The African National Congress (ANC) says it is “outraged and deeply embarrassed” that some people, including its own members, have sought to benefit “unlawfully” from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued by ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule on Tuesday after its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend, the party said allegations of COVID-19 corruption “cause us to collectively dip our heads in shame and to humble ourselves before the people.”
“We acknowledge the justifiable public outrage caused by the depravity and heartlessness displayed by some elements in government, our organisation and the private sector,” it said.
Officials step aside
A number of ANC provincial and local leaders, including Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, his wife Loyiso Masuku who is also an MMC in Johannesburg, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, have stepped aside from their positions pending investigations.
This follows revelations that Diko’s husband, King Madzikane II Diko, was awarded a R125 million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender by the Gauteng provincial department.
Diko maintains that the tender was cancelled without any payments to Royal Bhaca Projects. The Dikos and Masukus, who are reportedly close family friends, have denied allegations of wrongdoing.
Reports also emerged that Magashule’s two sons, former Minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s daughter and Deputy Minister Thembi Siweya’s cousin received similar contracts from the Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo governments respectively. They have similarly denied involvement or wrongdoing.
Review of family members doing business with government
To address reports of alleged corruption, the NEC therefore took several decisions, including a review of how family members of ANC leaders do business with the government. These include:
- Pursuant to the resolution that those accused of corruption and other serious crimes against the people, including those charged in courts, may be expected to step aside from their positions or responsibilities, the National Officials be requested immediately to prepare an audited list of cases and submit this list within one month to the NWC [National Working Committee] and the NEC, with recommendations for action.
- All ANC provincial and regional structures be instructed to report forthwith on steps taken against ANC members and public representatives accused of abusing food parcels and other Covid-19 relief measures. The National Officials were requested to report to the next NWC.
- The role and capacity of the ANC Disciplinary Committee and Integrity Commission, including its capacity to investigate, will be strengthened in line with national conference resolutions. The National Officials were tasked with engaging with the Integrity Commission and making recommendations to the NEC.
- The codes of ethics that guide public representatives, members of the executive and public servants at all levels be complied with by ANC public representatives, and reviewed to provide clear guidance with regards to family members doing business with government.
- The National Officials are to provide an in-depth analysis of the nature and causes of the current manifestations of corruption, including the intersection between business and politics; and make recommendations regarding the strengthening of ethics and revolutionary values within the ANC.
Permanent ‘multi-disciplinary agency’
The NEC also expressed support for Ramaphosa’s decision to sign a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) proclamation authorising an investigation into all COVID-19 procurement irregularities and to establish a “fusion centre” comprising various law enforcement agencies.
“The NEC called upon the ANC-led government to urgently establish a permanent multi-disciplinary agency to deal with all cases of white-collar crime, organised crime and corruption,” it added.
Ramaphosa is under pressure to stop alleged runaway corruption. Labour federation COSATU, which was his staunch ally in the run-up to the ANC’s 2017 national conference, has threatened to “mobilise against his administration” if he does not meaningly address corruption.
In his newsletter to the nation on Monday, he likened those attempting to profit from the pandemic to “scavengers” and “a pack of hyenas circling wounded prey.”