Johannesburg – “A revolutionary behaves in a certain kind of way and is distinguished and is distinguishable from the criminal, from the vigilante, and from the enemy agent”.
These are the words of Oliver Tambo; these words ring truer in today’s setting more than they ever have before.
There is no question that corruption is pervasive in government and like a three-legged pot, it stands on unscrupulous civil servants, companies paying bribes, and the collaboration of politicians.
There is clear evidence that corrupt civil servants acting in cohorts with tendering companies undermine government processes for selfless gain while undermining service delivery.
Sadly some of our cadres are implicated in acts of corruption.
In several instances, our comrades are not distinguished and distinguishable from the criminal acts. The lack of ethics has tainted the credibility of the ANC in a number of municipalities.
We have not only acknowledged this, but we have proactively acted in line with our resolutions. When a member has appeared in court they are asked to step aside from positions of responsibility within the organisation and in government. While we acknowledge that the law must take its course, safeguarding the integrity of the ANC compels us to introduce the step aside resolution. As recent as this week the ANC in Mpumalanga implemented this resolution. We must however vary that without inapparent corruption evidence ANC leaders are not smeared in the court of public opinion with allegations.
We have taken a further step to restore the credibility of cadres deployed in municipalities. The manner in which ANC councillor candidates are selected for the upcoming local government elections speaks directly to our renewal process. Councillor candidates not only withstood scrutiny in the ANC processes but also had to secure an endorsement of communities.
We are the only contesting party in these elections that has engaged communities in the selection of councillors. The majority of our councillors emerged from these processes. Whilst there may have been glitches, we are determined to realign those candidates with the direct interests of the community.
More than 60% of our ward candidates were selected by the public or voters in a particular ward. Any other party that is contesting a ward will have to mobilize against a community that has already decided on its “ ANC candidacy”. We are aiming to change the perception that ward councillors are government representatives in communities. They must march with communities when there is a burst pipe, raise problems experienced by their constituencies in council meetings.
Becoming an ANC leader is not an entitlement. It should not be an easy process attached merely to status or popularity. At the heart of it, it should be informed first by the desire and commitment to serve the people and secondly by a proven track record.
Like the step aside provisions, these local government elections provide a cathartic moment for our movement. Communities have spoken and those candidates who have not been distinguishable in their conduct, have simply not met community endorsement.
We deliberately tightened the criteria for the selection of our candidates, we are confident that we have women, men, and young people who will be fit for purpose and are credible and honest. These are cadres who have the skills to transform our municipalities, ensure delivery of basic services, and serve our people with absolute integrity and professionalism.
As highlighted in our manifesto, in order for us to fight corruption and end wastage, we need the best amongst us to steer the ship.
Only ethical leaders can make sure public money is spent on the services needed and where this is not done, our ability to deal decisively and immediately with corruption, mismanagement, waste, and under-performance is an unwavering commitment. We have begun the process of interviewing candidate mayors and the best among councillors will take leadership responsibility.
We have shown our firm commitment to clamp down on corruption and looting of public resources. Law enforcement agencies have been reinforced, incapacitated, and resourced, they have shown willingness to pursue those who looted and flouted the law.
We commit ourselves to South Africans that no more will our representatives in municipalities fail to be accountable to our people, no more shall our people be deprived of basic services. The local government will be community-centered and be responsive towards the struggles of our people.
While we frankly conceded that we did not always put the best candidates in government positions, we have as part of the renewal, rectified our mistakes and allowed only capable cadres to emerge from our processes. They will be measured on performance agreements specifying targets, this is an obvious departure from the rhetoric from our opponents who have nothing to offer.
We will continue to draw a line in the sand between those who find themselves in conflict with the law. This is to ensure that those who are implicated in corrupt activities do not taint the movement with their ethical failures.
In order to strengthen this approach, the agencies which fall under the justice crime prevention and security cluster will ensure that those agencies act with the requisite level of independence and with the strength and capacity required of law enforcement agencies.
To show our commitment to making our municipalities work better for our people, the President has assented to the Local Government Municipal Structures Amendment Act which aims to strengthen governance.
The Act will come into effect on 1 November 2021 and will effectively codify the ethical considerations which find expression in our Lode Star document through the Eye of The Needle.
A councillor who has a criminal record will not be able to serve. Councillors will also be required to decline gifts and favours from contractors who do business with municipalities. Each councillor will be required to submit financial interest forms and declarations.
All these measures are indicative of the ANC’s commitment to renewal and winning back the trust of our people.
By Nkenke Kekana.
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