Q&A with ANC stalwart and former ethics committee chair Ben Turok

Parliament's ethics committee has failed to investigate allegations of bribery against ANC MP Vincent Smith referred to it five months ago. The committee's co-chair Humphrey Maxegwana refused to take questions, so Chris Barron asked ANC stalwart and former ethics committee chair Ben Turok …

27 January 2019 - 00:00 By Chris Barron

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu says it can't act against implicated MPs until the Zondo commission completes its work.
That's nonsense. The Zondo commission is going to take two years, and evidence of misconduct must be dealt with as soon as possible. To wait for two years means justice is not being done.
The ANC secretary-general says judicial processes must play themselves out first.
I don't accept that argument. There is absolutely nothing to stand in the way of the committee doing its own investigations and calling for evidence even while the commission is going on with its work. I can't see why the two should be in conflict. Parliament is independent of the judiciary and the processes need not be dependent on one or the other. So how would you explain the failure to take any action?
If the ANC has succumbed to immorality - and it's quite clear this is not just state capture, it's also ANC capture .
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says the ANC is not on trial.
What else can he say? The poor man's got a terrible job. What happened is so shameful that it's hard to live with it.
Cyril Ramaphosa says the ANC didn't know the extent of it. Do you believe that?
I'm afraid I do. These chaps were very smart, the Guptas and Bosasa. When you buy key people in government the way they did, you block off access to information.
How could cabinet ministers, senior MPs, the secretary-general of the ANC have been involved without the "ANC" knowing?
They were too damned clever in concealing their corruption. I knew Vincent Smith very well. I would never have believed he'd be so stupid. Or Gwede Mantashe. I know him very well. I would always have sworn that he was as straight as a die. Until today. I would have stood up in parliament and defended them for their integrity.
Can the ANC cleanse itself, or is the rot too deep?
I think Ramaphosa is doing the right thing, and I think it is possible, yes.
Does it worry you that the panel screening their candidates for integrity is headed by Ace Magashule?
Of course.
Can the ANC cleanse itself with Magashule in charge?
I don't believe he's going to be there very long. I believe after the election you'll see a very big change in the ANC and government as a whole. If not, Ramaphosa's name in history is gone.
Would corruption be as endemic in the party as it is had the ANC's integrity committee done its job properly?
Denis Goldberg was a member of the integrity committee and he resigned because Luthuli House would not let them do their job. That has been the case ever since. Right from the beginning.
They told them who to investigate and who to leave?
They controlled them completely.
Is this why corruption became endemic?
Yes. Luthuli House was soft on corruption...

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