It is often said that integrity leaves on horseback. But that is not all: integrity also arrives on foot. It may disappear quickly, but it arrives slowly and takes a long time to build up… When someone’s integrity is in question or tarnished, the grounds for trust collapse. This brings about a trust deficit between the people who bestowed stewardship of their freedom in the ANC. Choices will have to be made between an integritous ANC cadre and one who stumbles occasionally
Political parties form a cornerstone of democratic society. They aggregate the interests of the public, articulate them in the form of policy options and provide structures for political participation (Kelly & Ashiagbor, 2013).
Most people (and comrades) are moral. They are not criminals advocating unethical behaviour (ANC Ethical Transformation document, 1998). However, it will be naïve not to spell out the dangers which proximity to power present to capitalist greed. There are two interrelated dimensions to gatekeeper politics: spoils consumption (the use of control over public resources for private ends); and crony capitalism (the use of connections to public authority to facilitate private capital accumulation). The importance of securing access to public authority through ANC channels provokes intense factional struggles for positions of influence and power within the party. However, this extends well beyond the predatory struggles of a few powerful elites (Beresford, 2015).
The challenges facing Africa’s foremost liberation movement is no different to those faced by other organizations of people’s power. For example, Mao Tse-tung in 1951 started a campaign known as the ‘Three-Antis’ directing towards embezzlement, waste and bureaucracy. The rudimentary objective was to ‘frighten’ all public officials with access to government money from pocketing it. This campaign was augmented in 1952 by the ‘Five-Antis’ focusing on private business people (with patrimonial state relations), and targeted crimes such as bribery, tax evasion, pilfering state property, cheating and stealing economic information (Chang & Halliday, 2005). Today the People’s Republic of China still has an integrity programme which seeks to undermine both the ‘tiger and the fly’ in its anti- corruption efforts.
Our integrity is not only determined by our own perspective, but more importantly, also by that of others. And these two perspectives are not necessarily the same; they may be at odds. How people see their own integrity therefore tells us nothing about how others see it.
The introductory titular deliberation whether the Congress Party or Indian National Congress could be revered to as the Creator, Preserver and (potential) Destroyer of the Indian State shall hint at a possible viewpoint from which this party can be examined (Dohrmann, 2017). It is an objective reality that the ANC, as the steward of the National Liberation Movement is both the architect and master-builder in the construct of the democratic state. The state is the sum aggregate of the people’s grievance. And is a microcosm of the National Democratic Society, which we seek to build. Our organisation has witnessed the ‘ebbs and flows’. More pertinently, it has been prone to many pitfalls ordinarily besieged a liberation movement. The debate on the best instrument through which to mitigate these numerous challenges, and to self-correct, must be appreciated.
The ANC’s own document entitled “Organisational Renewal – Building the ANC as a movement for transformation and a strategic centre of power”, requires a substantive appreciation of the centrality of revolutionary morality, simply defined as integrity.
ANC’s interlocutor to integrity preservation
It is often said that integrity leaves on horseback. But that is not all: integrity also arrives on foot. It may disappear quickly, but it arrives slowly and takes a long time to build up.
The ANC is confronted with an objective reality that it cannot continue. Some amongst us may even ask ‘Et alors? – so what?’
The National Integrity Committee (hereafter referred to as the IC) of the ANC has its genesis from the call at the ANC’s National General Council (NGC) meeting held in 2010. This call was part of the broader call for organisational renewal and modernisation of the movement. At the time the movement was already experiencing some dangerous emerging tendencies such as factionalism, corruption, complacency and numerous other sins of incumbency that was causing serious reputational damage to Brand-ANC.
Thus the IC was established as one of the important interlocutors for organisational renewal. The purpose of the IC must therefore be seen within the broader context of organisational renewal and one of a myriad of tools to assist in addressing the dangerous trends facing the organisation.
Following the NGC’s 2010 call, the ANC’s 53rd National Conference passed a resolution that laid the policy basis for the establishment of the IC. It was agreed that the IC would consist of veterans of the movement. The spirit of this decision was that it was assumed that veterans were the least prone to factional and or business interests because of their historical revolutionary morality, ethics and organisational discipline. Thus, in March 2013 the NEC established the IC and appointed its members. The NEC was also mandated to develop the IC terms of reference. These should with hindsight have included sufficient detailed on the IC’s policies, regulations and standard operating procedures, but did not.
