If the ANC wants to be taken seriously in this Nkandla saga, it will need to show it by being tough on its senior leadership.
The ANC has a huge dilemma in Nkandla. Members, supporters, and those who belong to the opposition ranks all know that this spells trouble for the ruling party. The question is, what needs to be done now that public protector Thuli Madonsela's report is out?
There is of course no doubt that the ANC will win the forthcoming elections, with or without the Nkandla scandal, and with or without Zuma. Despite that, there is no denying the focus on Nkandla continues to erode the image of the ANC in the eyes of the masses. Knowing this, what does the ANC need to do?
We must be mindful of the fact that Madonsela does not have the final say and her findings could still be challenged in court. But her meticulous investigation, despite the challenges she said she faced, brought forth overwhelming evidence.
Madonsela was not unjustified in saying that the project should have been looked at with more vigour when the media reported the cost of Nkandla was in excess of R65-million as early as 2009. How it was allowed to escalate to almost four times more in three years is shocking.
It is also important to note that Madonsela's findings can and should be challenged if the parties involved strongly believe that she was unfair in her findings. There is also the risk of the courts not being as lenient on the parties involved if they find her report was correct.
At its 53rd national conference in Mangaung in 2012, the ANC adopted certain resolutions and admitted some hard truths about itself. I will be quoting extensively from the document entitled "53rd National Conference Resolutions", focusing mostly on the section called "Organisational Renewal".
In the introduction, the "Resolutions of the 53rd National Conference" points out that the ANC has survived for more than a century due to "readiness and willingness of its members to make sacrifices in pursuit of the cause of the people as a whole".
It is true that many people sacrificed their lives, freedom and time away from their families in order for us to secure the freedoms we have today. If we look at the cost of Nkandla, it was not the members who sacrificed in pursuit of the cause of the people as a whole. On the contrary, it was the people who sacrificed millions for a handful of people. This was due to systematic failure throughout the project to put it under control.
The 2012 resolutions also have some very pointed issues to say regarding cadre policy: "Believing that the neglect of cadre policy is at the centre of most of the current weaknesses and challenges faced by our movement in the post-1994 era. The policy conference reaffirms the perspective that our revolution will only succeed if the movement continuously produces a contingent of cadres who are conscious, competent, committed, disciplined and conscientious."
The important point here regarding "the neglect of cadre policy" being at the centre of the weaknesses of the ANC is recognised, however, it is one thing to acknowledge this on paper and quite another to implement it. If cadre policy is not implemented vigorously, the weaknesses the party sees will continue to prevail and it will descend into an abyss of chaos and attract parasites who will only see it as a means to serve themselves and not the people. The ANC will become a feeding frenzy and will be left but a carcass beyond redemption. This cannot and should not be allowed to happen. To avoid this, the ANC must not neglect the cadre policy when it suits certain individuals. It must apply it to all, otherwise people will support the party begrudgingly and eventually not at all.
At some point, the ANC will have to show that it is serious by being serious when it comes to misconduct of its senior leadership. It is understandable why the ANC would feel the need to protect the leader in public, but I hope he is being reprimanded in private and punitive steps are being taken. It is a pity that since this presidency began we talk about what seems to be personal scandals.
The 53rd national conference resolution on safeguarding core values: "More urgent steps should be taken to protect the image of the organisation and enhance its standing in society by ensuring, among others, that urgent action is taken to deal with public officials, leaders and members of the ANC who face damaging allegations of improper conduct. In addition, measures should be put in place to prevent abuse of power or office for private gain or factional interests. The ANC can no longer allow prolonged processes that damage its integrity."
Interestingly, the resolution states urgent action needs to taken when dealing with leaders and members who "face damaging allegations of improper conduct", and also speaks about "private gain". According to Madonsela's findings, "[Zuma's] failure to act in protection of state resources constitutes a violation of paragraph 2 of the executive ethics code and accordingly, amounts to conduct that is inconsistent with his office as a member of Cabinet, as contemplated by section 96 of the Constitution."
Let us go back to the resolutions again. "The ANC members who are found guilty of wrongdoing in other institutions of society should also be subjected to internal disciplinary processes in line with the ANC code of conduct. This will send an unambiguous message in society that the ANC does not tolerate any wrongdoing, including corruption, among its members."
If the ANC is serious about this, then the big question posed by the above statement gives me pause. It says members found guilty of wrongdoing "in other institutions of society should be subject to internal disciplinary process". In all fairness, according to my interpretation of the document, the president was neither found wanting nor exonerated by the public protector. She did find him in violation of executive ethics code in his failure to protect state resources. So what does that mean the ANC will do? Will there be an internal disciplinary process since he was found guilty of that by an "other institution of society"? He at least deserves a reprimand for that; unless the findings are to be challenged in a court of law first.
If the ANC wants to be seen to be serious, it has to implement the beautiful words it has on paper. The ANC needs to protect itself and not save individuals at its own expense. The ANC survived before them and should survive beyond them if it obeys itself and not personal individual interest.