Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has been the subject of news coverage involving private business development and immigration policy.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
Reprinted From the ANC Today
December 8, 2006
By President Thabo Mbeki
In its 26 November 2006 edition, the Sunday Times published an article written by Wisani wa ka Ngobeni, Dominic Mahlangu and Dumisane Lubisi, under the heading, "Gautrain: Who gets the gravy". The article said: "Two Cabinet Ministers and a deputy minister, as well as National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, have shares in the consortium that is building the high-speed Gautrain...
"The Sunday Times has established that Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Education Minister Naledi Pandor, and Deputy Minister of Health Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge stand to benefit from the Gautrain project. The two ministers sat in a Cabinet meeting that approved the project in December 2005 against the advice of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Transport...
"Mapisa-Nqakula and Mbete have shares in Dyambu Holdings, while Pandor is involved in Black Management Forum Investments (BFMI). Both companies and 11 others have a 25% stake - worth R5 billion - in Gautrain, through Strategic Partners Group, which is the empowerment partner in Bombela...The Gautrain saga comes amid criticism that large government tenders mainly benefit a well-connected elite."
On the same day this article appeared, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) issued a press statement in which it said: "The Congress of South African Trade Unions is outraged at the allegations in the Sunday Times that (Mapisa-Nqakula, Pandor, Madlala-Routledge and Mbete), and a long list of ANC officials, hold shares in Bombela consortium which is building and operating the Gautrain...
"Unless the comrades concerned refute these allegations, COSATU will view this as the weekly dosage we keep on reading underlining the crass materialism that seemingly is on the rampage...The question we have asked over and over again is why public representatives, who are very well paid, see it fit to involve themselves in all manner of get-rich-quick narrow BEE schemes?...
"Greed and selfishness have clearly overtaken the culture of service for our people...If the Sunday Times allegations are true, they powerfully reinforce the belief expressed in COSATU's recent Congress that worryingly growing numbers of ANC and government leaders are in the grip of a culture of personal self-enrichment...They have long abandoned the NDR that seeks to tilt the balance in favour of the working class for they are now capitalists themselves."
On 27 November, the SACP issued its own statement, in which it said: "The South African Communist Party is deeply disturbed and outraged at the fact that some of the shareholders and personal beneficiaries from the Gautrain Project are ministers of government. This indeed constitutes a very grave conflict of interests...We are outraged that (the Gautrain Project will)...personally benefit some of the already very well remunerated government ministers. This is simply not what the millions of our people fought and died for...
"The SACP wishes to strongly condemn this as the worst expression of what we have consistently warned against, parasitic capitalism. Parasitic capitalism is the use of one's public position to access resources for personal benefit at the direct expense of the overwhelming majority of the workers and the poor of our country."
Also on 27 November, the Democratic Alliance (DA) issued its own statement, saying: "Reports in the weekend press that two Cabinet Ministers, a deputy Minister and several others with potentially conflicting interests are among the shareholders of a consortium tasked with the already controversial Gautrain project need to be investigated urgently...
Consequently, the DA will request the Auditor-General to conduct a special investigation...We will also request the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to check the affected Members' declarations of interest."
The 1 December 2006 edition of the newspaper, The Star, reported that the leader of the DA, Tony Leon, had argued that "part of President Thabo Mbeki's legacy would be the speed with which corruption was allowed to flourish, because of the collapse of the boundaries between the ANC and the state...
"Referring to the prison contracts and the Gautrain as examples, Leon homed in on the abuse of public tenders by those who were related or politically connected to government ministers and MECs."
What the foregoing means is that during the dying days of the month of November 2006, the nation was presented with the fact of a new multi-party offensive against the ANC, composed of the Commercial Media (Sunday Times), the Democratic Alliance, the South African Communist Party, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
What brought these entities into a common multi-party offensive against the ANC is a shared conviction that:
-leaders of the ANC had been caught in the act of engagement in personal self-enrichment, contrary to what is required of them, that they should selflessly serve the people of South Africa;
-some among these leaders had abused their positions as members of government to ensure that the companies in which they are shareholders win the government tender for the construction of the Gautrain;
-these developments occurred against the backdrop of an entrenched perception in our country that ANC leaders, especially those deployed in government, systematically engage in corrupt practices, based on the abuse of state power, focused on self-enrichment;
-in these circumstances, it is up to the accused ANC leaders to prove their innocence, with no obligation on the part of the accusers to prove the correctness of their allegations of corrupt practice levelled against these leaders; and, unless official inquiries of one kind or another are instituted, consequent to the allegations, the accusers will continue to make the assertion that those they accuse of corruption, abuse of power and greed are guilty as alleged, until they themselves prove that they are innocent, regardless of the often-stated principle that whatever the nature of any allegations, those accused are innocent until they are proved to be guilty.
