South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been and remains deeply implicated in the country’s corruption problem, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
The ANC and its leaders stand as Accused No. 1 in terms of corruption, although they may not stand alone in the dock, Ramaphosa, also President of the ANC, said in an open letter to ANC members.
“I write this letter to you, my fellow ANC member, as our movement and our country face one of the greatest challenges since the advent of democracy,” Ramaphosa said in reference to mounting corruption.
“We must acknowledge that our movement, the African National Congress, has been and remains deeply implicated in South Africa’s corruption problem,” he said.
Ramaphoso issued the letter amid growing anger and disillusionment at reports of corruption within the ANC while the country is battling the coronavirus pandemic.
“In recent weeks, we have heard stories of tenders for personal protective equipment that have been given to individuals associated with ANC leaders and of public servants flouting the law in issuing tenders,”said Ramaphosa.
There are local ANC leaders who have used food parcels meant for the poor to buy political favors from those people in the branch or broader community who they rely on for their positions, according to Ramaphosa.
What has caused the greatest outrage is that there are private sector companies and individuals, including civil servants, who have exploited a grave medical, social and economic crisis to wrongfully enrich themselves, according to Ramaphosa.
“This is an unforgivable betrayal for the millions of South Africans who are being negatively affected by the impact of COVID-19, experiencing hunger daily, hopelessness and joblessness,” he said.
Despite all the progress the ANC has made in fighting corruption these years, corruption stands as one of the greatest challenges facing the country, said Ramaphosa.
“The progress that our nation has made in improving the lives of our people in the last quarter century is being eroded by corruption and patronage,” he said.
While the current allegations about corruption in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic have brought this issue sharply to the fore, the reality is that corruption in this country has far deeper roots, according to Ramaphosa.
For more than 26 years, the ANC has been in government at the national level and in most provinces and municipalities.
This means that leadership positions in the ANC have been seen by some as the most direct route to, in the first instance, employment and, in the second instance, to influence in the award of tenders and the distribution of other government resources, according to Ramaphosa.
“Our lack of discipline and failure to deal with the issues in our movement have eroded our organizational ethos and standing,” he said.
He stressed the need to “draw a line in the sand,” act urgently, be decisive and demonstrate a clear political will.
The time has come for the ANC to be unflinching in restoring the values, ethics and standing of the organization, Ramaphosa said.
Those charged are required to insulate the ANC from reputational damage arising from their personal challenges by stepping aside while their cases are being heard, he said.
Every cadre accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices must account to the ANC Integrity Commission immediately or face disciplinary processes, said Ramaphosa.
People who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures should be summarily suspended, he warned.
Ramaphosa outlined a series of steps to wipe out corruption within the ANC, which include conducting lifestyle audits of all ANC leaders and public representatives, developing a clear policy on ANC leaders and their family members doing business with the state, and ensuring transparency and accountability in procurement.
He said the ANC has also empowered the Special Investigating Unit to probe any alleged corruption or misuse of COVID-19 resources in any department, province, municipality or state institution.
“The ANC and its members must continue to respect the Constitution of the country and the rule of law,” he said. Enditem