Pressure is mounting on the African National Congress (ANC) to adequately equip and empower its Integrity Commission to do its job. The governing party adopted a resolution to set up the commission at its 2012 national conference.
This commission is constituted to deal with unethical behaviour within its ranks. However, the commission is sometimes accused of being toothless.
The ANC Integrity Commission came into being some eight years ago when there was evidence of unethical behaviour amongst some party members.
It was empowered to act independently which meant it did not need anybody to refer the case to it whenever it notices that a member has acted in a manner that compromises the integrity of the organisation.
The role of the NEC
But after doing its works, its findings and recommendations are subject to the National Executive Committee (NEC) thus limiting its efficacy. This has resulted in some of the ANC and the general public saying it is just a toothless task team of the NEC.
At the funeral of its founding Chairperson Andrew Mlangeni last week, ANC member Malose Kekana said the best tribute to the former chair of this commission is to have it report directly to the national conference.
“The transition of the ANC from a liberation movement to being a political party and incumbent with the ability to dispense patronage and therefore, the source of corruption, has been a difficult transformation for many of these veterans. If you wish to honour the memory of Ntate Mlangeni, I propose that, Mr. President, you spearhead the change of the ANC constitution to make the Integrity Commission is an independent constitutional structure that does not report to the NEC, but to the conference. These veterans are one of two strong pillars that are holding up our movement. The other pillar is the support we enjoy from our people,” said Kekana.
ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang on the other hand says the ANC Integrity Commission can function optimally if it is adequately empowered to do its job.
”They need to be adequately equipped to carry out their work and they do make recommendations. If the complaint and the accusations right now is that they lack teeth, it’s not because the people who serve on the commission lack the integrity and the will. It’s not as if they are selective and take some cases and not others. What’s referred to them, they deal with and they make recommendations. They may take time for the recommendations to be implemented, (and) they may be rejected as has happened in the past. ”
While the ANC grapples to ward-off corruption allegations emanating from the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the COVID-19 pandemic, its alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), has warned the ANC-led government to shape up or risk losing support from its traditional allies and power in the next elections.
“He (President Ramaphosa) is really doing nothing. All we ever hear from him is analytics and cliche. We don’t know how many speeches we have listened of him committing to fighting corruption, yet corruption still happens all around him in his own administration; in his own organisation and we haven’t seen anyone being taken to task. And we made it very clear to the president that if he fails there will be a parting of ways. You cannot get a mandate from the people then you say you cannot act. Deliver on the mandate. That’s what the people voted you to do,” says Spokesperson Sizwe Pamela.
Meanwhile, Political Analyst Dr. Ralph Mathekga says consistency would help to restore the respect of the ANC Integrity Commission.
“The biggest challenge that the ANC Integrity Commission faces is actually integrity, because its recommendations lack integrity. This is because the commission has not functioned consistently. There have been some glaring cases that the commission hasn’t focused on. There are some people who believe they have been cleared by the commission such as the Deputy President of the ANC and yet, you hear the commission saying we have not cleared the Deputy President. So, it is not really very clear what is going on with this commission and the challenge is that if you failed to act consistently in the past, when you start doing it even those that actually deserve to meet the consequences they will then have a valid reason to ask, ‘why now?'”
Although the ANC has the Integrity Commission at both national and provincial levels, they function differently.
At the provincial level, most cases are referred to the Provincial Integrity Commission by the Provincial Executive Committee.
The latest such cases include the one involving PEC members and Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko and Gauteng Health MEC Bonagani Masuku as well as his wife who are accused of corruption in the awarding of tenders in PPEs in Masuku’s portfolio.