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By Bernice Maune
Ramaphosa penned the letter almost two weeks ago and in it, took the ruling party to task over looting and wasteful expenditure. The ANC has been plagued by allegations of corruption since rising to power, with former President Jacob Zuma’s ten-year term characterised by bribery and state capture allegations as government officials were given luxury gifts and cash to supply contracts to the wealthy Gupta family.
“The progress that our nation has made in improving the lives of our people in the last quarter-century is being eroded by corruption and patronage.
The ANC is the movement that was so central to mobilising our people for the achievement of our freedom. It has also led the government that has brought peace, development and transformation to our society. It is a matter of great concern to us that corruption has so deeply infected the state, the business community and society to a point of threatening to undo the gains we have made in the last 26 years,” wrote Ramaphosa.
According to Silke, Ramaphosa has shown his more decisive side to the ANC and his popularity has been boosted by the letter.
“My short term view is that there are many within the ANC that want to at least see the president lead. And I think there has been frustration that he has either been slow in leading or reluctant or perhaps his style of governance is being more consensual than an adversarial.
“And I think for many within the ANC, and one mustn’t just assume that there is complete rot. I think there are many who are very upset within the party as to the decline in ethics, in governance. They are quite happy with this move from Ramaphosa. They see the certainty as some sort of a line in the sand that has been drawn,” he said.
However, Silke states there are many who do not support the statesman’s leadership style and are opposed to his speaking out on corruption.
“If Ramaphosa is able to drive this process over the next few months, it’s going to ultimately upend any kind of temporary relief for him. If by Christmas we still don’t have any major prosecutions or suspensions well, he’ll again, be a focus of attention. So time is of the essence for Ramaphosa to capitalise on what has been a relatively strong moment for him as a result of the letter,” said Silke.
Former Ethekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede was elected to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in August. Her appointment was soon overturned as public outrage forced the ANC to set aside her post and address her eligibility. Gumede is facing corruption charges over tender fraud amounting to R208m. The ANC then announced that it would require members to declare their interests and resign from government positions. An integrity commission has been set up to deal with members who are effectively ‘double-dealing’ and serving in government while doing business with the state.
Silke says he is not convinced the Integrity Commission is going to have all its aspects in place in order to deal with the myriad of issues.
“You know, when you look at the broader issue of the inability or at least see the delays of the NPA to address some of the related issues, to expect the Integrity Commission itself to have even remotely similar teeth, of course, is somewhat naive.
“And that Integrity Commission has already called for a beefing up of its own internal workings. So I do think that you know, the fundamental issue to me is really whether that’s the answer to the ANC’s questions in terms of rectifying the ship of rotten corruption or whether we do need some sort of alternative here.”
In Silke’s view, the legal system is better enabled to handle all the corruption cases that ANC members are facing as internal processes could be subject to manipulation.
“I myself would rather see allegations of corrupt activity work its way through the courts, through our legal system, because I’m just fundamentally sceptical about the internal party process that firstly can be manipulated and secondly can be obfuscated.
“We’ve seen many within the ANC, particularly former President Zuma, obfuscate his own position over the course of many years. So I do think that we need a much more focussed view on corruption itself. And I’m not sure whether a political party, particularly one under extreme pressure on this issue, can be both referee and jury on these matters,” said Silke.
Watch the full webinar with political analysts Daniel Silke, Judith February and Professor Tinyiko Maluleke below.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.