/ 12 March 2014

ANC list: It’s all about the comeback kids

Tens of thousands of ANC supporters have converged on Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit to hear President Jacob Zuma speak.
Tens of thousands of ANC supporters have converged on Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit to hear President Jacob Zuma speak.

The ANC's first batch of National Assembly candidates is a mixed bag of those returning from the political wilderness, leaders who have courted controversy including criminal investigations, as well as some poached from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Congress of the People (Cope).

In Tuesday's release, former ministers in Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet Thoko Didiza (public works) and Charles Nqakula (safety and security), as well as that administration's Reserve Bank governor, Tito Mboweni, have made a comeback to preferred ANC public representatives. Former ANC Western Cape chairperson Mcebisi Skwatsha has also been embraced for a possible MP position, and former police commissioner Bheki Cele will also in all likelihood be an MP after the elections.

Cele tops the list of names that the KwaZulu-Natal ANC wants to send to the National Assemlby.

It's a big comeback for Cele who was fired by President Jacob Zuma as the country's top cop in June 2012. A board of inquiry had found that Cele acted corruptly, dishonestly, or with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals signed with business tycoon Roux Shabangu, one for a building in Pretoria and another for a building in Durban.

Changing allegiances
Cope stands to lose out three senior MPs to the ANC – Leonard Ramatlakane, Juli Kilian and Nic Koornhof – who all appeared on the ANC's candidates list for the National Assembly. This came a day after Cope lost another MP, Nqaba Bhanga, who jumped to be a candidate for the DA.

The surprise names included Ronald Lamola, who was leading the ANC Youth League as an acting president when the party leadership decided to disband it.

A number of prominent MPs, especially those who have chaired Parliament's portfolio committees, did not appear on the list of 200 names published earlier on Tuesday, but they are expected to make it back to the legislature via the ANC's provinces to national lists. These are candidates the nine provinces recommend to top up the 200 proposed names from the national office.

Though the ANC stressed on several occasions that it was pushing for credible public representatives, several people with questionable backgrounds have made it to the list. Fraud accused national executive committee members Pule Mabe and former youth league deputy president Andile Lungisa, who is facing a similar charge, have been listed. So was Humphrey Mmemezi, who was recalled by the Gauteng ANC from an MEC position after being found guilty of violating the provincial legislature's ethics code, and Tina Joemat-Pettersson – found guilty of maladministration, improper and unethical conduct in the irregular awarding of a tender to manage the government's fisheries vessels have all made it to the list.

Another questionable MP candidate is sacked communications minister, Dina Pule, who was found guilty by Parliament's ethics committee for extending spousal benefits to her lover against the law.

The DA in a statement on Tuesdsay questioned their candidacies.

'Grossly unsuitable'
Chairperson of the DA's federal executive James Selfe said the ANC demonstrated that it was not serious about fighting corruption as it included candidates "who should rather be in court and or are grossly unsuitable for public office".

The ANC also tried to appease its tripartite alliance partner, labour federation Cosatu, by including in the list National Union of Mineworkers' president Senzeni Zokwana and National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union general secretary Fikile Majola on the list to the National Assembly.

But the surprises didn't end there.

In an unprecedented move in Parliament, an opposition MP used the time allocated to political parties to deliver statements on burning issues, to resign from her party and join the ANC.

DA MP Beverley Abrahams read out her resignation from the DA during the sitting of the National Council of Provinces and announced she was joining the ANC. A few minutes later, as the ANC publicised its list, her name appeared on number 118 on the list to the National Assembly. She told the Mail & Guardian that she sent her resignation email to the DA at the same time as she was delivering her statement.

'Voting for the DA is a waste of time'
?Abrahams said she was a DA member for 14 years and represented the party as a councillor in Johannesburg between 2000 and 2009. She spent a year at the Gauteng legislature before becoming an MP in 2010.

"The people must listen that voting for the DA is a waste of time, they must vote the ANC," she said. She refused to elaborate.

Meanwhile, Cope MP Papi Kganare revealed during the sitting of the National Assembly that Kilian, the party's administrative whip, also did not inform the party that she was leaving.

Wednesday is the deadline for all political parties who intend to contest the May 7 general elections to submit the names of candidates who will represent them in Parliament and in the nine provincial legislatures after the elections.