Opinion

Laughing off corruption as old news underlines how morally bankrupt the ANC has become

14 April 2019 - 00:00 By RANJENI MUNUSAMY


There is an irritating habit among ANC people when they respond to revelations of spectacular corruption and impropriety by party leaders.
"It's nothing new. We've known about it for a long time," they say disdainfully.
It is a strange thing to brag about.
Knowing about corruption and gangster activity and not doing anything about it is not only criminal, it adds to the culture of cover-ups and political complicity that has crippled the state. The propensity to dismiss media reports exposing the extent of the rot as old news diminishes the impact. Many people also joke about the crimes committed by their comrades.
The revelation by this newspaper last week that Libyan money was moved from former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home to Eswatini in order to launder it is the latest scandal to invoke mirth and mockery.
A number of ANC leaders told me they were aware that Zuma had stashed money he received from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. They laughed it off as part of the former president's tendency to bend the law and get away with it.
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The revelation by this newspaper last week that Libyan money was moved from former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home to Eswatini in order to launder it is the latest scandal to invoke mirth and mockery.A number of ANC leaders told me they were aware that Zuma had stashed money he received from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. They laughed it off as part of the former president's tendency to bend the law and get away with it.
I wonder whether these people joking about the violation of exchange control laws, about money-laundering and sanctions-busting - as well as possibly influencing the violent events in Libya in 2011 out of self-interest - are conscious of their own contempt for the rule of law.
I also wonder whether they would have been bold enough to admit their knowledge if Zuma was still in power.
There were similar reactions to revelations at the Zondo commission about bribes that Bosasa paid to ANC leaders and government officials, including environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
It would seem everyone in the ANC knew "Mama Action" was on the take. They snigger about her being bribed with frozen chickens.
While there is some determination in the party that the Guptas be exposed and dealt with, there is not a similar commitment to making their comrades face the consequences for selling their souls.
The revelations in Pieter-Louis Myburgh's book Gangster State about ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule's alleged criminal enterprise in the Free State have also been waved away as stale news.
If people in the ANC leadership did know the information in Myburgh's book, it is astounding that they did nothing to stop Magashule rising to such a powerful position in the party.
These same people are trying to convince South Africans to vote for the ANC when a person they acknowledge is dangerous and corrupt controls the party and has ensured the parliamentary benches will be warmed by compromised people who will do his bidding.
Magashule will also be responsible for making key appointments in parliament, such as the chairs of portfolio committees. This means he can control the agenda of parliament, determine which ministers are given hell, and also prescribe the outcome of parliamentary inquiries.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has very definite political targets in her sights and her calculatingly injurious reports will land in parliament for processing. This gives the Magashule camp the power to deal with opponents, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, through the parliamentary caucus.
The way people react to exposés of criminality and corruption is indicative of the persistent failure in the ANC to appreciate the level of contamination and the danger to the state and to people's lives.
One of the most tragic and infuriating tales in Myburgh's book is the hounding and ultimate murder of former Free State official Noby Ngombane.
Ngombane tried to counter the gangster activity and looting spree in that province and became the nemesis of Magashule's mafia ring.
His murder was clearly aimed at eliminating him as an impediment to the plunder and was also a warning to others resisting the dizzying corruption in the provincial government.What is even more appalling is the collusion of the perpetrators, the police and people in national government to pin the crime on Ngombane's wife and family.If people in the ANC exacerbated the family's agony through their silence, they should apologise and retreat from public life in disgrace, not boast that Myburgh is not revealing anything new.It appears, however, that there are a significant number of people in the ANC who are incapable of feeling any sense of shame. To the contrary, they are critical of ANC members who defy the omertà by testifying at the Zondo commission about their experience and knowledge of state capture.Loyalty to the ANC is no longer about adherence to the historical goals of fighting discrimination and inequality, but about concealing each other's dirty secrets.This is not to say that other political parties are preferable.The decay in the governing party cannot be separated from the erosion of morality in our society and the normalisation of criminal and gangster conduct in politics.The breakdown of our society is not a joke and anyone who thinks so should have no place in public life.

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