Integrity’s bark worse than its bite

ANC integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

ANC integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

The ANC’s integrity commission says it can’t, and won’t, compel the party to take any action against members implicated in wrongdoing — despite having stronger powers to intervene in cases of alleged misconduct.

Last year the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) resolved to give the integrity commission more teeth by making its recommendations binding. This year the party announced it had put in place new terms of reference to strengthen the commission’s function.

But commission chairperson George Mashamba told the Mail & Guardian that, although the commission did have some level of increased power, which would make it difficult for wrongdoers to avoid being held accountable, the structure could not compel the ANC to take action on its recommendations.

Last month Mashamba and his fellow commissioners held a workshop with their predecessors in the structure to conduct an official handover and agree on the renewed functions.

This included an agreement that any member implicated in wrongdoing had to appear before the commission or face disciplinary action.

Recently, however, the commission has seen resistance to its interventions, despite having more authority.

Last week Mashamba’s commission handed over a report on the VBS Mutual Bank looting saga to the NEC. The report recommended that ANC leaders, including Limpopo deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani and Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza, “step aside” from their positions and all party activities for their alleged involvement in the VBS heist.

The report was given to the ANC’s national working committee (NWC), but it has reportedly drawn resistance from some party members who believe the integrity commission may find itself being used in factional battles and to target individuals.

The ANC’s Gauteng province has also established its own integrity commission.
It submitted recommendations to the provincial executive committee (PEC) that former health MECs Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa have their ANC membership revoked. Mahlangu has been implicated in the Life Esidimeni tragedy and Hlongwa in corruption.

The Gauteng PEC agreed with the commission that neither of the two leaders be allowed to hold public office, but it declined to implement the recommendation that their ANC membership be revoked, which would remove them from all party structures.

Mashamba said the commission was not designed to compel the party to implement recommendations. “If you create a structure to assist you in doing your work, the structure can’t have overriding powers over you ... So it’s the NEC that will decide what to do with the [VBS] report. They can maybe reject it … they can do that.”

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