‘Classic whataboutism’- fierce ANC NEC ‘finger pointing’ after call for Motlanthe to probe corruption

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Masi Losi, Gallo Images, Sowetan

  • The ANC’s NEC meeting on Saturday heard calls for former president Kgalema Motlanthe to look into accusations against the party’s top brass. 
  • But the proposal was shot down as the NEC heard fierce debate about how it was unable to hold its own leaders accountable. 
  • ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa told the meeting that corruption was undermining government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A proposal to the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to have former president Kgalema Motlanthe lead an investigation and give direction on all accusations of corruption made against senior ANC leaders was shot down.

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The NEC met for its second day of a three-day meeting on Saturday where it heard fierce debate over its leaders being fingered in corruption.

An insider described the debate in the virtual meeting as a “classic case of whataboutsim” as different factions in the NEC pointed fingers at each other.

“When tender corruption comes up some one brings up state capture. When Ace Magashule and Estina comes up another person takes a swipe and mentions Bosasa,” said the ANC NEC member who asked not to be named. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa set the tone for the meeting in his political address on Friday where he said corruption was undermining government’s efforts to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the discussion quickly descended into mudslinging about how the party should deal with accusations made against its top leaders.

It also heard fierce debate over whether children and spouses of party leaders should be doing business with the state amid reports of family members of ANC politicians scoring tenders with the state amounting to millions of rand. 

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Finger pointing 

Three insiders told News24 that there was constant finger pointing about who was corrupt and who should step down.

It was then suggested to the meeting by former minister Derek Hanekom that Motlanthe be asked to investigate all accusations of corruption involving NEC members.

Others said ANC economy guru Enoch Godongwana endorsed the Motlanthe suggestion.

Two sources said this was echoed by former deputy minister Mondli Gungubele who said the NEC was unable to hold itself accountable because everyone was finger pointing. The sources cannot be named because they are not mandated to speak on matters pertaining to the NEC.

“The idea was that Kgalema come in as an elder to come and investigate all matters of corruption involving the NEC and then decides who should step down and how things should be processed,” a well-placed insider said.

The insider said the NEC meeting heard how there was too much finger pointing among those implicated in corruption.

“Every time someone is accused of wrongdoing they point to others and every one points to each other and then no action is taken. It is difficult to hold each other accountable,” the second NEC insider said.


There was a suggestion in the virtual NEC meeting that Motlanthe be supported by former president Thabo Mbeki in the probe but this was also shot down.

The suggestion to have Motlanthe lead an investigation into the party’s top brass came under intense attack, three sources said, as allies of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule rejected it.

“The main argument was that the NEC is a constitutional structure of the ANC and it must deal with matters involving its members. They totally rejected the suggestion to have Kgalema come in,” a third source said.

The source said that it appeared that those opposing the suggestion, anticipated that Motlanthe would come with a damning critique of the NEC and how widespread wrongdoing was among its members.

Motlanthe was also attacked in the meeting for having “his own interest”, the source said.

The person said it appeared unlikely that the proposal to have Motlanthe step in would be agreed to.

The second NEC member who spoke to News24 said it would be up to Ramaphosa’s summary of the discussion on Sunday that would determine what action was to be taken.

It is understood that Magashule suggested to the meeting that the ANC’s top six leaders sit and come up with names of party leaders in all provinces implicated in wrongdoing and who should step down.

And those names should be submitted to the ANC’s top six and its integrity committee.

But the two leaders who spoke to News24 appeared wary of that suggestion.

The NEC also heard some of its members bemoaning the inconsistency of the ANC’s integrity committee and how it was not sufficiently capacitated. 

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