Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Lure of corruption' dogs ANC

Joel Netshitenzhe, the departing government policy chief, has warned that corrupt practices in the ANC might reach a "tipping point" if not stopped with all the power of society and by the ruling party itself.

'If you don't nip (corruption) in the bud, it might start to threaten the body politic'


On the lure of corruption, he said the ANC was having difficulty finding cadres who would resist this..

"I would not want to talk Armageddon - the end-of-the-world battle between good and evil - but if you don't nip (these practices) in the bud, they might start to threaten the body politic," he said.

In addition to corruption, there was a danger posed by the ANC's attempt to micro-manage government - a warning Netshitenzhe also sounded at a party meeting in Gauteng last week.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, he spoke in defence of the presidency of Thabo Mbeki and that of Jacob Zuma.

Restructuring the Office of the Presidency under Zuma, which led to the splitting of the policy unit Netshitenzhe headed, was necessary to strengthen government, he said.

Netshitenzhe described as "far-fetched" speculation that the minister of national planning, Trevor Manuel, could be forced to quit by Cosatu's public attacks on him.

"There might be a bit of discomfort in the sense that there are those attacks from quarters that are supposed to be allies, and of course there is a need for consistent defence for his person and the institutions he heads, but I think he will ride the wave."

Netshitenzhe said the functions performed by the policy unit he headed would now be performed by Manuel and Collins Chabane, the minister of performance monitoring and evaluation.

He said attacks by trade union federation Cosatu on Mbeki over the "centralisation of power" had been "personalised".

"When issues are discussed at the level of principle there is a recognition that all developmental states need a strong centre. But when they start personalising, they ignore that principle," he said.

Netshitenzhe rejected claims by Cosatu and the SA Communist Party that they had not been consulted on Manuel's vision for his ministry. He said that the two organisations did not attend the ANC's economic transformation committee meeting - which they were meant to - on the day the document was discussed.

He also defended the Presidency's decision to initiate policy decisions. It was not wrong for the ANC to initiate policy if it had the capacity, "but you can't say as a matter of principle, the 1.3 million public servants ... should sit and wait for the initiation of policies from elsewhere".

On the lure of corruption, he said the ANC was having difficulty finding cadres who would resist this, despite the fact that the party had spoken against corrupt practices at national conferences and had even resolved to give birth to a "new person" - the cadre whose only interest was to serve the people.

The difficulties faced by the ANC stemmed from the fact that the party was being used by its members to escape poverty.
"Beside the pull of crass materialism, there is the reality of the levels of poverty and inequality at a local level, such that being elected a branch chairman and later a councillor, can be a dividing line between being totally unemployed and a middle-class existence."

Netshitenzhe said the failure to find the "new cadre" was making it difficult to achieve the ideal national democratic society envisioned in the ruling party's policies.

"My view is that the socialist system collapsed in part because of this problem.

"As with the changes we are introducing in South Africa, you rely on a cadreship to swim against the tide of negative tendencies that are there in the society you are trying to change." - The Times

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