port in the prov­ince to the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF).

The EFF first par­tic­i­pated in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in 2016 and got 16.7% of the vote in Lim­popo. In ad­di­tion to find­ing ap­peal among the ANC’s con­stituency, the EFF is also gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity among a younger gen­er­a­tion of vot­ers, whom it will tar­get in next year’s elec­tions.

De­spite this, Lek­ganyane said the ANC did not view the EFF as a threat to its elec­toral am­bi­tions.

“The re­al­ity is that the ma­jor­ity of EFF mem­bers were in the ANC. They have just changed the place but the cul­ture re­mains the same. Our elec­tion mes­sages are al­ways very pos­i­tive. South Africans want those kind of pos­i­tive mes­sages. They don’t want to feel like you are be­ing quar­rel­some or ar­ro­gant.”

‘Bleed­ing us dry’: The ANC’s Soviet Lek­ganyane wants to com­bat the party’s rep­u­ta­tion for cor­rup­tion Photo: Oupa Nkosi

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