Editorial: The ANC lacks consequence management

As we report this week, in the areas of Limpopo where people lost their money to the looting of VBS Mutual Bank, the party’s own structures are pushing back against the reinstatement of two officials implicated in the bank’s collapse.  

In the North West, we also report that a deputy minister is alleged to have intervened to keep a municipal manager, who was subsequently arrested and is in court.

At its central headquarters in Luthuli House, the party seems unwilling to tackle those within its ranks who are tainted. If reports are to be believed, the reinstatement of the VBS-implicated duo in Limpopo came after a lively debate, with the main defence being that the standard set in other cases of alleged corruption is to keep cadres in their offices until they are jailed. 

“If you kept your position, why should I lose mine?” is a powerful defence in a party that has so many officials, from the bottom to the top, implicated in theft and abuses of power.  

It is, of course, difficult for the ANC because these are people who are, in the eyes of our justice system, innocent until proven guilty. 

But, at Nasrec in 2017, when Cyril Ramaphosa manoeuvred his way into power, the ANC said it would be more responsive, accountable and not use public office to serve personal interests. The party, after all, has a duty to lead by example. That’s how it convinces people to vote in, and trust, its manifesto. 

The Nasrec promise ought to be effected by the ANC’s integrity committee. But, as the VBS debacle shows, it seems unable to ensure consequences for those who seek to abuse the trust of society. 

This then was another broken promise for a party adept at negotiating with truth. 

In provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West, the ANC has been able to act with this kind of impunity and still register an 80%-plus share of the vote. 

And here we are reaping the failure of our political class to provide proper opposition. An opposition that didn’t care only about a narrow set of interests would hold the moral ground from which to challenge the ANC’s inability to police itself. So, although party structures in Limpopo are warning of the consequences of cadre redeployment for the 2021 elections, there is a vacuum in terms of who can offer a better option. 

All the while everyone is paying the price of a corruption-riddled party maintaining power. Three million jobs have been lost during the lockdown. In the past two months, 11 000 excess deaths have been recorded. The government caved in to the taxi industry. Teachers and learners are contracting Covid-19 while schools still don’t have water and sanitation. 

But, as the country staggers, the ANC continues to support its rotten cadres.

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