At the 54th National Conference the IC’s role was augmented when it was included as a constitutional structure in terms of rule 24.1 and 24.2 read together with rule 25.17.4 of the ANC Constitution. Rule 25.17.4 broadens the powers of the ANC to take disciplinary steps against members where the alleged misconduct is not specifically defined in the constitution but is deemed by the IC to be immoral and / unethical and which ‘’brings or could bring the ANC into disrepute’’. Thus this rule grants the IC the power to define what constitutes unethical and or immoral conduct.
- IC Challenges, Weaknesses & Threats
Despite the noble intentions since its establishment, the IC has experienced numerous challenges at a conceptual, legislative, policy, resource, systems and process level. These challenges have negatively affected the operationalisation of the IC and in turn it has negatively affected perceptions about the IC. These includes, but is not limited to:
- The IC mandate was very broad with insufficient detail in respect of its constitutional mandate read together with its terms of reference;
- The IC has disregarded the rules of natural justice in some cases. The IC recommendations in most cases have legal implications for the ANC as it impacts on possible future disciplinary processes. The IC is part of a quasi-investigative and quasi-judicial process since it deals with complaints that may amount to misconduct;
- The IC does not have subpoena powers to summon witnesses and the accused as its dependent on voluntary disclosure;
- There seems to be policy duplication, policy confusion and an operational overlap between the IC process and that of the National Disciplinary Committee (NDC), with particular reference to the NDC Initiator or Presenter in the disciplinary process (DC). In practise the IC seems to have the same investigative or enquiry function to that of the DC presenter. Since the IC’s establishment, when matters are referred by the NEC to the IC, the NEC waits on the IC findings and recommendations before deciding to refer it to the DC presenter to prosecute.
Theoretically this should not be a problem. However, the roles, responsibilities and delegation of functions should be clearly defined in the constitution. Consideration should be given to the IC assuming the investigative arm of the DC and the presenter the prosecutorial arm; and
- The IC did not necessarily interview witnesses that could have exonerated and or substantiated the version of the ‘comrade in-conflict with morality’, indicating an adversarial case building approach rather than one that seeks to establish the truth on a balance of probabilities.
Eighteen months after NASREC, most of the challenges referred to above came again to the fore when the IC investigated and recommended that 23 ANC members on the list of Parliament not be deployed. The body of evidence indicates a dangerous pattern emerging of the investigative processes and evidentiary collection processes upon which its findings are made are still fraught with procedural and substantive weaknesses. This includes amongst others allegations of taking the media into confidence on “comrades in-conflict with morality”.
Not adhering to the basics of enquiring from the affected comrades (Audi Alterim Partem rule) allowing the “accused” to state put their side of the issue. The case of our Deputy President (DP) is a widely publicised example which set the cat amongst the pigeons’. The DP’s insistence that he would not be sworn in as a Member of Parliament until he had an opportunity to be interviewed by the IC and explain himself created a serious political crisis for the ANC. The IC then reversed its recommendation against the DP and others.
- An International Best Practise – The Chinese Communist Party (CPC)
The Report of the 18th CPC National Congress asserted that fighting corruption and promoting political integrity – an issue of great concern to the people – is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the party. If it fails to handle this issue appropriately, it could prove fatal. Possibly even leading to its collapse and fall of the state (Jianyong, 2013).
The CPC provides us with a best practice. The highest internal control institution of the CPC is the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). The primary duty of this party organ is to enforce internal rules and regulations in combatting corruption and malfeasance in the Party. There is seemingly no separation between integrity and party discipline.
Although the commission is theoretically independent of the Party’s executive institutions such as the Central Committee and its Politburo, historically the work of the CCDI has been directed by the Party’s top leaders. However, under Xi Jinping, the CCDI has undergone significant reforms to make it more independent from party operations below the Central Committee.
Approximately 1000 people work for the CCDI and it is divided into the central and local levels. Beginning in 2014, CDI chiefs across the country began to shed concurrent executive positions which could create conflicts of interest. These changes were intended to free CDI resources to “solely focus on the work of enforcing discipline”.
At a local level, the main duties and responsibilities of local CDIs are to educate party members on their duties and rights, preserve party discipline, uphold party decisions, see that party members exercise their duties in accordance with the party constitution, examine cases and investigate corruption.
