ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile lamented that journalists had seemed more interested in the party’s issues of ‘self-correction’ than on economic discussion outcomes of the special NEC media briefing on Monday.
Mashatile jokingly remarked that secretary general Ace Magashule convene another session with the hacks.
This he said, so they could get an opportunity to discuss other business that formed the deliberations of the organisation’s weekend long special NEC gathering.
The observation by Mashatile was undeniably spot on. Enquiries on what had been decided against comrades, cadres, leaders, civil servants, government officials implicated in covid-19 corruption dominated the briefing. Perhaps this was more than justifiably so.
Journalists would be doing the country, its citizens and the occupation a gross injustice had they focused on the ANC’s rhetorical pronouncements about turning around the economy than on the dinosaur of corruption casting a massive, ugly shadow over the country.
Reading from a prepared NEC statement ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa elaborated extensively on the party’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan.
The plan, he said, includes the implementation of a massive infrastructure investment programme, stimulation of local production and manufacturing and a public employment drive among others.
Ramaphosa said the NEC will convene a special lekgotla on the economic reconstruction and recovery programme after acknowledging that the measures taken thus far, including the R500 billion COVID-19 relief package were inadequate to deal with the challenges facing the country.
Anyone who has had the patience to listen to announcements after such meetings of the NEC would probably know most of this rhetoric on stimulating the economy by heart already.
Even before the covid-19 pandemic ruined the economy the ANC has just about continued making grand pronouncements about creating jobs and stimulating growth without much action.
It’s an old, tired script that has lost its meaning because of the lack of action. Hence it was the alleged ‘renewal of the ANC and the fight against corruption’ that dominated the media briefing.
What the journalists were probing the party’s top six about was no doubt a reflection of the concerns of a reasonably sizeable section of the republic’s population with regards to action against corruption and those perpetrating it.
Ramaphosa talked tough, speaking of drawing a clear line in the sand between the organisation and those who steal from the people. He said the NEC had agreed on decisive action to tackle corruption within the party and across society.
He went further to say that the NEC welcomed a report by the National Working Committee to collate information on the individuals within the organisation facing charges of corruption or other serious crimes.
“Cadres of the ANC who are formally charged for corruption or other serious crimes must immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, legislatures or other government structures pending the finalisation of their cases.”
In the middle of the covid-19 pandemic scandals involving ANC officials and its members in government have dominated the headlines for being implicated in corruption.
He went further to say that law enforcement agencies must leave no stone unturned in dealing with this corruption. Responding to whether the party could revoke the membership of errant members, Ramaphosa said there is such a mechanism in place set out in rule 25 of the ANC’s constitution.
The contentious issue of the power and effectiveness of the party’s Integrity Commission which has been viewed as a rather toothless watchdog of the party came under severe scrutiny.
Ramaphosa said the commission’s decisions should be binding but that the matter is still to be discussed. ANC deputy president David Mabuza is by far the most senior member to appear before the commission which is made up of veterans of the ANC.
Mabuza elaborated on his appearance before the commission, which he made after a dramatic episode in which he postponed his swearing in as the country’s deputy president to present himself before the party’s watchdog.
“It is in that regard that I was allowed to go back to parliament. I never insisted on going back. I was prepared to go the extra mile to deal with all issues raised by the integrity commission. So there should be no qualm to say we are undermining the integrity commission. As of now, the matter was concluded,” he said.
Still on corruption Ramaphosa said they are currently strengthening the National Prosecution Authority in order to deal with corruption. He warned that state security agencies should stay away from meddling in party political battles saying he had been a victim of such before.
Ramaphosa was referring to the time under Thabo Mbeki’s presidency when he, Tokyo Sexwale and Matthews Phosa were accused of being behind a plot to unseat the president by then minister of safety and security Steve Tshwete.
This was seen as a ploy to smear the trio politically and weaken their chances of launching a successful bid for the party’s president. Ramaphosa eventually took a sabbatical from politics to focus on his business interests.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)