Mantashe’s warning to ANC: Learn from communist China or die from corruption
If the governing party ‘does not defeat corruption’ then it can kiss power goodbye, says ANC chair
The ANC and its government has two options: it either it roots out corruption or dies because of corruption.
And there are lessons to be learnt from the Communist Party of China, which abhors corruption and deals with it decisively.
So says ANC chair and mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe — also a leader of the SA Communist Party — who was delivering the keynote address of the Moses Kotane Memorial Lecture, hosted by the University of Johannesburg on Wednesday.
According to Mantashe, the ANC had dipped so deep into corruption that if the problem was not addressed now, only the party’s death would bring about a rude awakening. Mantashe believes the situation was so bad that it was fair to paint all ANC leaders as corrupt because they are either “in reality and by association”.
The ANC, charged Mantashe, had a duty to admit that corruption within ANC ranks and the country as a whole had reached a level of a crisis.
And the ANC, as leader of society in a democratic government, must take the first step to admit its sins and repent immediately. But this was proving to be a mammoth task because some with ANC ranks were obsessed with comparing themselves to leaders of apartheid SA.
Mantashe rejected this, saying it is a sign of how deep the ANC’s crisis is, that the standard with which its leaders measure themselves is of a morally bankrupt apartheid regime.
If any lessons are to be drawn, argued Mantashe, they should be drawn from communist China.
“We can draw lessons from the Chinese revolution on how they moved from the situation they were in during the cultural revolution to a stage where today they say ‘factionalism and corruption are an exception’,” said Mantashe.
“It is important for us to go there and draw those lessons. Of course rules are not the same because in China if you steal state resources, that may be the end of your life. But we must find a way of dealing with corruption so that at a point we must be able to say factionalism and corruption are an exception.”
Mantashe said the ANC had no choice but to continue battling with the question of corruption which is dividing the party.
It was even more tragic that instead of ANC leaders speaking in one voice against the corruption cancer, the whole affair has degenerated into a corruption beauty contest of who is more corrupt than the other.
Taking a veiled dig at suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, Mantashe said it was embarrassing that some ANC leaders had become so desperate to cling to positions at all costs they were now elevating the country’s constitution against that of their party.
Magashule, after being pushed to step aside by his party owing to corruption charges against him in court, took the party to court, arguing that his suspension was against laws of natural justice enshrined in the country’s constitution that all are innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law.
“When you bring the constitution of the land to say this principle of step aside is not in line with the constitution of the land, we must know we are in a crisis because it is a voluntary movement with its own rules,” said Mantashe.
Mantashe said it was in ANC’s own interests to shrug off opponents of efforts to root out corruption within the ANC and forge ahead.
If the ANC continues to tolerate corrupt leaders for its own convenience, it must live with the “inherently corrupt” tag the electorate has correctly pinned on the party.
“The biggest concern is how did we drift into the corruption crisis as a movement and as a country. That question must be asked, we must be confronted with it and forced to answer and be honest with answering those questions,” said Mantashe.
“Today leaders of the ANC are corrupt in reality and by association, and that is the ugly side of widespread corruption: [everyone] is seen as corrupt.
“If we do not retreat when people hurl insults at us, we will win the battle against corruption. If we do not defeat corruption, it will kill the ANC.”