Voices

Battle is not over: What will Cyril do about allies accused of corruption?

2019-05-22 00:30

‘The fact of the matter is that we were robbed in these elections,” claimed Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The leader of the African Content Movement, who believes that he’s destined to become president, just could not believe that less than 4 000 people voted for him.

Motsoeneng blames the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) for stealing votes that were meant for his party.

His evidence is that the voting station where his family members voted recorded “zero-voting” for ACM.

He just can’t accept that even his own family members rejected him.

Motsoeneng is a comical figure. He might even be deranged. But, his accusations of electoral rigging were enabled by real lapses on the part of the IEC.

Some people voted twice because they were able to erase the ink on their thumbs and the scanner could not pick up that they had already voted.

Not all of the ink used in this election was indelible and the scanners did not provide any safeguard against multiple voting.

Read: Hlaudi with a chance of becoming SA president?

Public outrage at the inclusion of tainted individuals on the list and the recent remark by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng that ethical individuals be appointed to public service, has made it easy for Ramaphosa to overlook the inglorious ones.

The quality of the ink requires looking into. It might just have been a mistake. We need to know either way.

As for scanners, they were never designed to detect multiple voters. It is easy to ensure the ink is not easily removed, but difficult to have scanners that pre-empt multiple voting.

They would have to be connected to a database and this would not be possible for all voting stations, especially those in rural areas without electricity or wireless connection.

We would not need to worry about logistics, however, if we fixed the basic flaw. That is allowing people to vote where they are not registered.

Doing so nullifies the use of a voters’ roll to verify if a voter is registered and whether he or she has voted.

Allowing people to vote at stations where they were not registered had good intentions. The idea was to make sure that voters were not denied the right to vote simply because of a lack of ballot papers or long queues at their own stations.

Now that we know there are unscrupulous voters intent on exploiting loopholes in the system, it might be prudent to revise our electoral law confining voters to vote where they are registered.

The difficulty will be what to do with allies who face murky findings of corruption.

This would obviously require that operations go smoothly on the day to avoid voters being inconvenienced at their own stations.

The IEC might not always get the operations correctly, but it is worth dedicated attention to ensure multiple voting cannot happen. Multiple voting notwithstanding, the IEC did a sterling job.

The sixth Parliament and Cabinet will soon be sworn in. Their legitimacy will be unchallenged.

Whether they’ll be efficient remains to be seen.

Cyril Ramaphosa has a wide pool of candidates to appoint into this Cabinet. A notable number of them are competent and hard-working.

Public outrage at the inclusion of tainted individuals on the list and the recent remark by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng that ethical individuals be appointed to public service, has made it easy for Ramaphosa to overlook the inglorious ones.

The difficulty will be what to do with allies who face murky findings of corruption. Bosasa did not pamper Gwede Mantashe the same way they did Nomvula Mokonyane.

But, Mantashe remains a recipient of a favour from a company that is now notorious for bribing politicians.

Appointing Mantashe into his Cabinet, while excluding Mokonyane and her ilk, makes Ramaphosa vulnerable to accusations of bias and fans factionalism.

It won’t be a bad idea to sacrifice Mantashe to foster a culture of intolerance for impropriety, however insignificant.

Because this involves an ally and a chairperson of the ANC, it sets a strong precedent making it easy to remove malfeasant public officials in future.

Bheki Cele, the police minister, is another tricky case. His courage was valuable for Ramaphosa in KwaZulu-Natal when very few would speak up in his support.

But, Cele’s refusal to rehire Robert McBride as head of Independent Police Investigative Directorate creates doubts over his intentions. McBride was obviously competent and passionate about his job.

That’s the kind of a person needed for a department that is fraught with corruption. And, McBride was acting against corruption in the police service.

Why not reappoint someone who has excelled in his job despite tremendous odds? Cele did not provide a reason. He simply said McBride was not entitled to be reappointed.

ANC parliamentarians went along with Cele’s decision. They did not stop to ask why the minister of police would not reappoint a competent bureaucrat who is fighting corruption in his department.

Is Cele not troubled by the corruption in the police service? Could it be that McBride’s exit is aimed to thwart investigations and protect corrupt cops and politicians?

Equally noteworthy was Ramaphosa’s silence throughout this whole saga. Of course it was the decision of Parliament, but Ramaphosa could have influenced the ANC caucus to retain McBride for the simple reason that he was conscientious and competent.

Isn’t that what Thuma Mina means? We’d do better not to be mesmerised by slogans. Not everything is what it seems.

Read: Robert McBride takes on might of the state to keep position

Similarly important to stress is the importance of the ANC in the success of Ramaphosa’s project.

Ace Magashule, the secretary-general, doesn’t wish Ramaphosa’s presidency well.

He effectively “de-campaigned” the ANC, accusing Ramaphosa of using the intelligence to spy on him and refuses to acknowledge Ramaphosa’s singular role in the party’s victory.

And, despite the overwhelming evidence of corruption, Magashule is not about to vacate his position.

Even if the party’s integrity committee were to recommend Magashule’s removal, that recommendation still has to be approved by the national executive committee (NEC).

There’s no telling that the NEC would endorse the recommendation.

Their approval of a list that includes candidates of Magashule’s ilk suggests that most of them don’t mind the misdemeanors of their secretary-general.

In any case, even if most NEC members wanted Magashule gone, it’s doubtful that their decision would hold. Him being an elected official complicates his removal.

Think back to Jacob Zuma’s case in 2005 at the ANC’s national general council (NGC). Zuma went to the NGC suspended as deputy-president of the party.

This followed his removal as deputy-president of the republic, following allegations that he was implicated in corruption. Delegates refused to accept Zuma’s suspension.

They insisted that, because Zuma was an elected official, it was up to ANC members to decide his fate. And, they promptly reinstated him.

Short of a conviction, the NEC lacks grounds to remove their malfeasant secretary-general. And a conviction is not likely to come anytime soon.

Magashule has not even been charged yet. That leaves the next NGC as the only forum to decide Magashule’s future.

Magashule will use his office, aided by those who’ll be overlooked for Cabinet appointments, to avert not only his ousting, but also put the entire leadership on review. Anything can happen at that NGC.

Ramaphosa might have won the presidency, but faces tough battles ahead. It’s far from over.

. Ndletyana is associate professor of political science at the University of Johannesburg


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September 15 2019