ANC's integrity commission comes under fire
The commission is meant to hold party leaders, including those deployed into government, accountable for their alleged wrongdoings.
Prior to the swearing in of new MPs, the commission red-flagged 23 leaders, including party deputy president David Mabuza, who said he had to postpone his swearing-in to clear his name.
Other people who had to appear before the commission were former ministers such as Bathabile Dlamini, Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane, Mosebenzi Zwane and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe.
Among those aggrieved by the decisions of the commission is eThekwini ANC Youth League spokesperson Thulisa Ndlela. He cited the non-appearance of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as an example of bias.
“While Malusi Gigaba and David Mabuza were called, no action has been taken against Pravin. There is no reason why he should not be called, after revelations about him,” said Ndlela.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane recently released a report, which found Gordhan guilty of illegally approving a pension payout for former Sars boss Ivan Pillay.
Gordhan filed papers at the Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, this week, asking it to set aside the report issued by the public protector, in which she recommended that remedial action be taken against him.
Mkhwebane released her report in which she directed President Cyril Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Gordhan for granting former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay early retirement in August 2010.
Gordhan wants the court to declare that the public protector failed to comply with her duties under the Public Protector Act and the Constitution.
Other reports by the public protector, including the Vrede Dairy matter, have been called into question.
It was claimed that more than R220 million was poured into the project, while only R2m was spent on the actual farm.
This report was declared by the court to be unconstitutional and invalid earlier in May.
“The commission should not ignore others and call others before it,” said Ndlela.
He said the commission, which was formed through the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec resolutions, was necessary to hold party leaders accountable.
Former president Jacob Zuma was among those who had been summoned by the commission.
Although Ramaphosa had been named in the state capture commission as having benefited from Bosasa, there were no reports that he had been called to account.
Another KwaZulu-Natal based leader, who is an MPL, have credit to the commission with the dismissal of six North West province ANC mayors involved in a scandal that collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.
“It is working because those people were dismissed based on the commission’s recommendations to the NEC (national executive committee),” said the leader, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the press. However, the leader said in other cases, the commission’s recommendations had been ignored by the NEC.
“Their decisions are subject to the NEC and they are not final. It can only make recommendations that could be implemented or rejected,” said the leader.
He said the commission should have provincial structures, but he said in KwaZulu-Natal, these seem to have disappeared.
The province had a number of leaders whose integrity had been compromised such as Newcastle mayor Nthuhuko Mahlaba, who is appearing in court for the murder of an ANCYL leader, as well as eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and ANC provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu who are facing separate charges of fraud and corruption.
“I have even forgotten who led it in the province,” said the MPL.
Another MPL denied the commission ever existed in the province.
When asked to respond to the criticism of the commission its chairperson, George Mashamba, said people were entitled to their opinions.
“We are living in a democratic society and people have freedom of thought. Some people say it is okay, and some say it is not okay.
“Commentators have a right to say whatever they want to say and we are not in the business of trying to defend ourselves,” said Mashamba.
Political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu said the commission existed only in theory.
“The NEC should be blamed for the commission’s ineffectiveness because the NEC has powers to implement. If the commission had challenges when it comes to its functioning, the NEC should relook at the terms of reference so that it can take effective decisions.”
NEC member Dakota Legoete said the commission had summoned many ANC leaders to appear before it, aside from those who are on the recent list.
“Most of its jobs have not been published, but there are many who have been called to step aside by the integrity commission. There are another 15 comrades who have appeared before it,” he said.
He said the commission was meant to deal with questionable morality, ethics and integrity. He said society should not expect the commission to bite. “If you are to talk the language of bite, it is the court that needs to do that.
The integrity commission is the sub-committee of the ANC, established through the constitution of the ANC.
“Its recommendation goes to the top six, the national working committee and to the NEC,” said Legoete.
He said it was compulsory for provinces to have their own integrity commissions: “In the last NEC, we had integrity commissions in all provinces, but right now, the commissions are not effective.
"The most effective commission is the national one.”
He said it was up to the provincial executive committees to revive the commissions.
“It is actually compulsory for them to have integrity commissions to deal with the issues on a daily basis.
“As we are preparing for the local government elections, lots of stories are going to come up about our mayors and councillors.
herefore, provinces must have the commissions so that they deal with the issues when they come because our people have told us to act against corruption,” said Legoete.
“The commission’s investigations were mostly based on media reports. Media reports are among what the commission uses as part of their investigation because some of the investigated stories are not actually untrue.
“Media institutions assist the integrity commission to act against members of the ANC who are alleged to be perpetrators of some of the wrongdoing. We cannot undermine the sources of the media,” said Legoete.