16/12/2017 08:18 SAST | Updated 16/12/2017 08:36 SAST

Can The ANC Get Rid Of Its Mafias?

Despite all the revelations of how state-owned enterprises or the security services have manipulated contracts, it's business as usual for the ANC.

Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta at the ANC's elective conference on December 17, 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa.
Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali
Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta at the ANC's elective conference on December 17, 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa.

The image below of Durban businessman and President Jacob Zuma's alleged former employer Roy Moodley at the ANC conference yesterday speaks a thousand words. In addition to the revelation in Jacques Pauw's book The President's Keepers that Moodley paid Zuma a salary while he was the leader of the country, he is also involved in any number of dodgy deals.

Roy Moodley, who, according to Jacques Pauw, paid President Jacob Zuma a salary for four months after he became president, chatting to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte and checking in for #ANC54 at UJ earlier.

Yet, here he was registering as an SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco) delegate to the ANC conference. Moodley is not well-known for civic activism.

It's unlikely to happen this year, but at the party's last elective conference at Mangaung in 2012, the Gupta brothers were all over the meeting dressed in party colours.

This illustrates that mafias of capture or even organised crime have infiltrated the ANC. Can the ANC get rid of these mafias to undertake the renewal it needs to secure its future in government?

It will be hard, says ANC NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe. Despite all the revelations of how state-owned enterprises or the security services have manipulated contracts, Netshitenzhe says it is business as usual. "Most of the things that happened have continued. It's happening in various government departments. [It's happening] in applications for mining rights. All the trends are continuing."

Unless there is substantive change, he predicts the "complete capture of Luthuli House".

How did it start? Netshitenzhe coined a phrase to explain how the ANC was being reshaped and distorted by money, by its access to resources and state careers when it got into power. He called it the "sins of incumbency" where the ability to dish out patronage was harming the ANC. Since he first revealed the trend in 2012, the pattern has entrenched itself and hardened where mafias like those linked to the Guptas and to Moodley have engaged and infiltrated the ANC.

In Crispian Olver's book How To Steal A City – The Battle For Nelson Mandela Bay, the writer documents in detail how the logic of the ANC has changed from one of a liberation movement to one that coheres around syndicates or factions who organise almost only around the access to resources.

He writes that "Maria [a city politician] told me about a web of corruption that worked on multiples levels. Pulling the strings were ANC regional politicians, mainly from a faction known as the Stalini group, who controlled the metro council.

"Abetting the corruption was a set of powerful, strategically positioned city officials and political staffers, whose real bosses were the not the City Manager or the Mayor but rather ringleaders outside government," writes Olver.

Big state projects such as planning and the bus rapid transit system were hijacked by outside interests, writes Olver. They syphoned out billions from the metro council and used these to build patronage networks.

This is a microcosm of a pattern happening all over the country. The story of the Guptas is similar, but at a bigger scale: it operated at a national level and sought to leverage political influence to build a massive fortune wherever the state or state-owned enterprises had big spending or revenue lines.

Moodley's businesses operate in the same way – by using his access to provincial politicians and police officers in Durban to win contracts and to keep the law from his door.

As Moodley arrived brazenly at the ANC conference yesterday, weeks after the revelations about him in Pauw's book rocked the country, it felt like the ANC would not be able to shake its mafias. But Netshitenzhe says "there are positive noises". What are these?

The ANC's Integrity Committee's decisions now can't be countermanded as they have been in the past. The Integrity Committee is an ANC body, which can investigate corruption and ethical breaches by members. "Now there is a proposal to codify the Integrity Committee in the Constitution," he says.