News of establishing a Renewal Integrity Commission, announced by the ANC at its 53rd elective congress in Mangaung this week, has been met with cynicism by members of the public, who voiced their opinions on social media networks.
What particularly concerns South Africans is the fact that members of the party’s 80-member National Executive Council (NEC), which was announced on Thursday, will be responsible for establishing the commission and its guidelines.
The NEC has within its own structure, some controversial individuals who have been found guilty of serious breaches of the codes of conduct governing their roles in government.
The inclusion of Humphrey Mmemezi, Bheki Cele and Tony Yengeni, among others, raised more than a few eyebrows, with Twitter users saying it was pointless to have a corruption watchdog within the party, when the people who have to see to its success are themselves tainted.
Scepticism meets resolution
Mmemezi resigned in a huff as MEC for housing and local government in Gauteng in July, ahead of a pre-empted dismissal by Premier Nomvula Mokonyane. Among transgressions found by the premier against Mmemezi was a purchase – for R10 000 – of a painting at a McDonalds outlet, as well as his inability to report damage made to his official vehicle, among others. Mmemezi got 1 679 votes in Mangaung.
Cele’s highly publicised dismissal from his post as national police commissioner by President Jacob Zuma followed an investigation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. He was found to have acted in a corrupt manner, with a conflict of interest, in a lease agreement with businessman Roux Shabangu over two buildings for the South African Police Service in Pretoria and Durban. The then minister of public works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, was also implicated and subsequently fired by Zuma. Cele received 1 736 votes to secure his seat in the NEC.
Miriam Segabutla, the former MEC of health in Limpopo, was found to have “displayed improper conduct during her tenure”, revealed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in February this year. Segabutla was investigated by Madonsela after a complaint in 2010 of tender irregularities under her watch. She got 1 403 votes.
Another NEC member previously investigated by Madonsela was minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who spent over R150 000 to fly her two children and their nanny home from an overseas trip in early 2010. She was found to have violated the executive ethic code by Madonsela. It was recommended that she repay all the money to government. Joemat-Pettersson got 2 076 votes.
Makhura at the helm?
Although it is not yet clear who the members of the commission will be, it was ANC Gauteng secretary David Makhura who outlined the plans. Makhura also chairs the organisational renewal commission of the ANC.
Makhura spoke to the media on Wednesday, citing the recent court action brought against the ANC by two of its branches, the North West and the Free State, as an opportunity for it to refine its rules in discipline. He also said it is the commission that will decide, in future, on what qualifies an individual to become a member of the ruling party.
From existing members who are also office bearers, the commission will require a declaration of their financial interests within three months of taking office.
“Commissions will be able to hold disciplinary hearings, but we hope members will make it easy for the ANC by resigning or stepping aside if there are serious allegations of corruption,” Makhura said, adding that the ANC wants to keep members accountable to the laws of the land.
Some of the tweets in reaction to the commission:
@jackbloomDA: David Makhura pushes ANC integrity commission, but Humphrey Mmemezi is his deputy in Gauteng!
@BruceRelates : Axed police chief and crony Bheki Cele back in the NEC. Will the hyped 'commission of integrity' take a look? No chance.
@angelo2711: Do all SA politicians suffer from long term memory loss? #integrityCommission
@kaysexwale: There has to be integrity in the "leadership" first.
@papa_action: ANC integrity commission < Bheki Cele and Humphries Mmemezi on the NEC