The jurisdiction of the party discipline inspection system mirrors that of the MOS (Ministry of Supervision – for the State), with the CCDI responsible for cases involving breaches of party discipline by party members. Like the MOS, the CCDI authority is limited to investigating allegations of corruption and breaches of party discipline. Thus, the CPC have in essence created a separation of powers between the investigator from that of the presenter or initiator and the presiding officer.
Patronage politics is not only a serious problem; it is also persistent (Ndletyana, Makhalemele & Mathekga, 2013). It is to prevent re-currency of patrimonial politics within bodies such as the IC, that lady justice is blindfolded; with the instruction note that decisions must apply to all, notwithstanding the seniority of one’s position in the organisation. A common set of rules should be applicable to all ANC members and the terms of reference and methodology of the IC should be authoritative in orientation.
We should consider the CPC option as it relates to the investigative mandate of the IC. That the IC becomes the investigative arm of the NDC. This will address the inherent tensions, policy and mandate anomalies between the NDC presenter and the IC and furthermore create a proper separation of powers between the investigative, prosecutorial and presiding arms of our disciplinary process.
The IC mandate should be strengthened to include prevention and detection as part of the broader organisational renewal mandate and to work closely with the political education, legal and monitoring and policy sub-committees in this regard.
- Code of Ethics for ANC members
Importantly, the ANC should first appreciate the fact that it cannot continue to hold itself to the minimum threshold which is applicable to ordinary South Africans. The mantra of presumption of innocence is quite an essential tool in our repository when assessing conformity to societal standards. However, when positioning the organisation as Leader of Society, the posture to be assumed should be of pro-actively engaging on a set of actions when accused either through the fourth estate, or identified to be in conflict with the law by any of the numerous statutory or judicial agencies.
The ANC Ethical Transformation document (1998) was instructive that “many respectable people (comrades) became deeply immoral, but cocooned in comfort and did not recognize their depravity.” It is highly unlikely that a comrade will subject themselves to voluntarily introspection, and as a consequent therefore self-correct.
Thus, the necessity of an ethical framework, through which all leaders should ascribed to is paramount. Some of its outline could include amongst others: –
Common principles and values which guide our actions
- Politicians must be independent and incorruptible;
- Those who exercise power must be bound by a higher moral standard;
- Politicians must respect the democratic principles of the rule of law;
- Politicians should be able to balance and weigh competing interests;
- Politicians need to be level-headed and not be consumed by extremism or populist simplicity;
- Politicians are there to serve the community; they should never forget that they are there at the service of the people and must have the common good in mind;
- Politicians need the courage to take unpopular decisions if these are in the interest of the people; they must be able to take long-term decisions if our democracies are to advance; and
- Compromise and consensus are an integral part of politics; personal attacks on internal opponents are not, however, and should have no place in political discourse;
Avoidance of conflict of interest
- There should be no waste of public funds;
- Donations and political support from private individuals and institutions are legitimate, if these are directed and sanctioned by the organisation;
- We take decisions based on our political convictions; they may not be influenced by a gift or favour; it is important to avoid conflicts of interest which could arise from financial or non-financial gifts or benefits; and
- Those who hold public office should orient themselves in their actions solely towards the benefit of the common good; one’s position as an elected official must never be used for private purposes;
Agreed Action when Integrity in Question
- On occasion of members being aware of any conduct which may call their integrity in question, the members should voluntary present themselves to the IC;
- On occasion of members being publicly labelled and accused by public enquiries of wrong-doing, such members, if not voluntarily, shall be obligated to account to the IC;
- On occasion of members being formally charged for a crime, such members will immediately create a social distance between themselves and the area of public office deployment (step-aside from all executive responsibilities); and
- On occasion of members being found guilty of any crime by a criminal court of law, they shall voluntary tender resignation of ANC membership;
The Correspondent Inference Theory, as developed by psychologists Edward Jones and Keith Davis, reveals different ways in which people interpret the behaviour of others. For instance, the greater the consequences of the behaviour for others, the greater the tendency to attribute the behaviour to a person’s intentions. In summation, negative conduct of one ANC member, negates from how society perceives all ANC members, thus having a negative multiplier effect on the Brand-ANC.
When someone’s integrity is in question or tarnished, the grounds for trust collapse. This brings about a trust deficit between the people who bestowed stewardship of their freedom in the ANC. Choices will have to be made, between an integritous ANC cadre and one who stumbles occasionally.
Equally so, if decisions are not taken with integrity, then the decision-making process itself lacks integrity. In this regard, the ANC’s Integrity Committee should be above reproached.