[Marxism] The corruption of the ANC

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 17 14:43:27 MDT 2012


The corruption of the ANC

August 11, 2012 11:40 am

Bobby Wilcox, a South African socialist who spent seven years in Robben 
Island under the apartheid regime, explains how the African National 
Congress has become notorious for its culture of self enrichment and 

In 2007, when accused of profiting handsomely from his facilitation of a 
certain Black Economic Empowerment deal, Mr Smuts Ngonyama, then head of 
the ANC presidency notoriously answered: “I didn’t join the struggle to 
be poor”. This remark, which exposed his crass self-centredness, caused 
a huge outcry, mostly from hypocritical liberals outside the ranks of 
the ANC but also from within its ranks as well. But Mr Ngonyama’s 
statement was not without hidden sympathy and the belief in this idea 
has manifested itself to an ever increasing degree today. After all, 
Julius Malema, expelled president of the ANC Youth League also stated, 
“what the whites have, we also want”.

We are being confronted with a litany of corrupt acts by senior members 
of the ANC along with questionable appointments to high ranking state 
positions. We have had the appointment of Menzi Simelane as director of 
the National Prosecuting Authority, later ruled as improperly appointed 
by the Supreme Court of Appeal. There is the notorious case of President 
Zuma’s buddy, Schabir Shaik, who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment 
for corruption, only to be released after two years in dubious 
circumstances for so-called medical reasons. We have the case of Richard 
Mdluli, member of the heinous “Special Branch” of the South African 
Police Service in the apartheid years, who was appointed head of Police 
Crime Intelligence, but later suspended on full pay, facing an 
investigation of murder, et al. Now there has been the case of former 
head of police, Jackie Selebi, found guilty of fraud and corruption and 
sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment. He too has been released on 
parole after serving less than two years of his sentence, spent in the 
convenience of public hospital treatment. The list goes on and on – 
Julius Malema, who allegedly enriched himself through corrupt political 
dealings in the Limpopo Province, Tony Yengeni, convicted fraudster who 
also enjoyed early release on parole and now Head of Political Education 
in the ANC and the late Sicelo Schiceka, Minister of Cooperative 
Governance, who, inter alia, utilised state funds to visit his 
girlfriend imprisoned in Switzerland on drug related charges. Schiceka 
recently died at the age of 45 “after a long (undeclared) illness”, etc, 
etc, etc.

The corruption in the ANC is not without precedent. The history books 
are replete with the acts of the leadership of bourgeois democratic 
struggles turning to corruption and in many cases, brutal dictatorships 
to enrich themselves. After all, “we didn’t struggle to be poor”.

The petty bourgeois leadership of the ANC in order to promote its class 
interests, reached accommodation with the representatives of the 
bourgeois, the leadership of the National Party and formed a ‘government 
of national unity’ with them. On assuming power the ANC proceeded to 
reward Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and its other leaders, who had 
served long terms of imprisonment under the regime, by sanctioning their 
unprecedented enrichment. Nobody, least of all the now critical 
liberals, questioned where this money came from and what its purpose 
was. Then, the salaries of politicians and high ranking personnel in 
government offices were dramatically increased, besides the grand salary 
allocations for those in the employ of ANC itself. This was ostensibly 
to reward Blacks with the kind of standard of living that they were 
previously denied. Suddenly, it became highly profitable to be a 
politician, particularly an ANC politician. For instance, the chairman 
of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Andile Lungisa, earns a 
whopping salary of R790 000 a year. Not to be outdone the chief 
executive, Steven Ngubeni, earns the magnificent sum of R1.8 million 
(£141,790 /$222,450) per year. The Chief Operations Officer, Magdalene 
Moonsamy, earns R1.2 million a year. All are former members of the ANC 
Youth League – no other qualifications required. Salaries within the 
Youth League itself do not fall far behind. There have been serious 
questions about the validity and necessity of the NYDA which has 
achieved very, very little to promote the interests of the youth of 
South Africa to date.

All of this has resulted in an unholy scramble for lucrative positions 
that needed no special qualifications other than being a loud proponent 
of the ANC. Today the country is paying dearly for grossly inefficient 
and corruption ridden municipal councils which the ANC now admits is a 
result of the appointment of persons to senior positions for which they 
were not qualified. But the problem goes beyond municipal government. It 
extends to provincial and national government departments in no 
uncertain terms. We see for example, the tragic case of school text 
books not being delivered in the Limpopo province after seven months of 
the school year and the Dept. of Education only responding when 
challenged in court. The situation in the Eastern Cape is no better. 
Last year the provincial Dept. of Education overspent its budget with a 
number of dubious contracts involved and then dismissed 3000 temporary 
teachers whose salaries could not be paid. A number of schools have no 
running water and grossly inadequate toilet facilities. In spite of this 
blatant mismanagement President Zuma drily stated that no action would 
be taken against Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

It is becoming clear that the agenda of the corrupt has gained the upper 
hand in the ANC. This has prompted Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of 
the Congress of South African Trade unions (COSATU) to utter strong 
warnings, on various occasions, that if something radical is not done to 
curb this corruption then the country faces the real danger of a general 
revolt that can be equated to the Arab Spring. But it appears that 
except for a few, most of the ANC leadership are not heeding this 
warning. The recent ANC Policy Conference, ostensibly to conclude an 
intelligent approach to a number of issues troubling South Africa and 
its economy in particular, turned out to be a farce. There was a day 
long debate of a wordy document, backed by Zuma and supporters calling 
for a “second transition”. Others argued that the country was still in 
its first transition and to speak of a second transition was 
meaningless. The conclusion was a compromise adoption of what was called 
the “second phase of the transition”, without much of the original 
document being altered. Other serious issues, such as the agrarian 
problem and the call for nationalization of the mines were discussed at 
length. But all that was achieved were semantic changes in the old 
interpretation of the ANC’s stance and its commitment to neo-liberalism 
remains. Indeed, the conference appeared to be more about the leadership 
struggle in the ANC, in preparation for its elective conference to be 
held in December this year.

This calamitous state of affairs we find ourselves in South Africa today 
is rooted in the class interests the ANC leadership is pursuing and its 
open reliance on cheap populism, by way of which a large number of 
opportunists were attracted to and welcomed into its ranks. It could 
bask in its dubious accreditation as the leading organization in the 
liberatory struggle by the liberal press. Today the country pays the 
price. Protests at a lack of housing and service delivery continue 
apace. The ANC appears to be totally incapable of dealing with the 
country’s dire unemployment problem. The possibility of a major 
rebellion is indeed growing, while the radical left still struggles to 
find its feet, to present the nation with a positive alternative. In the 
meantime the conservative Democratic Alliance continues to gain ground. 
It is sloughing off its characterisation as a party representing those 
who quietly benefited under the apartheid regime and is attracting more 
support at the polls. The future of the country remains in the balance, 
but the working class was not and has not been defeated and critical 
battles lie ahead.

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