What therefore confronts us is a strange combination, however temporary, combining the Sunday Times and the DA on one hand, which occupy a particular portion of our national political spectrum, and the SACP and COSATU on the other, which occupy another, and diametrically opposed portion of our national political spectrum.
What has brought them together is a shared conviction that the ANC has allowed itself to be transformed into a ravenous monster controlled by individuals dedicated to the pursuit of personal wealth by "a well-connected elite", "ANC and government leaders (who) are in the grip of a culture of personal self-enrichment", beneficiaries of "parasitic capitalism", and people who have ensured "the collapse of the boundaries between the ANC and the state", enabling them to abuse state power for corrupt purposes, benefiting those "related or politically connected to government ministers and MECs".
This shared conviction is confirmed by the 1 December 2006 article in The Star to which I have referred. The article quotes Tony Leon as having said "when you practice cadre redeployment to the extent that the ANC has done...then you must not be surprised when you get the taint and the whiff of corruption surrounding everything."
The newspaper goes on to report that: "SA Communist Party general secretary Jeremy Cronin yesterday agreed with Leon. But he argued that cadre redeployment was not the major point of concern...but rather the collapse of boundaries between business and public office. 'The key boundary that has been crossed is the business/political boundary,' he said.
"Cosatu said yesterday it too was very concerned about the danger of government officials and ministers privately gaining from business, creating a conflict of interest. Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said it was important for the ANC to maintain the high standards of governance it had brought with it and not sink to the corruption levels prevalent during the apartheid era."
None of the accusers of our movement has asked the ANC whether the allegations made against its members and leaders are true or not. As we have already said, together, even though they have acted individually and separately, these came to the common conclusion that the ANC members and leaders concerned must be presumed guilty until they prove conclusively that they are innocent.
Notwithstanding this eminently strange behaviour, and indeed because of it, we must now state some of the facts relevant to the accusation levelled against our members and supporters, and, in reality, the ANC itself.
The Sunday Times article said the companies in which ANC and government leaders were involved were represented "through Strategic Partners Group, which is the empowerment partner in Bombela." We must therefore answer the question - what is the Strategic Partners Group (SPG)?
This information is easily available on the Gautrain website -www.gautrain.co.za. According to this information, "The Strategic Partners Group was formed in early 2002 by a group of 18 companies (not 13 as stated in the Sunday Times article), that represent broad-based interests of the previously disadvantaged communities...The member companies in the Group represent a wide range of South Africa's population, namely, the professionals, youth, women, organised black business, organised black managers etc...
"The SPG has as its vision the following: to create and maximise value for shareholders, the employees and the communities we serve; to ensure true black economic empowerment that does not benefit individuals only, but communities; to ensure profound and irreversible development in the communities we serve; to be the investment community's first choice which is able to bring the previously disadvantaged to the economic mainstream;...to play an active role in the rebirth of Africa through NEPAD."
With regard to Dyambu, the SPG website says: "Dyambu was founded in 1996 by a group of high profile and respected women in the black community. These women sought to create a formidable and accountable investment vehicle through its beneficiaries - women's groups, rural women and projects identified by women in the townships..."
Concerning the Black Management Forum Investment Company, it says: "BMFI is a company which is majority owned by the Black Management Forum, a Section 21 (non-profit) Company mainly responsible for leadership development and training of the Previously Disadvantaged Individuals...The (BMF) is actively involved in management and leadership development, in transforming the corporate landscape in South Africa, and in the training and development of scholars and management trainees."
