Even though it was entirely predictable, the feeding frenzy over Covid19-related tenders among ANC-connected individuals is a filthy stain on our country in this time of crisis. I will be writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly today to request a snap debate on the matter, in which President Ramaphosa himself will have to come and answer for the behaviour of his party’s members and set out exactly how he intends to act against each and every implicated individual.
He must do so, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because he promised the nation four months ago that any such corruption would be met with strong action. On 23 March, the president stood on national television and solemnly vowed to South Africans that profiteering from the Covid19 pandemic would not be tolerated, and that anyone who did so would face serious consequences. In his televised address he said:
“I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests. We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.
I have directed that special units of the National Prosecuting Authority be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption. We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.”
But despite this grand rhetoric, our recent news has been awash with family members of the highest-ranking ANC politicians creaming profits off Covid19 tenders. At the rate at which these stories are breaking, it is possible that we have just seen the tip of the iceberg so far, but already we know of the following:
- President’s Ramaphosa’s son, Andile Ramaphosa, landed a R6 million contract to modify taxis in Gauteng to comply with Covid19 regulations.
- President Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko’s husband, Thandisizwe Diko, landed a R125 million contract to supply PPE.
- ANC secretary-General Ace Magashule’s sons, Tshepiso Magashule and Thato Magashule, landed Covid19 procurement contracts in the Free State to the value of R2.7 million.
- Former cabinet minister Minister Nomvula Mokonyane daughter, Katleho Mokonyane, landed a R3 million PPE contract despite her company only being six months old at the time.
If this is what we know of the involvement of the families of high-profile ANC members, one can only imagine what the picture looks like further down the line in ANC-run provinces and municipalities where tender corruption has become the very reason to run for public office. They now desperately try to cleanse the party’s image through Twitter hashtags, but these are stains that cannot be scrubbed clean.
The ANC has shown, again and again, that it simply cannot help itself. Where there is government-controlled money you will find cadres elbowing each other out of the way to grab what they can. And so the lure of billions or Rands of emergency Covid19 spending was always going to be too hard to resist, despite the president’s solemn promises in March. The rest of the world has to deal only with the coronavirus pandemic, but South Africa has to simultaneously deal with its very own epidemic of ANC corruption.
And while this looting of Covid19 funds is especially egregious, consider the recent histories of some of the implicated individuals listed above:
- The same Andile Ramaphosa who now landed a multi-million Rand Covid19 tender still has the massive Bosasa question mark hanging over his head, where he started receiving monthly payments from the corruption-tainted company the moment his father became president (and received his very own mysterious Bosasa payment).
- The same Tshepiso and Thato Magashule who now profited from Covid19 tenders were also heavily involved in their father’s shady dealings with the Guptas in the Free State during the State Capture saga, for which neither father nor sons have yet accounted.
- The same Katleho Mokonyane, daughter of the disgraced Nomvula Mokonyane, used to work with Bosasa’s Gavin Watson and was, along with her mother, a beneficiary of the corrupt company’s bribes to secure political influence.
This kind of corruption is baked into the ANC’s DNA. Access to tenders and subsequent price gouging are regarded as their deserved spoils of war. Compare this to the DA-run Western Cape, where all Covid19 procurement is now published online in a monthly report to ensure 100% transparency. The difference between the DA in government and the ANC in government could not possibly be more pronounced. It is the Capable State vs the Predator State.
South Africa will not make progress as long as the rot of ANC corruption continues to infect every aspect of government and service delivery. We will not make progress as long as we have a president who can only talk, but is incapable of any meaningful action.
However, he now has an opportunity to prove me wrong. I look forward to the president’s honest account in Parliament of his party’s looting, and his detailed plan of action to deal with all those involved.