News Here we go again: ANC to have another shot...

Here we go again: ANC to have another shot at lifestyle audits for wanna-be party leaders

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The African National Congress (ANC) has conceded it’s failure to implement lifestyle audits of its leaders, and has suggested, again, that “integrity checks” be carried out on all those aspiring to attain party leadership positions.

This is reportedly a key issue to be debated at the party’s the national general council (NGC) planned for next year.

The ANC has, according to its own account, failed to implement the resolution adopted in 2015, due to ‘lack of resources’ at Luthuli House.

The matter was also discussed at its last conference in 2017.

Corruption allegations

The ANC faces a litany of corruption allegations levelled against its leadership structures, with corruption-accused leaders stubbornly refusing to step aside despite a ANC presidential directive that they do so.

“Going forward, this should include pre-conference ‘integrity checks’ for all those availing themselves for leadership positions. Through a mechanism that enjoys universal confidence, conduct lifestyle audits and integrity checks starting with national and agree with its aims and objectives (sic),” the discussion documents states.

Since ANC Secretary-General’s Ace Magashule’s high-profile arrest warrant and his subsequent refusal to step down after formal charges of graft, the issue is sure to figure high on the agenda when the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) sits next week

Deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said Friday that the party has solicited a legal opinion from senior councils on the way forward, and will present a legal opinion at its NEC meeting on whether members should be forced to step down when facing official charges, in the wake of one of its most senior leaders, Magashule, appearing in court on graft charges.

In 2016, Magashule’s predecessor, Gwede Mantashe, said lifestyle audits “would go a long way to combating corruption.”

Lack of capacity

The latest proposal by the ANC policy committee bears similarities to the resolutions taken at the last ANC NGC in 2015.

In his closing address at that NGC, former president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma said government should conduct lifestyle audits of all employees of government and its related entities.

He said vetting processes should be expedited with a single vetting agency to vet all strategically placed civil servants and those who reject promotions even though it comes with an improved remuneration package.

The ANC has acknowledged that it has failed to implement this decision.

ANC policy head Jeff Radebe admitted there was a slow pace of carrying out resolutions, and that was the reason government established the planning, monitoring and evaluation department to deal with implementation.

“I think that process is still maturing within government. The other weakness is here at Luthuli House where, because of lack of resources, we have not yet developed a capacity from the ANC perspective to monitor the implementation of our resolutions, especially those that are in government.”

He said it was evident that Luthuli House needed more capacity.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been called out for being slothful in developing guidelines on lifestyle audits for his Cabinet ministers.

He recently said guidelines would be finalised by March 2021, three years after he promised to conduct lifestyle audits on his executive.

ANC’s post-apartheid identity

Also in the discussion document, the party said as part of its plan to implement a new digital membership system, the ANC plans to initiate a campaign to get every ANC member to reapply for membership.

This will include a vetting mechanism for all members, a police clearance certificate and an acceptance that any false declarations on any criteria would lead to the rejection or termination of membership.

The ANC said it will strengthen the role of the integrity commission in line with the resolutions of the 2017 conference and ensure its recommendations are respected.

The ANC has also ‘identified’ that the capacity and legitimacy of the state has been weakened by deeply entrenched corrupt practices by employees, public representatives and the private sector, as well as the arrogance of some in leadership positions.

“The Covid-19 pandemic tested the capacity of the state and the efficiency of government. It also profiled opportunities to grow our capacity to realise developmental endeavours and expose weaknesses. Although progress made to extend basic services and reduce poverty, distribution of income, ownership, management and assets still reflects apartheid, colonialism and patriarchy.”

The ANC discussion document adds that there is also a need to tackle the concept of the ANC’s post-apartheid identity, given the current political landscape.

“The task after reimagining the ANC is to take that fresh look at the ANC and how it relates to society at large.”

ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jesse Duarte. Image Randburg Sun

Exactly a year ago, ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte delivered a stinging rebuke of the governing party, describing it as “tribalistic and racist” for marginalising members and voters who are not black Africans.

In a hard-hitting address to ANC members at the Naledi Community Hall in Soweto during the Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture, Duarte said her comrades might not like what she told them but the party was “tribally chauvinistic.”

“We have almost become tribalists in the way we present ourselves. We are racist in the ANC because we marginalise people who are not black African people; keep them out of the ANC at all costs. (And) put one or two there as tokens so that we can say mara ja, you know, there is uJessie apha (here) representing.”

Duarte continued: “We won’t accept the fact that non-racialism is a core value of the ANC. We don’t want to accept that, we even go as far as creating myths. I don’t like the term coloured people, I never refer to myself as a coloured, ever in my life and I never will.”

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