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Covid-19 corruption: ANC NEC embarrassed by allegations, says public outrage is justified

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Covid-19 corruption: ANC NEC embarrassed by allegations, says public outrage is justified

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule

4th August 2020

By: News24Wire

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The African National Congress's (ANC's) national executive committee (NEC), after spending the weekend discussing corruption, among other issues, once again condemned these acts and vowed to fight the scourge, which has become largely associated with the party and its members.

On Friday, the NEC, which is the highest decision-making body in the ANC, met to discuss recent wide-ranging issues including: reports of graft, the Covid-19 pandemic, Women's Month, local government, the taxi industry indaba and infrastructure development's role in the country's plans for economic recovery.

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News24 reported that the party's attempt to discuss corruption over the weekend fast became a finger-pointing exercise with different factions blaming the other for benefiting from corruption.

In a statement by its secretary-general Ace Magashule on Tuesday, the party said it was "outraged" and "ashamed" by the reports of corruption, with some of its own seeking to unlawfully benefit from the suffering experienced by many due to Covid-19.

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Several corruption claims relating to the procurement of personal protective equipment have surfaced in recent weeks - this followed other claims of the looting and using of food parcels to dispense political patronage.

"These developments cause us collectively to dip our heads in shame and to humble ourselves before the people. We acknowledge the justifiable public outrage caused by the depravity and heartlessness displayed by some elements in government, our organisation and the private sector," Magashule said in the statement.

The secretary-general's sons have also been accused of benefiting from Covid-19 tenders, joining a long list of family members linked to ANC leaders who were rewarded contracts from the state during the crisis.

He said the party was now drawing the line on corruption and would combine preventative and punishment measures in its fight.

Action 

Magashule further listed actions the organisation would take, which were resolved on and committed to, during the party's 2017 Nasrec elective conference.

These included members facing claims of corruption and other serious crimes expected to "may be" step aside from their responsibilities; and that officials "may be" calling for the assistance of its integrity commission.

Magashule said all the party's provincial and regional structures would also be instructed to report steps taken against those accused of disrupting both the food parcels distribution chains and other Covid-19 measures - the information would be reported to the ANC's national working committee.

The ANC's integrity and disciplinary committees would also be strengthened, while a code of ethics for public representatives, members of the executive and public servants would be compiled.

The party's national officials were also tasked with studying the nature and causes of corruption, as it's currently manifested and gave an in-depth analysis thereof.

"The NEC called upon the ANC-led government to urgently establish a permanent multi-disciplinary agency to deal with all cases of white-collar crime, organised crime and corruption. Furthermore, the NEC called upon all law enforcement agencies to carry out their duties without fear, favour or prejudice," said Magashule.

He said the NEC fully supported its president, who is also South Africa's head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to refer all allegations linked to the procurement of Covid-19 goods and services to the Special Investigative Unit (SIU).

The ANC also praised its structures in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Eastern Cape for acting when claims of corruption surfaced.

Focus on local government

The NEC also raised concern over the state of the country's municipalities, calling on national, provincial and local governments to address the root causes of problems in municipalities.

Last month, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu revealed that only 20 of the country's 278 municipalities achieved a clean audit, with more than R1-billion having been spent on consultants and R32-billion in irregular expenditure during the last financial year.

Magashule said the AG had raised several concerns, including: the disregard for controls; non-compliance with legislation and assurance providers; inadequate monitoring of internal controls; vacancies in critical positions; and a continued capacity gap in administration and leadership instability.

"These administrative and governance lapses make for very weak accountability and the consequent exposure to abuse of the public purse. Furthermore, the NEC emphasised the importance of respecting the political-administrative interface and allowing senior leaders in the administration the space to play their statutory role without interference, including the filling of critical vacancies," he said.

Magashule said these would be further discussed along with the reform of the electoral systems and local government elections at a special NEC in a few weeks from now.

The ANC secretary-general also said the party's executive received a report from its economic transformation subcommittee on the implementation plans and funding mechanisms for the national infrastructure recovery programme as a driver of economic recovery and transformation.

He said the NEC urged the government to complete its recovery and reconstruction plan, centred on a massive infrastructure programme.

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