ANC lists sidestep hard decisions
Those ANC members tainted by allegations of corruption that could tarnish the image of the party were left to decide for themselves whether to withdraw from party lists, after discussions with the party leadership.
The list process was described by insiders as a fine balancing act. As it drew to a close this week, MPs and MPLs submitted their nominations on the Electoral Commission’s online portal ahead of the submission of the final list to the IEC on Wednesday. It was a fraught process, leaving many unhappy as the party “screened and cleaned” the lists.
Appearing high on the list is critical for politicians who want to serve on provincial and national executives.
Nationally, Cabinet is appointed from the 400 MPs in Parliament — and the president has the prerogative to appoint two individuals who are not MPs to Cabinet.
The ANC had to balance the factional dynamics in its ranks with the renewal agenda led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
It also had to factor in demographics such as race, gender and age.
Party structures had nominated MPs who are implicated in state capture and corruption, including Malusi Gigaba, Jacob Zuma and Nomvula Mokonyane, according to the draft lists released by the party ahead of its “cleaning-up” process.
ANC branches had also nominated Bathabile Dlamini, who faces allegations of the social development department paying R1-million for VIP security for her children when she was minister, and who was found by the Constitutional Court to have behaved “recklessly and grossly negligently” in her handling of the 2017 social grants crisis.
Sources on the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) said there were two “legs” to the list process.
The first was to vet nominees by checking individuals’ backgrounds, , including for criminal records. The second related to the guidelines released by the party ahead of the selection process.
“We had to be uncompromising on those guidelines … for instance, the list conference said the ANC was losing its nonracial character,” said a source on the NEC who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The guidelines said the lists must show the nonracial character so what you saw was a number of provinces’ lists sent back to work on that.”
Another NEC source confirmed this, adding that the lists of provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng had been sent back to improve racial representivity.
A third source said those whose presence on the list could taint the image of the ANC were “quietly spoken to” by the office of the secretary general and other officials.
ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said only nominees with criminal convictions would be dropped off the list. She said one person had been struck off for this reason.
She said the top 25% of the list was untouched in order to respect the will of ANC structures that nominated them.
Thereafter the vetting process took place, Duarte said. This determined whether individuals complied with IEC regulations, for instance, whether they were deemed insolvent or had a criminal record.
The screening process also involved a performance assessment of nominees who are public officials.
The lists then went to the NEC.
Duarte said no one was referred to the integrity committee. Those who believed they should step aside were allowed to do so. They would still be able to do so until the process closes on Wednesday. She confirmed that the leadership had had discussions with some nominees about this.
“We take into account what is real and what is a media narrative. We cannot assume someone is guilty simply because you guys in the media create that narrative. We have to give everyone a fair chance and we have certain values that we hold to,” she said.
Duarte was confident that the list the ANC produced was a “good one”.
The party’s integrity commission chairperson, George Mashamba, confirmed that no names had been referred to the committee. “We have not received a list, not at all,” he said.
But the commission was still to meet over the weekend, he said.
Two NEC leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was hard to exclude people on the basis of untested allegations.
“If someone is accused of a tender scam in the provinces by another, is that enough to leave that person out? Where do you set the bar?” said one NEC source.
The ANC’s allies, union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP), said they were not too prescriptive about the ANC lists and broadly welcomed them. SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said some people had had to withdraw their names, but overall, the party “accepted” the “spirit” of the list and would be with the ANC when it handed them over to the IEC on Wednesday.
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said unionists who served one term should be allowed to return to Parliament for a second term. He added that the federation had, at its own national congress, rejected quotas for its leaders.
IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said the process of accepting nominations online had begun and would continue until the cut-off on Wednesday.