/ 7 December 2023

Citing its tolerance for corruption, Mavuso Msimang resigns from ANC

Former Housing Development Agency board chairperson Mavuso Msimang says his warnings to Human Settlements Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo were repeatedly ignored.
ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

One of the ANC’s most senior leaders has terminated his membership via a scathing letter to the party that was leaked to social media on Wednesday evening. 

Mavuso Msimang  – who once endorsed and campaigned for President Cyril Ramaphosa during his first term and was also instrumental in the downfall of former president Jacob Zuma as part of the 101 Elders – criticised the ANC as having enabled corruption and of being led by corrupt individuals. 

A party member for 60 years, Msimang was recently elected as the Veterans League deputy president. 

His blistering indictment of the ANC’s leadership is set to send the party’s already damaged reputation to the gutters. 

Just hours before Msimang’s resignation letter was made public, ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula said during a press briefing that its veterans were “attacking” the leadership “on a daily basis”. He reiterated the call from his personal X account, saying the veterans should stop “de-campaigning” the organisation.  

The governing party has also been severely criticised by one of its most recognisable leaders in the form of Thabo Mbeki, who has been vocal about the Ramaphosa-led national executive committee failing to live up to its resolutions about party renewal.

In his four-page letter, signed 6 December, Msimang said the ANC’s track record of corruption was “a cause of great shame”, given that it once held the “moral high ground” when it took over government in 1994.

He said that the corruption the party once decried was now part of its DNA, which had “dire consequences for the most vulnerable members of our society”. 

“As ANC leaders publicly proclaim ownership of obscenely wealthy homesteads and other possessions and send their children to the best schools in the land, there are still many South Africans whose children continue to be exposed to the risk of dropping into pit latrines in poorly equipped public schools and dying horrendous and humiliating deaths. There are children in rural areas who miss classes when streams and rivers are in flood because there are no bridges,” said Msimang. 

He also highlighted some of the ANC’s most visible service delivery failures, such as the health system and dilapidated public infrastructure. 

He said the environment for business in South Africa was “entirely disabling”, which had led to companies “failing, downsizing or simply deciding not to invest anymore in our country”, as thousands of jobs were being lost and unemployment soaring. 

State power utility Eskom had been “brought to its knees by high-level corruption and sabotage”, he said, literally leaving the nation powerless. 

“Transnet’s mismanagement has derailed its freight haulage system. In consequence, road transporters who have stepped into the breach sometimes have to wait in 40 km-long queues, while belching noxious gases into the atmosphere, because ports are congested.” 

“The resulting demurrage charges are inevitably, ultimately borne by the consumer. And the worst may yet happen: ships simply avoiding our ports and discharging their cargo in better-run ports elsewhere. The litany of economic and social woes – crime,  unemployment, destitution – associated with my beloved African National Congress is not only embarrassing, but also defies enumeration.”

Msimang said that he had spoken out for over a decade, with others, about corruption “and its harmful by-products of nepotism and incompetence”. 

“The response of the leadership to this constructive censure has, at best, been a shoulder shrug and a promise to do something about it; at worst those who seek change by raising voices endure slurs, or are met with downright hostility.”

He also took on the ANC’s failure to self correct, saying that its own pollsters have warned it is falling significantly short of securing an outright victory in the 2024 elections. 

“This dramatic decline in the organisation’s popularity is attributable to widely held perceptions that its members and deployees are corrupt, that the organisation has a high tolerance threshold for venality, and that the deployment of unsuitable people accounts for the government’s deplorable levels of service to the public.” 

To address these perceptions, he said, the Veterans League urged ANC leadership “to ensure that members who have been accused of criminality or recommended for referral to criminal justice institutions by commissions set up to investigate corruption, should not be allowed to continue in office”. 

“The Veterans League specifically recommended that such individuals be considered ineligible for nomination to represent the ANC in the 2024 national and provincial elections. Unfortunately, the ANC NEC has shown no urgency to deal with this matter,” Msimang said.

Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala on Wednesday evening confirmed Msimang’s resignation, saying it was regrettable.  

He said that the league would continue to raise issues of corruption internally.

“Further, we will continue to engage at provincial and national levels in the list processes to take a stand against individuals who are implicated in corrupt activities including those fingered by the Zondo Commission being part of election lists for provincial and national legislatures. 

“We reject the allegation that by doing this, we are undermining the ANC. We believe this is the only path to renew the ANC and restore the legitimacy of the ANC in the eyes of the people.  

“We continue to believe that the ANC is the only organisation that can best take forward the interests of the poor and is committed to our constitutional democracy including the Bill of Rights and the rule of law,” he said, adding that the league remained committed to bringing back the integrity and dignity of the organisation and winning the coming elections.