Cyril can’t risk cleaning house, because ANC NEC is a haven for the shady

It would be hard for Ramaphosa to clean house, with more than half the ANC NEC facing serious graft allegations, and only 8 being spotless.

Should President Cyril Ramaphosa decide to rid his cabinet of all officials and ANC NEC members who are implicated in corruption allegations, it would most likely represent a tipping point in favour of the coalition of the corrupt, who appear to be in the majority in the governing party’s benches.

The light at the end of the dark tunnel of corruption in government seems almost out of sight, with the ANC’s top figures limping from one scandal to another.

This makes the job of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is facing increased calls for a cabinet reshuffle in order to clear the house of the corrupt and inefficient, particularly hard, since there are few hands in the party not considered tainted.

Only eight NEC members are spotless

Among the ANC heavyweights who still have to account for the allegations against them, the most prominent are former President Jacob Zuma, who faces corruption charges for the arms deal case, suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, who returns to court this month on his own corruption charges, and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize who has most recently been implicated in a multimillion-rand tender saga involving his close associates at media company Digital Vibes.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) estimated last year that 41 out of the 80 elected members of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) were implicated in serious incidents of corruption.

IRR head of policy research Anthea Jeffery said eight NEC members have not been implicated at all, while it was difficult to assess the remainder.

“Contrary to public perception, the 41 who have been linked to corruption are split between the Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa camps, not confined to the former,” said Jeffery.

While eyes were on Ramaphosa to make a decision on the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) findings into Mkhize’s involvement into the multimillion-rant tender to communications company Digital Vibes, his next move could be a tipping point for the ANC, said political analyst Andre Duvenhage.

Ramaphosa taking action could lead to coalition of the corrupt

“What can one do? At one point, there will be a tipping point in favour of the coalition of the corrupt. Then they will be the majority and Ramaphosa will be in trouble,” Duvenhage mused.

“Gwede Mantashe’s name is also on the cards. Can you think if he loses Mkhize, [Bheki] Cele and Mantashe, and on the other side is the Zumas, the Aces [Magashule], the Supras [Mahumapelo], the guys from the Western Cape, Tony Yengeni? Then it will become a difficult scenario which will lead up the ANC national conference.”

Ramaphosa has to clean up his party and cabinet though, regardless of the backlash, as this is what South Africans expect of him, said political analyst Levy Ndou.

“The President has to clean up corruption, whether members of the ANC would be angry or whether he is going to have many enemies. The opposition parties like the DA, the EFF, UDM are worried about corruption, including the majority of the citizens and some members of the ANC.

“If you fire a person who is corrupt from cabinet, you are actually doing exactly what is expected of you because South Africans in general do not love corruption,” said Ndou.

Scandalous MPs – Where are they now?

Ramaphosa has declared several times that he would root out corruption, but looking at the ANC NEC and national legislature, it appears some Members of Parliament who have been rocked by corruption and misconduct scandals have made their way back, with some even chairing parliamentary portfolio committees.

Here is just a small selection of those who have yet to account for allegations against them:

Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi
02 July 2019, CAPE TOWN, Faith Muthambi, new chairperson of the portfolio committee for Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs. Photo: Adrian de Kock/ Gallo images

Faith Muthambi faced a few scandals during her tenure as cabinet in Minister.

In 2017, the minister of public service and administration was accused of nepotism for allegedly having hired 27 support staff to her office without following due processes. This wouldn’t have raised as many eyebrows, if not for the allegations that the staff were allegedly uncles and cousins from her home province Limpopo.

Following a probe by the Public Service Commission, it was in 2019 found that Muthambi did not adhere to all the regulatory prescripts during the appointment of the staff members.

She made headlines again when a 2018 commission of inquiry into the SABC found that as minister of communications, Muthambi and former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala interfered in decision-making in the broadcaster’s newsrooms. She also allegedly misled parliament by lying about it, which is a contravention of parliament’s ethics rules.

Also Read: Ex-minister Faith Muthambi may be fired as MP

The DA opened a criminal case against her for misleading parliament, contravening the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act which establishes SABC as an independent institution.

