Lifestyle audits on the cards for ANC members

Lifestyle audits, restrictions on Cabinet deployment, empowering the integrity commission and reining in members with extravagant wealth are among the interventions the ANC is considering to get its house in order.

The party’s head of organising, Fikile Mbalula, on Sunday confirmed a range of proposals that included restrictions and amendments to its own constitution. These formed part of debates by delegates attending its policy conference, underway in Soweto at the Nasrec Expo centre.

The discussions took place while the ruling party debated how to renew the organisation and change its structure to respond to rampant corruption and entrenched factionalism.

The proposals include:

  • A cap of 65% of the National Executive Committee (NEC) being deployed to Cabinet;
  • Establishing a new electoral council to screen nominees for leadership;
  • Compelling nominees for top leadership to declare campaign funding;
  • Amending the party’s constitution to set out the rules for the ANC caucus in Parliament; and
  • Empowering the integrity commission with the ability to subpoena anyone in the party.

Mbalula said a cap of 65% of the NEC being deployed to Cabinet had been proposed to ensure representation of all sections of society among the party’s top leadership.

“This should allow the ANC to be a balanced mix of cadres in government, those in civil society, business and other sectors of the society,” Mbalula told journalists on Sunday.

The electoral council would serve as an additional vetting body that interviews nominees for leadership on national, provincial, regional and local levels, said Mbalula. The council would be constituted by ANC members who have “resigned their desire to be elected” into leadership positions.

But the council would not be established or start operating until after President Jacob Zuma’s successor has been appointed, as the December conference would formalise the structure’s creation and deliberate upon its mandate.

In the meantime, the NEC would determine exactly how the leadership contest in the next six months would be managed. The NEC is expected to formulate guidelines for the leadership contest and Mbalula said some are pushing for people to be allowed to openly campaign and declare how they are seeking and obtaining support.

“We see people are campaigning, and probably we must allow them, but campaigning involves money. But people could be using money illegally and if they campaign openly, at least we must know how much they have to campaign and where do they get that money that they use to campaign,” Mbalula said.

He said the move to have lifestyle audits conducted on ANC members with questionable wealth follows calls on the government to investigate similar cases in society in general.

“You can’t say to society: ‘Arrest and investigate all those who have questionable wealth’ and members of the ANC are excluded. It starts with us … So the ANC must be able to give account of the questionable wealth of individuals,” Mbalula said.

The move to amend the ANC’s constitution seemed to have in part been informed by the looming motion of no confidence vote against Zuma in the national assembly. Speaker Baleka Mbete has written to political parties asking for submissions on whether she should allow the vote to happen in secret, raising fears that ANC MPs would vote with opposition parties to oust Zuma.

Mbalula said the policy conference had heard a proposal to include the rules that govern the ANC caucus in Parliament, in the party’s constitution. He also warned ANC MPs who planned to vote in favour of the motion that they would be committing “political suicide”.

The proposal related to the ANC caucus mirrors that of the Democratic Alliance, whose constitution automatically expels anyone who votes against the party line in the national Parliament or provincial legislatures.

Empowering the integrity commission, he said, was part of the review of the structure. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told the Mail & Guardian that the commission was established to guard the integrity of the organisation. Its inability to act immediately, due to a lack of powers, had made it ineffective.

Last year Zuma ignored the integrity commission’s request for him to step down after he met its officials in the aftermath of the scathing Constitutional Court judgement on Nkandla, which found he benefitted unduly from security upgrades and should pay back a portion of the money.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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