The ANC’s integrity commission has painted a bleak picture of a broken party at war with itself — dominated by factionalism and divisions that hamper its operations.
In his latest report, integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba told the ANC’s top six, who met on Thursday, that, in the process of interviewing 18 ANC members, the commission found that factionalism was hurting the party. (Four members did not present themselves to the commission.)
The interviews were prompted by the shock announcement two weeks ago by Deputy President David Mabuza that he would postpone his swearing-in as an MP, so that he could present his case to the party’s integrity commission. It had flagged him as among those tarnishing the image of the party.
Mashamba said: “It is clear that factions and divisions do exist in the political life of the ANC, and that they hamper the operations of the organisation. These factions are being fuelled actively by some at the very highest echelons of the leadership of the ANC.”
This week, divisions in the party played themselves out in public and on social media, after a press briefing by the ANC’s secretary general, Ace Magashule, about changing the Reserve Bank’s mandate. Magashule was publicly contradicted by the ANC’s head of economic transformation, Enoch Godongwana, and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
Similar battles happened in the months before the elections. After the polls, ANC members exchanged bitter messages on social media, accusing comrades of attempting to sabotage the party’s prospects in the elections by refusing to campaign.
The integrity commission found that the party’s inability to manage the divisions and factional battles was resulting in “political assassinations” and other members resorting to the courts to resolve internal party disputes at the cost of the ANC.
At its special meeting on April 1, the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) requested that the integrity commission review the list of the party’s electoral candidates for national and provincial legislatures.
A list of 22 candidates from the office of deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, and a briefing from the ANC’s vetting team, were then submitted to the integrity commission on April 6. The following day the integrity commission submitted “a brief report to the officials”.
Mashamba said the report “emphasised that the primary concern of the commission was that none of these comrades had accounted to the IC [integrity commission] immediately, as per the 54th National Conference Resolution on Corruption”.
The Mail & Guardian has seen the initial report, which included some of the names on the list. Among these were Mabuza, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, Fikile Mbalula, Zizi Kodwa and Kebby Maphatsoe. Of the 18 people who appeared before the integrity commission, 16 were members of the party’s NEC.
Magashule is said to have written to the 18 members on May 22 requesting them to make themselves available to the commission. They were interviewed last week. One of the main questions the ANC members were asked was why they had not accounted to the commission immediately following allegations of corruption, as they were required to do.
The commission told the members it had no intention of making any findings of innocence or guilt and that it was not a court of law or a disciplinary committee.
According to Mashamba’s latest report, the ANC leaders interviewed spoke of how their dignity had been impaired because of the public allegations and the sabotage they had endured at the hands of their comrades.
“Others pointed to being sabotaged in government by fellow NEC members. Others referred to efforts they had made to clear the allegations against them … and how these were being stymied,” Mashamba said.
“The issue of factions results in mistrust, unhappiness, lack of solidarity among comrades, suspicion of one another, [and suspicion] about the integrity of our organisational processes,” Mashamba said.
He said that women in the NEC had raised serious issues regarding patriarchy in the organisation.
The integrity commission recommended that the ANC should find a way to resolve allegations and correct distortions in the public domain and that there should be a culture of encouraging those who face serious allegations to step aside voluntarily.