Cape Town - Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has called on the ANC to expel any of its members implicated in - and proven guilty of - involvement in the Gupta leaks saga.
She urged the ANC’s policy conference to deal decisively with the problem of corruption and told Independent Media she expected those affected by the e-mails to be embarrassed.
Noting that several ministers had been fingered in the e-mails, she said they would have to be given the opportunity to explain themselves to the commission of inquiry or other investigating agencies, who would then have to pronounce on their guilt or otherwise.
At the conference over the weekend, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe revealed, in a diagnostic report examining the party’s health, the influence of the Gupta family on Africa’s oldest liberation movement.
Sisulu said: “If we find people guilty of corruption we must find a way to expel them. If you have been found guilty of such misdemeanour we must relieve you of your responsibility.”
She pointed out that in the past the ANC had not held back in expelling members found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute.
She said Bantu Holomisa had been expelled from the ANC in the 1990s. And the so-called Group of Eight had been expelled in the 1970s for sowing seeds of tribalism.
The commission of inquiry into state capture must be accepted by all implicated ministers and other ANC members involved in dealings with the Guptas, she said.
“My message to all of them is that it will be a good thing. It will clear the air. We, as the ANC, are suffering huge damage - a huge confidence deficit. The quicker this is dealt with, the better. The public out there wants to see this matter resolved,” said Sisulu.
“For us as the ANC, these accusations are too dire. They are too dire for the ANC and they are like a noose around our necks,” she said. “We are a decisive organisation. I don’t know why we are dilly-dallying.”
Sisulu also expressed her concern over President Jacob Zuma’s full-frontal attack on ANC veterans during his speech at the start of the planning conference.
She said it was unfortunate that an agreed-to meeting with the veterans did not take place as scheduled. Zuma launched a scathing attack on the veterans and questioned their loyalty and credibility.
Rivonia treason trialist Andrew Mlangeni left the stage after Zuma’s attack.
Sisulu said she was taken aback by the attack.
“In our policy documents we have always recognised the role of our veterans. I think the president repeated that in the speech. In a gathering like that, I did not think he would launch such an attack on the veterans.
“He is bigger than that and I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t hide it,” she said, adding that Zuma was at his most articulate when he spoke off-the-cuff, but it was unfortunate that he had responded in the manner he did.
She pointed out that Zuma had played a key role in negotiations in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1990s and in Burundi in the early 2000s where he had brokered peace deals.
“We are a very reconciliatory people. He, in particular, was sent to KwaZulu-Natal (to broker peace between the ANC and IFP) in the 1990s.”
She said the ANC was going into the 2019 elections limping, with the Gupta e-mail leaks not making it easy for them.
“We are all going to 2019 and the odds that confront us are enormous. The patience of the people has worn off. We need to find a way to revive the spirit of the ANC,” said Sisulu.
They had to regain the trust of the people following the release of the Gupta e-mails, she said.
The people were concerned about the alleged corruption in the ANC, she said, and the ANC had to deal with corruption decisively.
“Right now people are talking about ANC corruption. We need to confront it. If we don’t do something about it, we are taking away the morality the ANC has had,” Sisulu said.
“When we came into government in 1994, the world was in awe that there was the morality of the ANC. That is the morality that will win us 2019,” she said.