An ethics committee’s nightmare Nine wasted years? Mara for who?


It’s been a long, tough and maddeningly unproductive week.

Repeated taxi trips to court in that hellish inferno that is Pietermaritzburg and a morning spent trying to get blood from a stone while nervously looking over my shoulder in Glebelands Hostel have resulted in little more than driving my anxiety levels through the roof.

My attempts to get an inside view of the ANC’s lists for the national and provincial parliaments have been just as ineffective.

Those who know whether or not the governing party will summon the courage to cull the state capture brigade and other comrades with pending corruption cases from its candidates for the May elections aren’t talking. At least not to me.

There’s none of the usual leaks, no WhatsApped lists, no whispering backlash from the comrades who got left out or their backers, so one assumes the ANC process is yet to be concluded.

The process of screening the would-be parliamentarians must be a nightmare for the ANC’s ethics committee and the others tasked with ensuring that all the candidates make it “through the eye of a needle”.

It’s a big job: events in the recent past have left a fair number of the comrades with question marks hanging over their integrity. Quite a few appear to be more suited to 15 years in Westville Prison or Sun City rather than another term in Parliament, or Cabinet, if the testimony before the Zondo commission by former Bosasa operations head Angelo Agrizzi and his colleagues, and earlier witnesses who testified about the reach of the Gupta family, is anything to go by.

Many of the comrades named thus far made the cut at the ANC’s nominations conference and are on the draft list, which is currently being vetted.

Will the ANC field the “ton of chicken” detachment, to use Bosasa’s terminology for those it bought and paid for in the former liberation movement and government? Will they dump the alleged recipients of cash-stuffed Louis Vuitton bags, crates of fine whisky and cut-up lambs?

Agrizzi and associates made sure they issued enough of their personalised Bosasa cards to key people on both sides of the ANC divide to ensure that they had their claws into both factions. Factor in the fightback by former president Jacob Zuma and his supporters and the chances of a clean-out of the lists ahead of May are suddenly looking slim.

The party still has some time. The deadline for the submission of final party lists to the Electoral Commission (IEC) will only be set after President Cyril Ramaphosa gazettes the election date. One assumes he will only do so once the ANC has its election ducks in a row.

In his Twitter rant this week, Zuma made it clear that he’s not going to toe the line and keep quiet while Ramaphosa and others place the blame for the mess the party and the country are in on him with their “nine wasted years” narrative, so don’t expect the announcement very soon.

Zuma let it all hang out in his marathon tweet, lashing Ramaphosa and associates for making him their scapegoat and defending South Africa’s achievements under his presidency.

“I never once blamed any predecessor or pointed to any perceived failing of any predecessor when I came to the leadership,” tweeted Nxamalala. “I focused on what we would do and achieve in the ANC, and we focused on achieving those things. There is no such thing as nine wasted years behind us.”

Heavy stuff, but to be expected from the former head of state.

Zuma needs to divert attention from his own impending court appearance — and an impending stint before the microphone at the Zondo commission.

The limited platforms the ANC has given him during campaign time don’t include speaking slots — even the seemingly unending list of ANC “memorial lectures” in KwaZulu-Natal have dried up — so he is almost forced to use social media to keep stirring the pot.

Ramaphosa’s lack of response is understandable. Engaging Zuma publicly would be a flop. If I were Ramaphosa I would keep quiet and let Zuma continue to hang himself.

I’d cut Zuma’s data allowance, though. Make him pay for his own online fightback.

On one level, I have to agree with Zuma’s offensive on Twitter. The nine years weren’t totally wasted.

When it came to looting the coffers of the state, gutting the criminal justice system, pimping us to the Guptas, the Watsons and who knows which other sugar daddy and turning the ANC into a personal cheerleading detachment, Nxamalala and his associates wasted no time at all, let alone nine years.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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