MPs label ANC ‘congregation of the corrupt’ during heated debate
‘In other democracies there would have been en masse resignations when confronted with such astounding failure, but not here’ — Bantu Holomisa
The scrapping of the tender system, establishment of independent bodies, increased budget for the auditor-general, finalisation of lifestyle audits and the political will to address corruption head-on.
These are some of the solutions which opposition parties said the country needed to adopt to be corruption-free.
The solutions emerged on Friday during a heated National Assembly debate on the consequences of corruption for the people and the development of SA. The debate was sponsored by UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.
Opposition MPs appeared to share similar sentiments about the ruling party being an enabler of corruption.
Holomisa, who is known to be vocal about corruption, did not mince his words when he detailed what he termed the 25 big scandals in the country’s 27 years of democracy.
“Different cabinets over the years have failed this country, full stop. Oaths of office have been broken, powers of accounting officers were and are usurped, and political directives have been the order of the day since 1994.
“In other democracies around the world, there would have been en masse resignations when ministers are confronted with such astounding failure. But not here. In South Africa we tolerate such shenanigans. Yet when we consider the remedies presently at our disposal, the nation’s hands are tied,” he said.
DA MP Solly Malatsi argued that the impact of corruption was a subject many South Africans were “frankly sick and tired of speaking about” and wanted to see real action.
“The reality we find ourselves in is that the ANC is an enabler of corruption in SA. It is ANC leaders who are lead actors and cast members in every major corruption deal in the public service,” he charged.
Among others, he made reference to the scandals and corruption involving the Public Investment Corporation, Nkandla, Bosasa, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA and Covid-19 personal protective equipment procurement.
“The biggest beneficiary in all of these corrupt transactions is the ANC. In each and every one of these instances it is an ANC minister, an MEC or a party official who stole money meant to improve the quality of life of civilians,” argued Malatsi.
He also took a swipe at the party’s cadre deployment policy which saw some members redeployed into other positions instead of being ostracised.
“Here in parliament, we serve among those who stole money from the public, yet they continue to live off the public purse so much that the ANC caucus has evolved into a congregation of the corrupt protecting each other from accountability.
“If the ANC is serious about fighting corruption, it must stop elevating people implicated in corruption to parliament,” he said.
EFF MP Veronica Mente said the country could no long sit and argue as corruption needed to be tackled head-on.
She centred her debate around possible solutions, which included holding existing institutions to account.
“The Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority must be held accountable for not investigating and prosecuting these corrupt individuals. There is absolutely no excuse for their inertia,” she said.
This lack of political will to address corruption head-on is one of the reasons SA finds itself in a state of blunder today.IFP MP Narend Singh
Mente said the Special Investigating Unit needed to be free from political interference and should “be used to uncover corruption across the public service, without fear or favour”.
“All those found to have defrauded the state must have their assets and properties attached to recoup these losses. There must be real consequence management in all departments,” she said.
The EFF also advocated for the office of the auditor-general to be given more funding for audits to be conducted timeously.
IFP MP Narend Singh slammed the government’s constant condemnation each time corruption struck, and called for prosecution of the corrupt.
“Lamentations are not going to take us anywhere. When are we going to have prosecutions, even out of the state capture inquiry, convictions and more people put in orange overalls? I think by the time we have these convictions, we won’t have enough overalls to supply these people.
“This lack of political will to address corruption head-on is one of the reasons SA finds itself in a state of blunder today, 25 years into our democracy,” he said.
ANC MP and deputy minister of public services Sindisiwe Chikunga refuted allegations that the ruling party was the enabler of corruption and argued the apartheid government was to blame.
“In 1994 we inherited a state that was by its formation corrupt and became more corrupt as it realised a new dawn was soon to take over the reins of leadership in governance,” she said.
Chikunga, however, admitted that corruption had devastating effects on the economy and the country’s people.
“The traumatising truth is that corruption consequentially affects the nation’s ability to operate fairly and efficiently and further reduces the state’s ability to deliver on its developmental mandate.”
She moved to assure MPs that the government was dealing with corruption, making reference to the state capture inquiry, whose work has not been completed.
“The government is tackling corruption head-on and implementing policy and legislative strategies through government departments, chapter 9 and 10 institutions, and law enforcement agencies including commissions such as the Zondo commission,” she argued.
In his state of the nation address last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa labelled corruption as one of the greatest impediments to the country’s growth and development, saying it needed urgent attention.