7 of the worst: How the ANC rewards corruption
by The Editor
FEATURE: Jacob Zuma yesterday used his speech to the ANC’s 2012 policy conference to speak out against what he called ‘alien tendencies’ in the party – things like corruption and the abuse of power. Who did he think he was kidding? Zuma has himself rewarded those very things. By way of illustration, here is a list of seven ANC MPs, all found guilty in the Travelgate scandal, all re-elected, most rewarded with promotion (by Zuma) and including their salaries – so you can see just how much political loyalty costs.
7 of the worst: How the ANC rewards corruption
By: Gareth van Onselen
27 June 2012
In his address to the ANC’s 2012 policy conference yesterday, Jacob Zuma stated that, if the ANC was to remain a party dedicated to the vision of “a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa”, it needed to do the following:
“To maintain this character the ANC should be able to cleanse itself of alien tendencies which range from wanton ill-discipline to those linked to incumbency. These tendencies include social distance, patronage, careerism, corruption and abuse of power; ineffective management of the interface between the movement and the state; a flawed approach to membership recruitment and a decline in ideological depth amongst cadres.”
It was a curious sentiment from a man who has surrounded himself with miscreants; and that is putting it mildly, he is something of a miscreant himself.
Indeed, at the heart of almost any national decision the ANC makes, that rewards political loyalty over excellence and graft over goodwill, there you will find Jacob Zuma. Not that one can excuse the broader party mind you; it too, at every level, routinely rewards the crooked and corrupt with position and privilege.
How one does one best illustrate the problem? One of the more powerful examples is the Travelgate Scandal and the ANC’s response to it. In particular, by looking at those national ANC members found guilty of defrauding the public and their rise through the party since the point is well made.
Thus, what follows is a brief description of each of seven ANC members of parliament found guilty of fraud and who still enjoy current prominent positions in public service. Jointly and separately they demonstrate that, contrary to Jacob Zuma’s principled rhetoric, “careerism, corruption and abuse of power” and the “ineffective management of the interface between the movement and the state” are not “alien tendencies”, as Zuma pretends, but standard practice, both for him and the party he leads.
Travelgate was a long-lasting and complicated scandal. Here is a very short concise summary, by way of background:
From beginning to end, it ran from July 2004 through September 2010, when the last ANC MP accused pleaded guilty. In the middle, in 2009, was a national election. The ANC took exactly zero notice of the various accusations against its members when choosing its election lists. Essentially, MPs had misused travel vouchers, issued to them to visit their constituencies, to go on holidays or trips unrelated to work, at a total cost of approximately R18million (in 2004). In some instances travel agencies – the middle men as it were – had inflated claims without MPs knowing and pocketed the excess. So they too were guilty.
PricewaterhouseCoopers audited the problem and the National Prosecuting Authority questioned some 135 MPs, resulting in roughly 80 being implicated and asked to repay monies deemed to have been misused. About 30 were charged, across a range of parties, the overwhelming bulk coming from the ANC. About half of those implicated had not stood for election in 2004 but the other half were still serving. Of them, a number of ANC MPs agreed to a plea bargain with the state as an admission to guilt, and fined. A number of travel agency employees were also arrested, charged and prosecuted.
The entire affair was marked by obfuscation and secrecy from the ANC, which protected senior figures implicated, allowing easier targets to take the fall. It used parliament to cover up and hide as much as it could and, at every step, indeed even after a number of MPs pleaded guilty, refused to take party disciplinary action against them – this despite an express undertaking to this effect. A 19 September 2004 the ANC National Executive Committee statement, with regards to Travelgate, said:
“…the ANC will institute disciplinary action against any of its MPs or other members found guilty of wrongdoing.”
