/ 18 December 2022

Either way, the ANC is still the #1 tsotsi

Anc 55 National Conference 7612
Despite having put measures in place to prevent corruption, little or no work has been done by the party, leaving it open to more scrutiny in 2023. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)


There is little else that burdens the ANC more than corruption. Its 55th elective conference was more about which contender was least affected by scandal. 

On the second day of the much anticipated conference, where the party elects a new crop of leaders, Cyril Ramaphosa’s legal woes were glossed over by the integrity commission tasked to be the judge, jury and executioner of whether he had put the party into disrepute. 

The commission’s report, according to the organisational report, dedicated only a few lines to Ramaphosa and his Phala Phala scandal. He was among 12 party leaders it had met during 2022. The commission simply said it had met the party’s president twice and made no recommendations. 

Ramaphosa, as expected, was the frontrunner in the nomination processes, garnering more than 2 037 votes against his contender, Zweli Mkhize, who trailed behind with 916. 

Many of those nominated for the top seven positions have either been implicated in corruption or had to face the integrity commission. 

The Phala Phala scandal has dominated much of the conversation both in the ANC and the public. 

Ramaphosa had branded himself as having been above his comrades who, in the Zuma years, had looted and hollowed state resources and institutions. 

It came as a blow to his allies in the party and South Africans when the infamous spook, Arthur Fraser, laid criminal charges against the president for corruption, fraud and money laundering. The same charges that put secretary general Ace Magashule on suspension and rendered him a political pariah. 

Ironically his detractors belonging to either the so-called radical economic transformation grouping or the Mkhize faction saw this as the perfect weapon to dislodge Ramaphosa in the national executive committee (NEC). The same faction had defended Mkhize’s associates and family tainted by the Digital Vibes scandal. 

The integrity commission, which has failed to make recommendations regarding  Ramaphosa, had been disconcertingly swift in its delivery of two findings against Mkhize, opening themselves up to allegations of bias. 

The commission, composed of party elders, has previously been accused of playing factional politics when it summons specific individuals and makes recommendations. 

Those who have gone on the warpath against Ramaphosa have themselves been implicated in wrongdoing or are the biggest defenders of Mkhize. Individuals such as Bathabile Dlamini, Andile Lungisa, Nomvula Mokonyane and Tony Yengeni have either called for Ramaphosa to resign or have blamed him for the poor state of the party. 

Other than Mokonyane, the three other ANC leaders are convicted criminals who were sentenced to a jail term. The Zondo commission on state capture recommended that Mokonyane be investigated and prosecuted for corruption.

ANC delegates believed Lungisa was of such high calibre that he came in the top 10 people nominated as an NEC member. 

Had it not been for his suspension by the Eastern Cape provincial executive committee, Lungisa would have undoubtedly formed part of the NEC, the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences. It’s the same body that oversees the implementation of key policies.

Should Ramaphosa win, he is unlikely to escape the wrath of the newly elected NEC. He is facing some rough waters ahead, with state agencies investigating him and he has to lead a fractured ANC. 

Both Mkhize and Ramaphosa will have some work cut out for them if they want to win back the trust of the South African electorate.