Public losing faith in ANC's resolve to hold corrupt leaders accountable
Pheto Walter Matshwi
Pretoria - Guatemalan Nobel Peace laureate, indigenous feminist and human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú once said: “Without strong watchdog institutions, impunity becomes the very foundation upon which systems of corruption are built. And if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to bring an end to corruption are in vain.”
Following the ANC’s resolution to establish an integrity commission at its 53rd elective congress in Mangaung, I still remember how the decision was met with cynicism by the public.
Twitter went abuzz as we all pondered the idea of an ANC that can self-correct.
The establishment of this institution was meant to reaffirm the ANC post-1994 as an organisation that still holds moral high ground and to give practical expression to the notion of the ANC as a leader of society.
In 2017, at its 54th national conference, the party was expected to give credence to the commission by assigning to it power to discipline leaders.
The conference ended with deadlock on the proposal to give more powers to its integrity committee to force leaders to step down if they brought the party into disrepute.
The conference failed to take a resolution on the matter and it has since been deferred to the next national general council of the party, due to take place later this year.
The ANC’s integrity commission remains a titular structure with no real powers to deliver on its intended mandate.
The public is losing faith in the party’s resolve to hold its corrupt leaders accountable as many continue to plunder state institutions with impunity.
Consequently, even as the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture continues to expose some of the corrupt elements, we are still witnessing looting of the public purse under the pretext of the procurement of visibly inflated personal protective equipment meant to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
We are talking about millions that could have gone to poor and working South Africans who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The scourge of corruption has far-reaching implications; it undermines the capacity of the state to meet its obligations to fight poverty, unemployment, inequality and to deliver on other socio-economic rights guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.
The use of government supply chain management system as a complicated web of organised crime carefully crafted to facilitate theft and plunder of public coffers for selfish personal gain has reached alarming proportions that, if unchecked, will leave most South Africans on their knees.
What we have learnt recently with the state capture machinery as documented in various reports is that patronage increases symmetrically with proximity to power. Hence we have an emergence of instant-entrepreneurs allocated protective equipment tenders worth hundreds of millions of rand in the Gauteng Department of Health procurement saga.
The effect of this corruption is that the resources allocated for service delivery get wasted, the private sector is crowded out in the process, and the monopolising positions of the bedridden state-owned companies distort the economy.
The working people in this country must surely brace themselves for a commission of inquiry on the procurement of protective items sometime in the next few months.
The country, now more than ever, yearns for a new cadre that can bring to a halt the gravy train which has brought a spate of unbridled, audacious and senseless looting of public funds.
Matshwi is a spokesperson of the Young Communist League of South Africa in Gauteng. He writes in his personal capacity.
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