Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Editorial: Stop looting Mlangeni’s legacy

In 2018, ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni accepted an honorary doctorate at Rhodes University. He was, at that time, chair of the ANC’s integrity committee. This was a party that he had given so much for, but was now riddled with corruption. 

In his speech, he said: “Some of our political leaders have become absolutely corrupt — they are no longer interested in improving the lives of our people. They are busy lining their pockets with the money that is meant to help the poor people. What a disgrace. They have forgotten that many people died for this democracy that we are enjoying today. The percentage of our unemployed youth is very high, poverty is rampant, and there is no sign of an immediate solution.”

This remains the reality of South Africa, something Mlangeni made it a point to constantly address, repeating that this is not the country he fought for. He and many others sacrificed their freedom, spending decades behind bars fighting apartheid.

Today, too many ANC comrades will send tributes for Mlangeni — applauding him for years of sacrifice, integrity and honour — yet steal from the fiscus and loot what is meant for the poor. 

For instance, this week ANC member Nomvula Mokonyane gave quite a performance at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. “Mama Action” has a career packed with allegations of corruption. Under her watch, the water and sanitation department went bankrupt. People in Giyani still don’t have water. And her interference in the next phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project will mean that the Vaal System will run out of water during the next big drought. She shows arrogant disregard for the lives of the people she was meant to serve. 

She denies any wrongdoing. 

At the Zondo commission she launched into an attack on her accusers and then said it was usual for companies to give money and other forms of support to the ANC. These are companies that have done well because they got lucrative state contracts. And, often, these contracts are given without due process. At least she was honest about corruption in government and the ruling party. 

Some of our political leaders have become absolutely corrupt — they are no longer interested in improving the lives of our people. They are busy lining their pockets with the money that is meant to help the poor people. What a disgrace.

Andrew Mlangeni

Last week, our editorial focused on the low level of “consequence management” in the ANC. The party reinstated two officials in Limpopo who were implicated in the looting of VBS Mutual Bank. People lost their life savings, but still the ANC agreed to the argument that they couldn’t be suspended if other corrupt officials remained in their jobs. 

The ANC has and has had no shortage of corrupt officials. It is hard to agree with Mlangeni’s view that only “some” of our political leaders are corrupt. Covid-19 has exposed how widespread corruption tore the heart out of our institutions, from parastatals to hospitals and infrastructure projects. 

But there are indeed good people in the party who keep things going. Mlangeni, we thank you for having been one of them. 

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

More top stories

State to subpoena and fact-check Agrizzi’s ‘illness’ claims

The National Prosecuting Authority will conduct its own probe into Angelo Agrizzi’s claims of ill health, after he failed to attend court again

UK puts army on standby as fuel pumps run dry

Desperate motorists queued up at fuel pumps across Britain, draining tanks, fraying tempers and prompting calls for the government to use emergency powers to give priority access to healthcare and other essential workers

Tigrayans are starving to death

The famine that was feared has come to pass, and aid just isn’t getting in

How to game Twitter’s algorithm – and hoodwink journalists

It is possible to convince newsrooms looking for a topical story that something is news when it isn’t, to dangerous effect

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…