Mondli Makhanya
5 minute read
19 Apr 2021

Opinion | Why ANC can’t fight corruption

Mondli Makhanya

If you harboured the remotest hope that South Africa would make strides in curbing the culture of corruption while the current iteration of the ANC is in power, then the governing party’s chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, would have surely put paid to that this week.

If you harboured the remotest hope that South Africa would make strides in curbing the culture of corruption while the current iteration of the ANC is in power, then the governing party’s chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, would have surely put paid to that this week.

When the gruff and grizzly one appeared before the Zondo commission this week, he revealed exactly why, for almost a decade, the ANC had allowed a family of dyed-in-the wool crooks to take over the country and defecate on our national dignity.

Quite striking about Mantashe’s testimony, which covered the period during which he was secretary-general of the ANC and in which he played a pivotal role in protecting Jacob Zuma from accountability, was his feigning ignorance about how dire the situation was under the dirtiest and most morally bankrupt president that democratic South Africa is likely to ever have.

Elected alongside Zuma at the ANC’s conference in Polokwane in 2007, Mantashe played a pivotal role in entrenching the already corrupt Zuma in power and helping him maintain his grip even as it was clear to the dumbest person in the land that he and his friends were robbing us blind.

This week, Mantashe thought he was successfully pulling the wool over our eyes when he said that the ANC supported the Guptas’ establishment of The New Age newspaper (which suckled greedily on the public purse) because they wanted diversity in the media space.

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He claimed that the party knew nothing about the Guptas’ other businesses and only became aware of the dirtiness of the family in 2013, when they commandeered Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria to land their wedding guests and got a police convoy to escort them to Sun City in North West for the wedding. “What we know today, we didn’t know then,” he said.

So the secretary-general of the ANC didn’t know that the family had been feeding and clothing the children of his president when he was in limbo following his dismissal from the deputy presidency? He did not know that they were contributing to the man’s upkeep during that time? A very wise investment, it would later turn out.

He did not know that they were peddling influence, trying to get government departments to buy their fake computers and IT systems?

He didn’t know that, when Zuma got into office, they were already working hard behind the scenes to influence government decisions, including Cabinet posts and senior appointments at state-owned enterprises (SOEs)?

He didn’t know that they connived to steal one of the country’s most strategic mining assets, using their connections? He didn’t know that they were strong-arming senior civil servants, with the consent and support of the president of the republic and the governing party?


Mantashe then astonishingly stated that it was individuals, not the ANC, who may have been captured by the Guptas.

“If any individual leaders of the ANC have found it comfortable to be captured by the Guptas, those individuals were captured by the Guptas and not the ANC. There were stories around about individual leaders having been captured,” he gruffed into the microphone.

Wellllllll, Mr Mantashe, let us unpack that one. The main captured individual who felt “comfortable to be captured by the Guptas” was none other than the president of the republic, who you served with in the top six.

You know, the person who, like, runs the whole country. The one who appoints the Cabinet and directors-general of departments; has final approval of SOE boards and senior executives; signs off on all the big stuff that the country must do; and can basically order everybody around. Yes, exactly.

What’s more, he is the guy who ran the governing party and could deploy and fire senior party members from lucrative positions at will.

He is the guy who, using his power, could sway the national executive committee, the parliamentary caucus and other structures his way.

And so, Mr Mantashe, based on this man being “comfortable to be captured by the Guptas”, other senior, mid-level and even junior operatives of the party also felt comfortable about being captured and doing the bidding of the Guptas. Among them were a whole host of ministers who could make things happen for the Guptas, including one who is known to enjoy pleasuring himself.

Mantashe, who clearly lives in some alternative world, went on to state that “with all the allegations against Jacob Zuma, he had two terms”, and “as the secretary-general at the time, I regard the first term as successful”.

“But to credit Zuma with the roll-out of the anti-HIV/Aids programme is a huge fallacy.”
Mondli Makhanya

One of “a number of positive changes” that Zuma made was splitting education into tertiary and basic, and “introducing the HIV programme in the state, which was very aggressive”.

We won’t quibble with the education one, although some who are watching the chaos on our campuses will ask what it has actually achieved, aside from swelling the numbers of students on campuses who then get spat out into the economy that Zuma wrecked.

That programme was introduced in 2003 during the presidency of the denialist Thabo Mbeki — against his will. That is, however, a topic for another day.

But it was Mantashe’s ANC-at-all-costs line that showed that we are on a hiding to nothing when it comes to fighting corruption.

Defending his bullying of ANC parliamentarians into opposing the votes of no-confidence in Zuma at the height of state capture and presidential corruption, Mantashe argued that such a move would have been “a dangerous option … a fatal option” for the party.

“It will be a huge call for any ANC member to destroy the ANC because he thinks it’s in the interest of the county.”

Nuff said.