Mondli Makhanya: We are in big trouble if ANC has no problem calling miscreants ‘honourable’

2019-04-08 22:46

You cannot fault ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule for defending the party’s candidate list and insisting that the outcome of the process was the will of the ANC membership.

“The process of the list started in 2018, September, we are here now and the ANC branches went through this process – rigorously so; democratically so. The national executive committee set up the list committee, the provinces set up provincial list committees. In December, we had the national list committee ... We adopted a list by the national executive committee,” Magashule was quoted as saying.

He was absolutely correct.

With all their flaws, the ANC’s list processes are still probably the most comprehensive and democratic of any of the political parties.

Theoretically, every single branch member has an opportunity to influence who gets on to the list to serve in Parliament, the legislatures and municipal councils.

By the time the lists are submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), they have been subjected to lots of contestation in party structures.

And, some would strongly argue, a lot of manipulation, too.

We are clearly becoming a people who could not care less about the character of those who lead us, regardless of the harm they do to our republic.

Following the release of the ANC lists for this year’s elections – and the appearance of dodgy characters on them – there was outrage and accusations of manipulation.

Poor Magashule was whispered about as the mastermind of the alleged manipulation, which, according to detractors, ensured an outcome that was weighted in favour of his faction.

The verdict was that he ensured that those who were Jacob Zuma loyalists during the wasted decade made it on to the lists.

This alleged manipulation, presumably, was to strengthen the hand of this faction in the parliamentary caucus and ensure they remained a thorn in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s side for the next five years, and also to position them for a big comeback at the ANC’s 2022 national conference.

But obsessing about whether or not there was manipulation is missing the point.

The list that Luthuli House submitted to the IEC is, as Magashule and others have correctly said, the will of the membership of the ANC.

It reflects the values of many in the ANC, as well as the attitude of the grassroots membership towards issues of corruption and misgovernance.

Read: Mondli Makhanya: The toadying ways of ANC MPs

That should be the biggest worry of the good people in the ANC and those outside of the party.

The fact that the general membership of the ANC can knowingly nominate people who were central to the near destruction of the South African state and who were part of the state capture project that brought us misery is cause for great worry.

There are many on the national and provincial lists who are undesirables, but let’s concentrate on the usual suspects who should have had the members holding their noses.

Guaranteed a place in Parliament after May 8 is one Bathabile Dlamini, who spent nearly a decade destroying the social security net.

Only the vigilance of civil society and the diligence of public servants in her department ensured she didn’t fully succeed.

Even if she does not make it back to Cabinet, she will still be on the parliamentary benches, where she will be chewing ceaselessly and yelling at opposition MPs.

Joining her will be Nomvula Mokonyane. When Mokonyane was overlooked for Gauteng premier in 2014, she was sneaked into Cabinet by Zuma, who used his prerogative to appoint two non-MPs.

People naively laughed at her supposed demotion from premier to minister of water and sanitation with silly jokes about her going to look after poo.

If the tolerance of malfeasance shown by the ANC membership is anything to go by, we have become a nation of public morality atheists.

Little did they know that she would turn this critical portfolio – which not only looks after our dams and water infrastructure, but also ensures poor people’s access to dignity – into a playground for her friends and associates.

Those who laughed at her didn’t realise she had been given a budget to die for, and she went on to bring the department to its knees.

The less said about the Bosasa bonanzas, the better. Anyway, she will once more be an honourable member.

As will the zombie-like Mosebenzi Zwane, who was a Gupta stuurboy.

The little-known Zwane was taken from the Free State’s agriculture department, where he had been a Gupta enabler, to the national stage where he became an even bigger enabler.

The damage he did was immense – he was one of those who handed the Eskom coffers to the Guptas. We all know where that landed us.

It may be a little unjust to single out these three, but they are exemplary of many on the ANC lists, which, one must add, contain some really fine South Africans who have been lumped in with a bad lot.

Read: Mondli Makhanya: SA’s voters have grown up and cannot be taken for granted by ANC

The membership of the ANC knows the sins of Dlamini, Mokonyane and Zwane, but they have been taught to disregard the difference between right and wrong.

So, if the branch membership of the ANC – most of whom one would presume are decent folk – have no problem with miscreants in the hallowed halls of Parliament and are okay with them being called “honourable”, we are in bigger trouble than we thought.

If the tolerance of malfeasance shown by the ANC membership is anything to go by, we have become a nation of public morality atheists.

We are clearly becoming a people who could not care less about the character of those who lead us, regardless of the harm they do to our republic.

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August 18 2019