OPINION ANC NEC brings hope to our people on fighting corruption

Just over a fortnight ago on Sunday evening many of our people were glued to their television sets when African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General, Cde Ace Magashule, briefed members of the media on the outcomes of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in Cape Town. The statement has brought back a sense of belonging to ANC members and the majority of our people to collectively confront the persisting challenges of greed, crime and corruption. 
There was, however, a very important fact in the NEC statement: comrades whow use this genuine fight against corruption to embark on a witch hunt and use that for political point scoring. It went like this: “The NEC has directed all its structures to act decisively against instances that openly undermine the unity of the movement and immediately whip into line deployed cadres who openly advance divisive counter-revolutionary agendas…”. These include comrades who work with the opposition, often using unfouded allegations that are not supported by any shred of evidence to smear fellow comrades’ names with the hope that those they discredit will eventually be removed from their elected and deployed positions. 

The NEC statement comes in the wake of explosive allegations of corruption in the Department of Health in our province Bokone Bophirima.  For far too long, some civil servants and leaders have thought that they can get their hands in the cookie jar without any dire consequences. So it is expected that the ANC that takes a firm stance against corruption will shake them. Our people have become more doubtful and pessimistic by observing how issues have been handled over a period of time. They have learnt that pretty words are not always to be believed because they were often not supported by action. And the ANC, in a way, has realized that it’s got to purify or cleanse itself, especially of corruption, perceived or real. ANC Veterans’ League Provincial Secretary, Ntate Martin Sebakwane, correctly pointed out that “ANC e nwele pilisi”, meaning that our movement has finally gotten to a point where it’s washing itself off the filth of corruption. 
We must all salute the decision taken by the ANC NEC when it recommitted itself to continuing with the campaign to restore the integrity and dignity of the State and of the ANC as an organization and further that the fight against all manifestations of corruption and state capture should be intensified. It’s necessary that we should also consider encouraging all other sectors of our society to follow this example so that we develop a truly national and sustained offensive to rebuild our country’s value system. 
In the context of this campaign, some members and leaders of the movement may find themselves called to account by law enforcement agencies, provincial legislatures and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry dealing with the matter of State capture. 
They should all see it as their responsibility to cooperate with these efforts – wherever they may currently be deployed - and not to seek to obstruct legitimate actions to eliminate these scourges. However, those implicated in any way should be presumed innocent until and unless proven otherwise.
These concerted efforts by the ANC should firstly put the sad chapter of systemic corruption and state capture behind us. They should also restore the legacy of Nelson Mandela and lastly, but most importantly, restore the ANC’s credibility as the leader of society and a strategic centre of power that must continue to act as a reference point for all conventions that enjoy high regard in society. Affected individual members of the ANC and society must not view this important but critical exercise as a witch-hunt, but a way to restore public confidence among our people. 
If we follow the NEC decision on this matter - and we should - we too should make the determination that corruption, which has reached alarming levels, is about two distinct matters: the law and social morality. What clearly must come first between these two is social morality because we’re an organisation that cares about our people.
It is sad that our youth grows up believing that to be deemed a success in our society, one must possess luxury cars whose brand names we are all familiar with. One must have a big and expensive house and dress in the finest garments available on the market. How these wordly possessions are acquired is what should worry us. To have acquired them without having worked for them is wrong and requires a lifestyle audit, unless one has won a lotto jackpot. 
In such a situation, to rob an old age pensioner of his or her pension becomes but a mere means of reaching the goal of self-enrichment through the shortest route possible. To steal public resources is merely to take advantage of the position you find yourself in, of access to these resources by virtue of being employed in the public service. 
Only denialists would fail to see that things that happen in our province and in the country everyday point precisely to this. Among many of our fellow citizens there is no ethical barrier that blocks them from wrong actions. The ANC NEC has brought hope to our people. The time for dilly-dallying has come to an abrupt end and those directly or indirectly involved in alleged acts of corruption have a responsibility to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to prove their innocence. 
The ANC would essentially be walking the talk and turning the tide against corruption in our public institutions. 
Oupa Matla is ANC Bokone Bophirima Head of Communications for Elections 2019 and writes in his own personal capacity