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Baleka Mbete were indeed founding members of Dyambu, which was set up for the purposes stated above. Both of them, like others of their colleagues, have in reality not had any contact with Dyambu since 2000, and do not even own any share certificates. (Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge was not among those who established Dyambu.)
At the point when these founding members effectively ceased to play any role in Dyambu, because of internal problems in the company, they were working to establish a Trust that would receive the profits from Dyambu, which would be used to pursue the objectives we have already stated. These have absolutely nothing to do with transforming the women ANC leaders concerned into capitalists.
Precisely because these comrades are loyal, mature and leading cadres of our movement, they do not need anybody to educate them to oppose "parasitic capitalism". Over the years the senior women comrades who set up Dyambu have been as much part of our movement's fight against corruption and the abuse of state power as all other leaders of the ANC.
Like thousands of other members and supporters of the BMF, Naledi Pandor bought shares in BMFI long before she came into government. In this regard, she was responding to the appeal of the BMF to its members and others to contribute to the establishment of a successful commercial venture that would help the Forum to generate the financial resources it needs to realise its central goal of the deracialisation of the South African economy.
The fact of the matter is that like thousands of other black shareholders, Naledi Pandor holds a tiny fraction of the issued share capital of BMFI and would be exceedingly foolish to expect that the dividends that might one day flow from her minute ownership of BMFI could buy her even a month's supply of brown bread. And she is no fool!
As we have already indicated, Dyambu and BMFI are but two of the 18 black companies that constitute SPG, the BEE partner in the Bombela consortium that won the Gautrain contract. How anybody could come to the conclusion that any of the thousands of individual shareholders in these 18 companies could make a killing from the Gautrain contract beats all understanding!
The reality however, is that the accusers of the ANC were not about to allow facts to stand in the way of their determination to project the ANC as being nothing more than a cabal of mercenary politicians, posing as liberation fighters!
One of these facts is that the National Cabinet, on which Mapisa-Nqakula and Pandor serve, had absolutely nothing to do with the conceptualisation of the Gautrain project, the decision to implement it, the issuing of the tender, the adjudication of the bids, and the decision to award the Gautrain contract to the Bombela consortium. Others wiser than us will have to explain how our national Ministers managed to intervene in the Gauteng process to ensure the success of the Bombela consortium!
This process, in its entirety, was handled by the Gauteng provincial government. The national government was drawn into this matter simply because it became obvious that the Gauteng provincial government would not have the resources to implement the Gautrain project.
At this point, the national government also engaged the provincial government in discussions that sought to ensure that the Gautrain project was fully integrated within the national transport perspectives, one of whose central elements is ensuring that the millions of our working people have access to an efficient and affordable public transport system.
I have in the past made the point that a central and permanent feature of the racism experienced by black people over many centuries has been the stereotype that as black people we are inherently amoral and corrupt. Thus some in our country and elsewhere in the world know it as a matter of fact that our government is bound to be amoral and corrupt.
Because of this, it is very easy successfully to market all manner of deliberate falsehoods about the ANC and our government, counting on the stubborn persistence of an insulting stereotype to give credibility to the most outrageous untruths.
Volume 1, No. 43, 2001 of ANC TODAY carried a Letter from the President entitled "The truth stands in the way of the arms accusers". Responding to the detailed investigations and findings of the Auditor-General and others, the Letter discussed the absolute refusal by some in our country to accept that our government had not engaged in any corruption in awarding the primary defence contracts. I said, then:
"At the base of all this, lies the racist conviction that Africans, who now govern our country, are naturally prone to corruption, venality and mismanagement. It is therefore not very difficult to propagate the absolute falsehood and gross insult that our government is, necessarily and obviously, guilty of corruption with regard to the defence acquisition.
"As soon as the report of the investigators was issued yesterday, so soon did the campaign begin to discredit this report. The truth will not be allowed to stand in the way of what had to be proved - that Africans and black people in general are corrupt. The struggle for the creation of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society demands that we respond to this without equivocation."
The Gautrain story confirms the hard reality that as long as the racist conviction that Africans are naturally prone to corruption, venality and mismanagement persists, so long must we remain on guard to fight the canards that will be peddled, serving as media headlines with greater frequency than the summer rains.