|July 4, 2005
ANC leaders call for return to moral standards of the struggle
The ANC's top brass has laid down the law on corruption, proposing new regulations to prevent public office from being used for self-enrichment. They called for a return to the moral standards of the pre-1994 era. ANC president Thabo Mbeki and Secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe discussed the subject at the party's National General Council (NGC) in Tshwane. Mbeki called on party members and leaders to abide by their party oath to join the ANC "without motives of material advantage or personal gain". "I also trust that all of us remain committed to live up to these principles and objectives in everything we do from day to day," he said.
Mbeki said ANC members needed to be "no less principled and no less committed" than party stalwarts of previous generations who, through their lack of self-interest, had "never asked for any material reward for the things they did over many decades to help bring about our emancipation". The ANC, he said, had to ensure that the confidence that 70% of the electorate had in the ANC was "not misplaced". "All of us have to... ensure that everything we do here... and everything we will do afterwards does not betray the confidence of the people in our movement, or disappoint their expectations," Mbeki told delegates.
In his organisational report, Motlanthe said too many ANC members were betraying the party's history and principles. "Many of us appear only too quick to sacrifice the moral and ethical standards that have characterised our movement. Moral degeneration, linked to the accumulation of and control over resources, is not a consequence that we can accept, since it threatens to extinguish the torch of freedom that our people have carried for so long," Motlanthe explained. Problems of corruption, he said, were "apparent at local, provincial and national level". "Whether it be councillors, mayors, municipal managers, MECs or ministers, directors-general or cabinet ministers: none of us can avoid the severe challenge posed to the movement. Both new and seasoned members are equally prone and vulnerable to the tempting prospects that come with public office," Motlanthe noted. He said in communities where the government was the only employer of note, the battle for ascendancy to positions from which patronage could be dispensed had had "particularly acute" consequences.
Motlante suggested the ANC needed to discuss how to stop those leaving the government from using state resources to feather their nests in later life. He called for an automatic review by a dedicated government agency every time a public servant or public representative left office and opened a business in the same line of work. He also came down hard on some ANC provincial structures, arguing that, in the Western Cape for example, much of the internal conflict in the party stemmed from tensions over the dispensing of patronage. Motlanthe also cited the ANC in Mpumalanga for "fraudulent membership practices" ahead of party elections. Branches in many parts of the country, he said, were in conflict because of cynical self-interest on the part of leaders.
(The Sunday Times, Johannesburg)