Cyril Ramaphosa
**FILE** South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (Courtesy of Phill Magakoe)

The African National Congress, South Africa’s governing party, is at odds about the status of its integrity commission rulings, with some members arguing that the structure is used to settle factional scores.

The matter was among the dominant subjects at last weekend’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, following the ruling that ANC leaders implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal must step aside from their positions, the Johannesburg-based City Press reported Nov. 4.

There are fears — particularly among those aligned to former South African President Jacob Zuma — that the commission could be used as a purging instrument by those who won last year’s Nasrec elective conference.

But even some allies of President Cyril Ramaphosa are uncomfortable about the commission being given too much power.

The integrity commission was established after the 2012 Mangaung conference to protect the ANC’s image “by ensuring … that urgent action is taken to deal with public officials, leaders and members of the ANC who face damaging allegations of improper conduct.”

But it has been hamstrung by the fact that its decisions must be ratified by the NEC.

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said that the commission’s work and preparations for next year’s general election top the NEC meeting’s agenda.

He lashed out at ANC members who individually criticized the commission: “We are the national executive committee. I don’t have a [personal] view. My view will be the view of the collective.”

While the ANC is under pressure to show Limpopo voters that it takes the looting at VBS seriously, it faces a big problem in that deputy provincial chairperson Florence Radzilani and provincial treasurer Danny Msiza are implicated in advocate Terry Motau’s Great Bank Heist report.

While Msiza allegedly pressurized municipalities to place deposits in VBS illegally, Radzilani received cash from the bank.

Last week, Cosatu in Limpopo staged protests at some municipalities that lost millions of rands in VBS. A provincial shutdown is planned for Wednesday to try to force the ANC to take action.

The ANC’s problems are exacerbated by the fact that Luthuli House also received millions in donations from VBS.

Party leaders initially denied this, but later admitted it and pledged to pay back some of the money.

Critics of the integrity commission, which is led by former Robben Islander George Mashamba, accuse it of encroaching on the turf of formal disciplinary structures by recommending that leaders step aside.

Msiza wrote to Magashule and the ANC top six last week, asking that the commission’s report not be discussed at the weekend NEC meeting because he had yet to tell his side of the story.

“I am baffled and deeply hurt by the subversion of due process by the integrity commission. The net effect of this gross injustice is that I have been persecuted and found guilty in the court of public opinion. … I have been judged in absence and presumed guilty and now the onus is on me to prove my innocence,” Msiza wrote.

ANC insiders say the national working committee should have discussed the matter on Monday, but Magashule left it off the agenda.

Msiza’s supporters lobbied NEC members to have the integrity commission report reversed, expecting Magashule to take their side because he was among those who disagreed that the commission’s decisions should be binding.

Msiza’s sympathizers are saying the commission should have called him, while his opponents argue he should have voluntarily presented himself to it.

ANC NEC member Mathole Motshekga said the commission’s recommendations were “vague.”

Bahamas Labor Director Fears Possible Health Care Shutdown

Director of Labour John Pinder recently expressed concern about a potential health care shutdown as the looming threat of strikes by senior physicians and nurses continues.

“I don’t think no government or no country could afford to have its health care providers bringing industrial actions against the employer or the government, so that certainly would be a great concern to anybody,” said Pinder, the former president of the Bahamas Public Service Union, the Nassau Guardian reported. “I would hope that we would be able to get these matters resolved favorably and there will be no reason for industrial actions.

“It’s very important for the nurses and doctors to be in the health care system,” he said. “They’re very, very important and the sad thing about it [is] they can hold the country hostage, especially the Bahamas, simply because there is more demand for nurses than supply.”

Neither the nurses nor the senior physicians have ruled out the possibility of industrial action amid negotiations with the Public Hospitals Authority, which announced late last month that nurses scheduled to work between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be paid $1.75 per hour in addition to their base pay.

The senior physicians voted last month to take industrial action as a result of poor working conditions, a lack of health insurance, and a lack of raises for 10 years.

The Bahamas Nurses Union has protested a new shift system twice in recent days because it finds the proposed $1.75 premium insulting. It also said that the system will not provide sufficient rest periods.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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