May 22, 2024

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said Monday that six officials facing accusations of corruption have been included on its list of candidates for this year’s election, bringing more scrutiny on a party that already has had its reputation badly damaged by graft.

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula told reporters that four of the six were included provisionally and were still to be cleared by the party’s internal integrity committee having been implicated in a national commission of inquiry into corruption that exposed massive government graft during the administration of former President Jacob Zuma.

Another 14 officials implicated by the corruption inquiry were either disqualified from standing or were not nominated as candidates, Mbalula said, without disclosing their names.

The ANC has finalized a list of 284 candidates who are in the running to become lawmakers, and some of them cabinet ministers, following the May 29 national and provincial elections. President Cyril Ramaphosa also is on the list as he seeks a second and final term.

How many of the ANC candidates are installed as lawmakers will depend on how many votes the party receives in an election that analysts predict will be its toughest since coming to power at the end of apartheid in 1994.

South Africans vote for parties and not candidates in national elections and parties receive seats in Parliament depending on their share of the vote. Lawmakers then elect the president.

Corruption is a burning issue in South Africa and is one of the factors responsible for the ANC’s decline in support.

The ANC’s list was closely watched for signs of whether the party would take a strict stance with regards to the allegations after Ramaphosa made fighting corruption one of his priorities when he was elected to succeed Zuma in 2019.

Ramaphosa has had his own reputation tarnished by a separate scandal involving more than $500,000 in cash that was stashed in a couch at his ranch and stolen in 2020. The theft only came to light in 2022.

The four ANC candidates provisionally included on the list pending the finalization of integrity investigations include current Sports and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and former State Security Minister David Mahlobo, the three who have come under the most scrutiny.

Current Energy Mnister Gwede Mantashe, who is also the chairperson of the ANC, was cleared to stand after the judge-led national inquiry into corruption recommended he be investigated for allegedly receiving security upgrades at his home from a company at the center of multiple scandals.

Mbalula said there were “no adverse findings” against Mantashe from the ANC’s integrity committee.

Although the national inquiry into corruption, which lasted from 2018-2022, implicated numerous senior ANC and government figures and recommended they be investigated, hardly any have faced criminal charges. Mantashe, Kodwa, Gigaba and Mahlobo have not been charged with any corruption.

Mbalula said every one of the approved candidates for the election, from Ramaphosa down, were the subjects of “rigorous” eligibility investigations, were interviewed by an ANC integrity commission and agreed to lifestyle audits as the ANC attempts to restore its credibility following the corruption-tainted era of Zuma.

Zuma led South Africa from 2009-2018 and is alleged to have overseen a period of widespread government graft that is estimated to have cost the country over $20 billion.

He is currently on trial for corruption, although that case relates to him allegedly receiving bribes before he was president. The trial started in 2021 but Zuma has launched a series of legal actions that have delayed the case and no testimony has yet been heard.

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AP Africa news: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

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