Political analyst Professor Steven Friedman says the African National Congress (ANC) is failing to deal with corruption which he has described as a symptom of what is happening in the country. His statement comes on the eve of the official opening of the party’s policy conference taking place in Nasrec, Johannesburg, on Friday.
On Wednesday, the African National Congress Head of Policy Jeff Radebe said that the party’s Integrity Committee had been asked to finalise in the next six months the hearings of party members implicated in state capture.
He says work will start in earnest at the end of next month.
The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture made damning findings against the ANC, saying that former and current ministers allegedly participated or encouraged the looting of state resources.
Professor Friedman says it is difficult to understand why the ANC is struggling to deal with something as fundamental as corruption.
“Because it is a symptom of what is happening in our society and if the ANC was not the governing party, which of course after 2024 might not be, it is quite possible that in a year or two the same problem would reappear. The reason we have this corruption is that in 27 years we have not been able to change our economy, to ensure that bright, ambitious people who want to climb up the ladder can do so. And as a result of that, those people turned to politics and they try to use politics, and positions in the governing party in order to get into the middle class and upper middle class in a way that in other circumstances they would do through the private economy.“
The party’s step aside rule is expected to feature prominently in policy discussions. The ANC decided at the 2017 Nasrec policy conference that members charged with corruption must voluntarily step aside, while those alleged, reported, or accused of corruption must appear before the integrity committee.
“It looks like it (the conference) is going to be different simply because they have run out of issues; they are reduced to the discussion about the step aside rule. I am not aware of any great issue that will be used to put pressure on the leadership on behalf of factions, which one from KwaZulu-Natal seems to be centred mainly around the step aside rule. And not even that is going to enable them to test their strength because scrapping the rule has been endorsed by Limpopo, factions of Limpopo which support President Ramaphosa. So, it is difficult at this stage to see how they are going to demonstrate that they have any support. “
Professor Friedman says there seems to be no obvious candidate to take over from President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“There isn’t, the only person who has emerged from KwaZulu-Natal is former Health Minister Mkhize and it is not clear if he will be able to be a candidate at the end of this year because he is still under investigation in relation to the Digital Vibes issue. And it is not impossible that he will be charged before the end of this year, in which case, of course, he won’t be eligible. You correctly say that there may well be a challenge to the step aside rule at this meeting. But policy conferences do not make policy which sounds a bit odd, they discuss policy. “
Below is SABC News Anchor Stephen Grootes’ interview with Professor Steven Friedman on SAfm’s Sunrise: