The African National Congress (ANC) government of South Africa will crush corruption, according to President Jacob Zuma. The President said corruption was cancer and had no place within the ANC government or in society. This was said in a statement issued by Zuma last year in June when the Buffalo City Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha and five other officials were facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, involving the Nelson Mandela Memorial service.
The ANC party set up an integrity commission in 2012 to act against members and leaders accused of wrongdoing, with or without a court conviction. Court procedures could take years to finalize and the need to take immediate action was paramount to stop the ANC’s reputation from sustaining further damage.
It is the poorest of the poor that are the real victims of corruption within government structures and an additional burden on taxpayers. The ANC has come to realize that dealing with the perception can be as important as dealing with reality when fighting corruption.
At the 103 year ANC celebration this week, Zuma emphasized the importance of rooting out corruption and vowed to continue the fight. Zuma reminded the crowd that the ANC had taken active steps to eradicate corruption and lead the fight against it to ensure the ANC government remains an active leader.
Zuma said the ANC party had to remain significantly protected from people who sought to manipulate government positions for self-enrichment. The ANC had to guard against exploitation of the democratic process and would extend discipline and eradicate members who employ corruption within the structures of government.
The tough stance Zuma took on corruption at the birthday bash is a sober departure from prior years. As Vice President of South Africa, Zuma was charged with over 700 counts of fraud and corruption, and ANC loyalists insisted that “innocent until proven guilty” was the norm during those years. Zuma has been at the helm of a continual source of allegations, including the Nkandla scandal, yet has survived the onslaught.
This being the case, many are asking if the legitimacy of structures will be disrupted as the integrity commission follows the Judiciary and Public Protector findings. The integrity committee will ask tough questions and follow the correct procedures to eliminate corruption within government departments. The question is whether the ANC will recognize and allow the deep probing that could lead to several people being charged or butt in and dissolve the legal structures to conceal the truth.
Over the past years, corruption has become the norm rather than the exception within the ruling party and the South African society. Corruption is perceived to be out of control within the national, provincial and local government.
Integrity and principles need to be returned to the ANC government in earnest, to stop the corruption and looting that has plagued South Africa. As long as South Africa has leadership that is beneath reproach then the corruption will not end. The marvelous speech by Zuma concerning corruption and the effective manner the ANC plan to eradicate the damage could prove to be another dividing charade.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
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