Johannesburg - Opposition party leaders took a dig at the ANC and President Jacob Zuma on Thursday over the security upgrades to his private Nkandla home.
The decline began when former president Nelson Mandela left the political stage, Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele told the Daily Maverick Gathering Conference at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.
The decline was slow, almost unobtrusive, and then stepped in Zuma, she said to giggles from the audience.
“Our struggle now is against old enemies, the tyranny of impunity, corruption, refusal of accountability. We have a president saying 'I didn't ask for what is happening at my homestead and so I owe nothing', that is the extent of impunity we are dealing with,” Ramphele said.
“It is theft from those who stood to gain from freedom that so many died fighting for.”
She was referring to the R246 million security upgrades to Zuma's private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
Last month Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found, among other things, Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the upgrades.
The Agang SA leader said standing back was not an option for her when this was happening.
There were many African National Congress stalwarts who were mourning the loss of their party. Ramphele referred to Ronnie Kasrils and Trevor Manuel.
“The ANC now is in the death grip of a corrupt, greedy anarchy. People that don't actually see that they are destroying this beautiful country and its resources. This country bows and scrapes for one man, who is called number one.”
Ramphele said the obsession with Zuma was within the ANC.
“They are the people obsessed with Zuma, they were prepared to kill for him.”
With only a few weeks to go until the May 7 general elections no one in the world would be contemplating that a party like the ANC would return to power.
However, citizens were not holding government accountable, Ramphele said.
“There is something critically wrong with our democracy. Something fundamental needs to happen.”
Ramphele said, like apartheid, she would fight the ANC government.
“We will move this giant, just as we moved apartheid. It's a just and a right fight,” she said.
A number of political leaders attended the gathering, which was the election edition.
Those present included Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, ANC head of elections Malusi Gigaba, and Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Zille said it was irrelevant who was leading the ANC, but Zuma demonstrated “graphically” what had become of the ruling party.
“It sees politics as internal struggle for power to be able to dispense patronage and poor cadres, and whoever leads it is going to be inserted into a system with that value set.
“The critical thing about the ANC... is that it sees the state as the driver of the economy and determinant of whether people get jobs.”
The DA believed the state played a facilitative role and when it did its job properly it created an environment for investment and created jobs.
When asked what the appropriate reaction should have been from the public to the money spent on the Nkandla upgrades and the ANC, Gigaba said he could not determine for anyone how they should react.
“I can only speak about how the ANC reacts to it. Whether the Nkandla prices inflation happened or did not... the people who don't like the ANC will remain not liking it,” he said.
“The way the ANC reacts is by saying yes we support the investigation by the public protector, we support the investigation by the interministerial committee, we eagerly await the finalisation of the investigation of the Special Investigative Unit.”
Gigaba said the corruption which resulted in the cost of the project escalating was unacceptable and there were people who needed to be accountable and action needed to be taken.
He said government systems needed to be tightened so that this did not happen again.
Gigaba said the hostility to the ANC was independent of the Nkandla report, but it was a trigger.
“The ANC itself, the president himself, are unhappy about the escalation of the cost of this project.”