Nonsense, of course. It reneged and did no such thing. Indeed, as we shall see, instead, it rewarded every one of the seven with continued high level public positions, even promotion. In August 2011, the Speaker Max Sisulu revealed that parliament had failed to recoup some R12 million owed to it by errant MPs and had decided to write the debt off. This brought an end to one of the ANC’s most shameful episodes. A huge scandal would become defined by cover-ups, political protection and, ultimately, reward for those found guilty and still ostensibly serving the public interest.
Here are the facts.
The ANC’s seven crooked Travelgate MPs
Below are seven ANC MPs found guilty. In each case I have set out what they were found guilty of, their current position (as well as any promotions they have received – although the fact that they draw public money as a salary at all would seem reward enough) and the cost of their salary to the public. At the end, I have estimated the total cost to the public of their combined salaries since the beginning of 2011 (which is generous – most were convicted in early 2010).
I used the 2011/2012 salary bands, as determined by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers to approximately determine the salary of each person. Obviously these would have increased over time but, in a general sense, that is fairly set off by the fact that I only calculated the cost from the beginning of 2011.
Name: Bhengu, Ruth
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud (R43 000). Fined R45 000 or two years’ imprisonment and given a three-year suspended sentence.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: 96th on the ANC’s national to national list.
Current position: ANC Member of Parliament. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport – a 2009 promotion under Zuma, from the position of ordinary MP. Member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
Annual Salary: R1 118 654.00 as a Committee Chair.
Name: Booi, Mnyamezeli
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud. Fined R50 000, or five years’ jail and given until January 2014 to pay the money in monthly instalments of R1000.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: 65th on the ANC’s national to national list.
Current position: ANC Member of Parliament. Up until earlier this year and from the 2009 election, Booi served as the Chairperson of Portfolio Committee as Defence (again, a Zuma promotion). He was replaced after a clash with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and now serves as an ordinary MP. Member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
Annual Salary: R843 017.00 as a Member of Parliament.
Name: Dlamini, Bathabile
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one count of fraud (R254 000 service benefits/mileage claims) and was sentenced to a fine of R120 000.00 or 5 years imprisonment and a further 5 years imprisonment suspended conditionally for 5 years.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: 16th on the ANC’s national to national list.
Current position: Minister of Social Development. ANC Member of Parliament. From 2009 through to a cabinet shuffle in 2010, Bathabile served as Deputy Minister of Social Development, a Zuma appointment. Member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
Annual Salary: R1 901 699.00 as a Minister.
Name: Dlulane, Beauty
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one count of fraud (R289 000 service benefits/mileage claims) and was sentenced to a fine of R120 000.00 or 5 years imprisonment and a further 5 years imprisonment suspended conditionally for 5 years.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: 58th on the ANC’s 2009 national to national list.
Current position: ANC Member of Parliament. Chairperson of the ANC’s woman’s caucus.
Annual Salary: R843 017.00 as a Member of Parliament.
Name: Molebatsi, Angelina
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud. Fined R25 000, or three years in jail, plus an additional five years suspended.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: 84th on the ANC’s national to national list.
Current position: ANC Member of Parliament.
Annual salary: R843 017.00 as a Member of Parliament.
Name: Sosibo, Elsie Jabu
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud (R241 000). Fined R100 000 or five years jail, suspended for five years.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: Elected on the provincial to national list.
Current position: ANC Member of Parliament and Whip in the National Assembly
Annual Salary: R934 285.00 as a Member of Parliament and Whip.
Name: Thompson, Barbara
Travelgate conviction: Pleaded guilty to one count of fraud (R170 000 service benefits/mileage claims) and was sentenced to a fine of R90 000.00 or 5 years imprisonment and a further 5 years imprisonment suspended conditionally for 5 years.
Position on ANC’s 2009 election list: 48th on the ANC’s national to national list.
Current position: Deputy Minister of Energy. ANC Member of Parliament. From 2009 through to her appointment at Deputy Minister in Zuma’s cabinet in November 2010, she served as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. So she has been doubly rewarded.
Annual salary: R1 556 089.00 as a Deputy Minister.
