While the candyfloss and popcorn nature of stump speeches at election time means the promises made by politicians under pressure must be taken with a pinch of salt, it is nevertheless of some value to draw comparisons.
First, let’s note the words of ANC presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa, who told a meeting of the Gauteng ANC: “We will confront corruption and state capture. No meaningful growth, transformation or development will be possible for as long as key public institutions continue to be used for the criminal benefit of a few and public resources continue to be looted.
“It is therefore necessary to take immediate steps to remove from positions of responsibility those individuals who have facilitated state capture, strengthen law-enforcement agencies and rebuild critical state institutions. A judicial commission of inquiry needs to be established without delay and legal and criminal action will be pursued against the perpetrators.
We want every rand stolen from our people returned. We must search for this money in bank accounts throughout the world. These stolen billions belong to our people. It does not belong to a handful of individuals.”We should establish a special anticorruption appropriation fund through which all the recovered proceeds of corruption will be channelled to youth training and employment initiatives.”
Stirring words that take the matter of dealing appropriately with the levels of corruption in SA at present a lot further than any other candidate for the presidency of the ANC has done so far in the public campaigning for that coveted position, which in the past has been a passport to the national presidency. However, Ramaphosa does remain vague on the “how to” aspects of what he envisages.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been all but silent on the burning issue of corruption, but then she could hardly be expected to call for the heads of those who have perpetrated state capture in the course of her former husband’s presidency.
Zweli Mkhize has, somewhat surprisingly, been similarly muted in his stance on corruption since throwing his hat into the ring as a candidate for the ANC presidency.
Asked at a Cape Town Press Club lunch what he intended to do about corruption, he waffled on unconvincingly.
This can be contrasted with what he wrote on the subject of the funding of political parties prior to taking the plunge for the presidency: “The ANC will never knowingly accept donations from corrupt transactions and if such is proven, the party will consider the necessity of returning such donation when the criminality is proven by the authorities in question. The ANC is in the forefront of ensuring clean governance, vigorously fighting corruption and ensuring clean sources of party funding.”
Given the malevolent role played by the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House, in, for example, the Hitachi Power Africa deal, it is difficult to give credence to the views so expressed, but at least the good doctor was being more specific than he was at the press club.
Opposition leader Mmusi Maimane is not a candidate for the leadership of the ANC (some might add “yet”), but it is instructive to compare what he said about combating corruption with the stances of the front-runners in the ANC presidential campaign:
“The DA has some big, bold ideas to win the war against corruption. For one thing, SA needs a new and powerful independent commission dedicated to fighting corruption — a kind of Scorpions on steroids. It must have a high level of independence; it cannot be answerable to the executive. Candidates for leadership must be short-listed by Parliament and then appointed by the Judicial Services Commission, based on competence, experience and ethical conduct.
This corruption-busting unit must be well-resourced and have comprehensive powers to investigate and prosecute. It must have a 24-hour corruption reporting centre where people may anonymously report corrupt activities in either the private or public sector. The DA would enforce a minimum 15-year sentence for those found guilty of corruption. Prevention is as important as cure and a DA government would use genius new Blockchain technology to make the payment of all public money transparent.”
Clear, concise, specific, innovative and constitutionally compliant with the criteria laid down in the litigation over the inadequacy of the Hawks. The ANC presidential candidates are going to have to up their games on the vital “how to” issues around corruption.
• Hoffman SC is a director of Accountability Now and the author of Confronting The Corrupt.
Article published in Bdlive on 22 November 2017