The ANC has launched a party-wide investigation into corruption allegations, where all provincial branches and leaders are required to draw up lists of every person accused of, or facing charges of wrongdoing.
These lists must then be delivered to the office of party secretary general, Ace Magashule, the City Press reported.
The party has come under intense scrutiny over the last few weeks, as several reports of corruption related to Covid-19 tenders have come to light, causing outrage among South Africans.
Over R5 billion worth of government contracts are currently being investigated by the Special Investigative Unit, which may have been handed out to those linked to government officials, or where the proper due diligence was not done.
The SIU’s corruption investigations are not limited to just tender fraud, however, with the theft of food parcels – intended for the most vulnerable communities hit by the virus and lockdown – by government officials also being probed.
In one such example, the Sunday Times reported that a politically connected person named in the Personal protective equipment (PPE) tender scandal in the Gauteng Health Department, made as much as an 800% profit, selling equipment back to the government.
Citing court papers filed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the Sunday paper said that mark-ups made by a “proxy” company included buying a million medical disposal bags from a supplier for 75 cents each and selling them to the health department for R7.
The SIU has obtained an order freezing about R36 million worth of assets that it said are the proceeds of corrupt Covid-19 PPE contracts between the proxy company, and the health department.
Magashule himself has been implicated in the recent string of Covid tenders going to the politically linked, with his sons receiving millions of rands worth of contracts over the last few months.
Business leaders and organisations have been unanimous in their condemnation of Covid-related fraud and corruption, saying that it severely dents government’s credibility to pull the country out of the crisis and restore the economy.
Government’s own Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) said that if decisive action isn’t taken against corruption, “attempts at ensuring that South Africa emerges from these multiple crises with a real chance at sustainable economic and social recovery, are unlikely to succeed.”
However, there is a widespread belief that the government, and the ANC which governs within it, lacks any real will or capacity to actually deal with the issue, beyond superficial talk on the matter.
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that allegations of corruption on Covid-19 procurement and the apparent irregular awarding of contracts to “sudden” businesses owned by friends and relatives of influential, ruling party and top government officials is serious cause for concern.
“Questions must be asked on whether the state has both the will and capability to root out and stop corruption,” it said.
Intellidex analyst, Peter Attard Montalto, meanwhile, said that the type of corruption in question – tender fraud and friends and family doing business with government – is so rooted within the ANC and how it manages political power, that it’s impossible for this to change without party-wide reform.
The modern ANC “is neither a policy generative machine nor an implementing machine” anymore. “It runs below the surface on tenderpreneurs, through neo-patrimonial rent extraction,” he said.
“The ANC is fundamentally incapable of shifting on corruption, in our view – not without a wholesale realignment of its membership, its parliamentary representatives and even those in government,” Attard Montalto said.
“Put simply, it isn’t going to happen unless these people are going to be taken out externally by law enforcement agencies.”
The proof of this mindset has been seen through virtually nothing being done against those within the party that have been linked to corrupt activities.
Both Attard Montalto, and more recently the Tutu Foundation, have highlighted that while much has been said about the things that have gone wrong, “little has been done to set them right”.
“There is a culture of impunity when it comes to corruption. Impunity flourishes in the absence of enforcement. None of the big fish and few little ones ever get caught,” the foundation said.
Despite high profile names – including those at the top of the ANC – being linked to corruption in the past, they remain in power, are shifted around the party, or are even promoted and rewarded.
The most recent example of this is how former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, was promoted the KwaZulu-Natal legislature – despite being arrested for and facing charges of fraud and corruption linked to R420 million worth of state contracts.
Other examples include those heavily tied to the Gupta state capture saga remaining within the party’s branches and in government. These include:
- Tina Joemat-Petterson (now chairperson of the Police Committee in the National Assembly);
- Bongani Bongo (now chairperson of the Home Affairs Committee in the National Assembly);
- Faith Muthambi (now chairperson of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Committee in the National Assembly); and
- Mosebenzi Zwane (now chairperson of the Transport Committee in the National Assembly).
According to the City Press, the lists being drawn up by the party must be audited, and include the names of all members who have been accused of corruption or other serious crimes; have outstanding criminal allegations or convictions; the outcomes of all cases against them; the members’ status within the party; and what is currently being done with them.
The ANC’s investigation is independent of the move from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to build a disciplinary database that will track and monitor all government officials and public servants under investigation for fraud and corruption.
DPSA minister Senzo Mchunu said that his department recognises the seriousness of public service employees involved in fraud and corruption, and the database is one measure being put in place to track those who are under investigation.