Where is she now?

Muthambi did not make the cut when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his current cabinet in 2018. However, despite Muthambi having previously misled Parliament, she remained an ANC MP and is now chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Vincent Smith

Vincent Smith restraint order
Former ANC MP Vincent Smith. Picture: Twitter/@AdvoBarryRoux

Vincent Smith has served as an ANC MP for 20 years, chairing the Parliamentary portfolio committee on correctional services from 2009 to 2014.

During that period, the correctional services department contracted a R838 million catering deal with the controversial Bosasa Group.

Bosasa whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi fingered Smith for receiving nearly R800 000 from the company. While Smith has confirmed to receiving such payments, he denied that they were bribes.

Also Read: High court confirms R46m restraint order against ex-ANC MP Vincent Smith

Where is he now?

Following the allegations, Smith stepped down as chairperson of three parliamentary committees and proceeded to hand himself over to the police in October 2020.

Smith and his company Euroblitz 48, the second accused, each face a corruption charge while the former MP also faces a count of fraud.

Angelo Agrizzi and Vincent Smith
Former Bosasa chief operating office Angelo Agrizzi and former ANC MP Vincent Smith in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg. Picture: Twitter / @samkelemaseko

On Monday, the Johannesburg High Court confirmed a restraint order to freeze R46 million worth of assets belonging to Smith and his company. This followed an interim restraint order by the National Prosecuting Authority in February, which also extended to the daughter of the former MP, Brumilda Smith.

Smith said in his bail hearing last year that he was now a pensioner, living off a gross monthly income of R21 000. He was released on R30 000 bail.

Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Tina Joematt-Pettersson
02 July 2019, CAPE TOWN, Tina Joemat-Peterson, (Political figure) – new chairperson of the portfolio committee for Police. Photo: Adrian de Kock/Gallo Images

As energy minister, Tina Joematt-Pettersson allegedly approved a 2015 deal for the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) to sell 10.3 million barrels of the country’s oil reserves at a discounted rate. Joematt-Petterson told Parliament that it was not a sale but simply a rotation of the stock.

This despite no new stock having been purchased.

Joematt-Pettersson was axed as energy minister in 2017 during a cabinet reshuffle and was replaced by Mmamoloko Kubayi.

Where is she now?

Joematt-Pettersson was acquitted by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in 2020, in the latter’s findings into the fuel stocks saga.

Mkhwebane found that the former energy minister was unaware of the sale and was misled by former SFF acting CEO Sibusiso Gamede.

Joematt-Petterson returned to Parliament after the 2019 general elections, where she chaired the Portfolio Committee on Police and as of April 2021, she became a member of the Adhoc Committee on Section 194 Enquiry which is set to determine whether Mkhwebane should be removed from office or not.

Zweli Mkhize

Zweli Mkhize, ANC NEC member and Health Minister
Zweli Mkhize should do the honorable thing and resign, instead of forcing the president’s hand to fire him, say analysts. (Photo by Gallo Images/Phill Makagoe)

While health minister Zweli Mkhize was navigating the country through multiple waves of Covid-19 infections, he was also found to have benefited from a multimillion-Rand tender, awarded to Digital Vibes – a communications company owned by his close associate Tahera Mather.

ALSO READ: Mkhize’s fall from grace spectacularly shocking

The Special Investigating Unit listed 20 people, including the minister and his son, for receiving around R90 million from the R150 million deal. The SIU affidavit is now sitting with the Special Tribunal after its submission last week., while Ramaphosa is expected to rule on Mkhize’s fate in cabinet.

Where is he now?

Mkhize was placed on special leave by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June, following allegations of his involvement in the awarding of the Digital Vibes contract.

While Mkhize distanced himself from the allegations and denied having any conflict of interest, the SIU found that Mkhize’s son Dedani allegedly received money from Digital Vibes director Radha Hariram and accused the Minister of improper conduct for his role.

While there was still no word from Ramaphosa on the matter, the Mail & Guardian reported on Wednesday that the ANC’s integrity committee recommended that Mkhize step aside.