Our zero this week is the government, for not living up to claims of fighting corruption. This week it appointed a new mayoral committee member in Madibeng municipality – and he was previously one of the guilty parties in the Travelgate scandal of 2006/2006. The thieves – MPs and travel agents – ran a scam involving fraudulent travel arrangements and allowances, stealing millions from the government and the taxpayer.
In its new manifesto, the ANC states emphatically that if its members in leadership positions are found guilty of corruption, they must be removed from office. The manifesto commits the ruling party to “require any ANC member or ANC public representative found guilty by a court of law to step down from any leadership positions in the ANC, government and society”.
In 2006 Douglas Maimane was one of 20 MPs or former members who appeared in court in connection with the parliamentary travel scandal.
Before the trial got under way he struck a plea bargain with the state – he pleaded guilty to helping defraud South Africans of some R18-million. In return he was fined R25 000 or three years in prison, plus a suspended jail term of five years. He was allowed to pay his fine in 10 instalments.
Now Maimane has been elected as the new speaker in the embattled Madibeng local council, where residents are protesting against poor service delivery and claiming that the municipal management is corrupt. The municipality is part of the North West province, whose premier Thandi Modise recently took delivery of a luxury car of over a million rands. Madibeng means "the place of water", but its residents are getting none.
Maimane's predecessor Buti Makhongela, implicated in municipal management’s refusal to implement anti-corruption measures or follow up on the unexplained disappearance of large sums of money, was indeed forced to resign, along with the mayor and the chief whip. But Makhongela’s successor is far from clean, and his appointment has raised eyebrows.
There is no legal impediment to electing him as a councillor, said Professor Jaap de Visser, a legal expert from the University of Western Cape, but his appointment doesn't correspond to the fight against corruption which the ANC is claiming to wage.
"As a political party, if you struggle to find people without these kinds of records, it means your pool [of cadres] is too thin," De Visser said in a newspaper report.