There were other ANC public representatives who admitted to guilt but were never disciplined by the ANC. Some stood for election in 2009 and missed the cut (like Patrick Maloyi), others had jobs in the public service (like Bruce Kannemeyer, who was serving as a municipal manager). Those listed above merely represent those elected to national office.
Between them, there is a Minister and a Deputy Minister, a Committee Chair, two former Committee Chairs, a Whip in the National Assembly, three ANC National Executive Committee Members and all of them Members of Parliament: not a bad haul for seven people who defrauded the public.
If one takes their collective salaries for the 18 months to date and from January 2011, it works out as follows:
• Bhengu: R1 677 981.00
• Booi: R1 264 525.00
• Dlamini: R2 852 548.00
• Dlulane: R1 264 525.00
• Molebatsi: R1 264 525.00
• Sosibo: R1 401 425.00
• Thompson: R2 334 133.00
• Total: R12 058 667.00
Roughley R12 million – ironically, almost the same amount parliament wrote off. Now, that is not money lost – someone would have to occupy all those positions even if these seven had not been re-elected – but it is an extraordinary amount to spend on people who have abused the public faith. Certainly it is to their benefit. And the more they abused that faith, the more they seem to have been rewarded. Bathabile Dlamini, now a Minister no less, was convicted of one of the biggest amounts out of the seven – fraud to the value of R254 000.
Of course there are a great many other examples of the ANC accommodating and explaining away corruption. This is just one, contained, example. But it does make the point.
What on earth is Jacob Zuma talking about, when he describes corruption as an ‘alien tendency’? He has rewarded those tendencies handsomely.
The United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal makes for a powerful point of comparison. 25 public representatives involved either resigned, retired or announced they would not stand again, including the Speaker of the House of Commons, on the back of a very similar set of circumstances, often involving fraud on a far smaller scale. That is, when they weren’t convicted or suspended.
Not the ANC though. They do things differently. For the ANC, there is no relationship between public trust, its perceived faith in public representatives or the institutions in which they work, and the consequences that should follow. It matters not what the public might think. Or that their faith has been abused. Remember, we can’t even directly elect representatives in South Africa. The ANC has used this to shield those implicated, hide problems, protect the powerful and, ultimately, reward those with enough patronage. More often than not, it’s the President doing the rewarding.
These seven MPs are illustrative of a deep, well set and fundamental disease, and it’s not going anywhere – it’s quite at home in the ANC, warm and welcoming as that party is.
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Very interesting to compare the ANC and British MP’s outcome to the fraud charges. Also interesting to note that ANC ministers and MP’s earn substantially more than their counterparts in government in the UK. In our own Bitou Municipality a former Municipal Manager was rewarded for fraud and was earning more than the PM of Britain.
Of course then there is also Tony Yengeni that actually spent time behind bars and is also a member of the ANC NEC and Head of the ANC’s Political School. What a diappointing lot. And to think they govern. The electorate deserve better!
Etienne, unfortunately the way democracy works, the electorate deserve EXACTLY who they vote for.
Unfortunately people forget and these issues need to be republished on the front pages of the popular media. Thanks for reminding us; a national disgrace in any civilized society but part of the norm in the ANC.
Is it at all possible to make up a simplified version and distribute in by the thousand in squatter camps and similar areas?
Good Idea Charles…………..
Aaaargh. Reading about this leaves me fuming. The numbers are staggering for a country with so many destitute people. There’s got to be a way of redistribution from these idiots to the needy.
