Sunday, February 22, 2009

ANC 'has lost moral authority'

The ANC has consistently shrugged off political scandal, but with a strengthened opposition field nipping at its heels, the Carl Niehaus bombshell has caused it further embarrassment, with its leader Jacob Zuma due to go on trial in August.

Former chief party spokesperson Niehaus has admitted to forging signatures of government officials to secure a loan for his debt-ridden lifestyle, owing large sums of money, lying about degrees and sitting on various boards.

The most damning allegation for the ANC, however, was that it was aware of the forgery matter before appointing the former diplomat to be one of the main faces of its campaign for the April 22 polls.

"Despite purportedly being aware of his fraudulent conduct and unsustainable lifestyle, they elected to use him as party spokesperson," political commentator Michael Trapido recently wrote.

"Throwing him head-first into the build-up to the election battlefield was at best risky and at worst - as it is proving - calamitous."

Closing ranks around Zuma
The monolithic former liberation movement has had its share of embarrassment in recent years, often closing ranks around those tainted by fraud and corruption, most notably the hugely popular Zuma.

But now, with a dented image and facing a confused, angry public, the party which swept Nelson Mandela to power has been forced to become more sensitive about how it appears to voters.

Initially cautiously vowing to redeploy Niehaus who was Mandela's former spokesperson and jailed for nearly eight years for his opposition to apartheid, it accepted his resignation this week.

"Obviously the ANC is not very comfortable with these things that are happening. I think there should be unhappiness in terms of these events and their political implications," said analyst Bennitto Motitsoe.

"Voters, who have always trusted the ANC as the pioneer of this new democracy, are beginning to ask questions of leadership discipline which is disconcerting," said Motitsoe.

"The questions are not about policy and ideology, but about the conduct of leaders, those who are elected."

Saga confirms 'rot' in ANC
Opposition parties have been quick to make political mileage out of the scandal in a bid to rubbish the ANC's 2009 election promise to stamp out corruption.

The Congress of the People (Cope), a group of former ANC members looking to poach voters in April, attacked its rival for being "happy to harbour criminals", saying that the "saga confirms the rot" in the party.

The 2009 election is set to be the most fiercely contested since the ANC ended whites-only apartheid rule in 1994.

The heated campaign period last month saw media reports that ANC deputy head and President Kgalema Motlanthe had impregnated a young woman. The woman later confessed the claim was a lie.

The ANC, which won nearly 70% of the vote in 2004 and remains the April poll favourite, this week urged "deeper policy debates" rather than an attack on party failures.

But for political analyst Dirk Kotze, the ANC opened a Pandora's Box by wanting to carry Zuma to the presidency at all costs despite him facing charges of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.

"What the ANC suffers from ... is the fact that through Zuma, and because of Zuma, they have lost the moral authority to talk about these things," he told AFP.

"That will follow Zuma right through his presidency."

1 Opinion(s):

Vince R said...

My, how stupid the elect are to have been duped for so long by this bunch of corrupt criminals. SA will get exactly what it deserves in these elections; with the oppossition as fragmented and limp wristed as ever, who can expect better? And don't even mention COPE. I can only say these words: Alan Poesak and Bishop Dandala. It helps me accept the English Winter and world recession with zen-like joy.