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Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Sunday warned ANC cadres to guard against corruption and being “caught with hands in the till”.
He was speaking to ANC members at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus at their graduation from the party’s political school.
In the audience was disgraced former Gauteng local government and housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi.
He had been forced to relinquish his post as MEC after being found guilty of crashing a state vehicle and then abusing his official credit card to buy everything from an artwork at a fast-food joint to clothing on an overseas trip.
Mmemezi was initially seen moving his hands to applaud with all the other delegates, then changed his mind and quickly put them in his lap.
“While we need to survive as individuals, meaning access to jobs and living a comfortable life, we must also be sensitive to the ascendant culture of material acquisitiveness and loose morals,” said Motlanthe.
“As cadres of the movement, we should not be caught with our fingers in the till. It gives the ANC a bad name and depicts it as an organisation overrun with greed, corruption, venality and loose morals.”
Motlanthe urged the graduates to adopt the spirit of the late Walter Sisulu, after whom the leadership academy is named.
“Comrade Walter Sisulu personified integrity, dignity and respect and carried himself in a manner that was above reproach.
“He was humble and ever willing to serve his movement and his people to the point of sacrificing most of his active years for prison in the name of human freedom.
“Our struggle gained the respect that it did here and abroad precisely because it was led by men and women of vision, of impeccable moral standing and of superior political intellect,” the deputy president said.
“Political education is meant to produce a certain type of thinker who will impact on society accordingly.
“The aims of political education are therefore not mere abstractions developed in a vacuum, out of keeping with the historical context of society.
“The aims of political education such as the one you have just received are about producing a cadre who is geared to play a particular role in advancing the interests of society,” Motlanthe told the assembly.
The ANC academy – aimed at “producing a certain type of thinker who will impact on society accordingly” – celebrated about 600 cadres on Sunday.
Women appeared to be the biggest achievers “academically”.
Having obtained an 80 percent pass, 48-year-old Jacqueline Nkhoma said she had “learnt a lot about South African history, the ANC history and how to stand for myself as a woman”.
Nomelo Chiume, 23, said the one-year course had groomed him “in terms of understanding people, how to resolve problems and conflict within branches, to build unity and to avoid criticising other members”.