March 27, 2019
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Elders of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday criticized the inclusion of “tainted” former officials linked to corruption in the governing party’s list of candidates for a parliamentary election in May.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who succeeded scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as ANC leader in December 2017, has made fighting corruption a cornerstone of the election campaign as he tries to reverse a decline in voter support for his party.
But the inclusion this month of figures like former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and ex-mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane in the ANC’s election list has raised doubts about whether the party’s rank and file back Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption message.
“Those who are tainted and implicated should not stand for nominations and should not be part and parcel of those who are in the list,” ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala told reporters.
Zikalala and other ANC veterans – often seen as the moral compass of Africa’s oldest liberation movement – said those accused of wrongdoing should ask for their names to be removed from the ANC’s parliamentary list, even if ANC branch members want them in the country’s legislature.
An ongoing presidential inquiry into state corruption – called “state capture” under Zuma’s tenure – has heard evidence that Gigaba and Zwane helped the Gupta family, friends of Zuma, enrich themselves.
Gigaba and Zwane, who deny wrongdoing, were not available for comment on Wednesday.
The election list matters because it determines which ANC politicians will make it into the next parliament.
Ramaphosa will have to choose almost all the members of his next cabinet from among those lawmakers, if the ANC wins a majority, as it has done at every election since the end of apartheid in 1994.
ANC elders became increasingly vocal about corruption towards the end of Zuma’s nine-year tenure, saying the former president and his close allies had tarnished the reputation of the ANC, a charge denied by Zuma.
They have praised Ramaphosa’s pledge to clean up the party’s image but say more progress needs to be made.
“We are dealing with the people that have disgraced the name of the organization,” said Major General Jackie Sedibe, another elder, on Wednesday. “They must do the right thing now and not stand for the election.”
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Frances Kerry)