Deeply sullied ANC bets on historical voter allegiance

CAPE TOWN — It’s one thing for President Cyril Ramaphosa to urge patience on those who in increasing numbers clamour for some king of criminal action against senior party members fingered by commission whistle-blowers. It’s quite another for him to dodge accusations that he’s in effect buying time for the alleged miscreants that now dot his party like a near-terminal case of chicken pox. Here Errol Horwitz suggests an interim report on State Capture by Judge Zondo to enable Ramaphosa to act faster. What Ramaphosa has done is to ask us all to wait until the judicial commissions make their findings – which could take years – certainly not within the next three months to national elections. Tactics demand that he avoids alienating too many Zuptoids before elections – in the interests of party unity. Party self-preservation will always beat running repairs to the economy. He’s banking on the global investment community buying his promissory note whose collateral stands on each commission he’s appointed plus the clean-up of, among others, SOEs, the NPA and the PIC. Doing the right thing asap doesn’t count in politics. Using the stepping stone of deep, almost blind, historical party allegiance by most ANC voters is a safer bet. – Chris Bateman

By Errol Horwitz*

The ANC is ineluctably on trial before the Zondo Commission despite acting ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa’s attempts to distance the ANC from Angelo Agrizzi’s fire and brimstone testimony before the commission. He has also recently indicated that the ANC will not take action against those ANC members fingered by Angelo Agrizzi’s uncorroborated testimony of their involvement in grand scale corruption.

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule also added his voice in rejecting the need for implicated comrades to fall on their swords simply because the commission is not a court of law. So, according to Magashule “Why should someone step down? While Magashule correctly points out that the commission is not a court of law, he conveniently ignores the fact that in the court of public opinion the ANC is inexorably on trial before the commission.

The person thus far responsible for putting the ANC on trial is the commission’s witness, Angelo Agrizzi. An unsavoury character, replete with the characteristics of a real-life consigliere of the Sicilian, Calabrian and American Mafia, but with a South African accent. Presently there is little to poke holes in Agrizzi’s testimony. He was astute enough to recognise that Bosasa’s walls were made of clay, and would crumble under the ever-increasing weight in feeding corrupt miscreants at the trough. With that in mind he laid the groundwork of a credible whistleblower, by taking contemporaneous notes of meetings, conversations and the like, including a wealth of documentation to underscore the veracity of his future whistleblowing testimony. Moreover, Agrizzi comported himself with an air of credibility and confidence on the witness stand. It will not be an easy task to impeach his testimony, despite efforts to show his testimony before the commission was motivated by racism, and therefore not credible – a classic example of a red herring in the context of Agrizzi’s damning testimony.

The commission is charged with completing its work within two years. Despite Agrizzi’s compelling testimony President Ramaphosa, when interviewed at the WEF, was aware that South Africans wanted action “right now”, but called for patience until all judicial commissions had completed their work – more than likely to the sheer delight of Luthuli House and those implicated in corruption.

South Africa during the Zuma years was run as a criminal enterprise allowing the plundering of billions of rands from South Africa’s fiscus with Zuma’s tacit approval, aided and abetted by the Hawks and the NPA. South Africans had some understanding from investigative reporting of the scope of looting orchestrated by members of the Gupta family and their co-conspirators. The testimony given at the Zondo commission, and notably Agrizzi’s testimony, has highlighted how widespread the looting was, and how inexorably compromised state institutions became.

Law enforcement’s deliberate inaction, apathy and ineptness in pursuing the Gupta family and their co-conspirators to the fullest extent of the law may likewise be a repetition for those implicated in the Zondo Commission -deliberate inaction, apathy and ineptness resulting in no prosecution, no prison and no recovery of billions of taxpayer money.

The government cannot be seen to be sitting on its hands during the inquiry process. There is no bar to Deputy Chief Justice Zondo issuing a preliminary report akin to the Nugent Commission’s preliminary report that triggered the firing of Tom Moyane. It would give the President the means to fire or suspend ministers and officials implicated by Agrizzi and others testifying before the commission.

South Africa has the Sword of Damocles hanging over its head – a precarious situation due to a weak economy, and a reputation for being a highly corrupt country. The two are interwoven: by excising the rot of corruption to its core, the economy will grow through good governance and direct foreign investment. Until then the country will remain between a rock and a hard place.

  • Errol Horwitz was a political activist in the 60’s, and returned to South Africa a few years ago, after residing abroad for more than three decades.