Dear Etienne, Helen, Voicy, Bernhard, Charles, Earl Rae and Jo, thank you for your comments. I think, in one way or another, all of you have expressed some outrage at the situation. And it is indeed outrageous. The cause, however, is endemic and that, for me, is the greater evil. Significantly, it is born of an attitude that long pre-dates Travelgate. In a 2003 interview about Tony Yengeni, with the M&G, and in response to the questions “Do you expect him to resign?”, then-ANC secretary general Kaglema Motlanthe said: “I believe he should do what is best in accordance with his own conscience. The ANC never abandons people. A saint is a sinner who is always trying to correct his ways.” That attitude breeds bad ethical behaviour. It creates a disjuncture between one’s own interests and the interests of the public and those institutions their representatives occupy. Inevitably the former trumps the latter and, before you know it, everything is about one’s own conscience. Actually, its about the public’s conscience and the principles and values that underpin the democratic order. I suspect that attitude is now so well entrenched the only way to overcome it, as Voicy alludes to, is to vote the ANC out of power. Gareth
oh my god!
Charles has hit the nail on the head. Your article, powerful and maddening, will not reach the majority of the voting public. I have just sent an email to the Carte Blanche team following –
Carte Blanche is amazing! Your superior investigative journalism uncovers corruption, injustice and people who are making a difference and brings it to your viewers.
The only problem is – your viewers are but a handful of citizens. The entire country should be able to view your stories, but DSTV is expensive.
My suggestion would be to sell your back shows to an SABC channel. By bringing the facts to the nation, you will be educating them in what the government is really doing with money which could be well spent on Education, Health, Transport, cleaning-up the environment,etc, etc.
Thank you for taking the time to read my email and for the excellent work that you do.
My question is – how do we make damned sure that every South African makes an informed decision at the voting stations?
Unfortunately, the ANC depends on the masses for their votes, the very same masses that does NOT pay taxes. I would love to see a campaign, even if it is an online campaign, to vote any party but the ANC…
Gareth, i see the situation around JZ as follows:
If you can draw up a balance sheet of ANC members starting from the top down, JZ himself and from most senior members to local level and allocate a score from 1 to 9 where 1 is most corrupt with criminal records to 9, least corrupt with least criminal records – perhaps even trustworthy, the result will be a very reasonable indication of my following statement.
The reason why JZ is being supported and will be elected as President for another term is nothing other than the following: “his support has changed from politically motivated to criminally motivated” – if they do not support him, they may all lose their jobs and fat can positions and even end up in jail under a “new leader”. Thus…while the criminal element in the ANC rules and have the majority vote, JZ will be in charge as he is their “insurance policy” to government on all levels. And… i dont see that this balance will change anytime soon as the “reasonable ones” in the ANC is too scared to stand their man because when JZ is re-elected, they will all be “downgraded” in the ANC and may even be replaced by his “criminal” buddies.
This is interesting. You don’t directly elect representatives? I’m wondering how it works. This can of scenerio erodes accountability from the parliament. It can only be worse here. In Nigeria, we directly elect MPs and it doesn’t stop them from being brazenly corrupt! It’s our hope that the new President doesn’t shield them, especially those from his party.
My name is Harry Charlton and at the time of Travelgate I was CFO to the RSA Parliament. Systems implemented by me allowed the detection of the Travelgate fraud. Suffice to say that the fraud was larger and went on for longer than the period I reported on. It also involved 350 then present and past MPs including 3 of Mbeki’s cabinet. Speaker Dr Ginwala and Secretary Mfenyana where emphatic in there support of my actions. They are to be commended. I was shot at and driven off the road. Eileen Fey of PWC as liquidator was superb. Sadly when Dingani replaced Mfenyana and Mbete replaced Gunwala the corruption was compounded. Disgracefully PWC terminated Eileen Fey and assisted in the cover-up. Although I kept winning in the Courts the ANC (via Parliament’s resources) kept wasting taxpayer money opposing me.
Clearly corruption is across all provinces and continues to increase post Travelgate days.
Sadly the present value of the Rand and RSA’s economy reflect the world’s view of South Africa. Increasing corrupt.
NOTE: Dingani was himself being investigated by the Scorpions for fraud before his appointment as Secretary replacing Mfenyana. Dingani later being fired for fraud.
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