Christopher Taute, the Mayor of the municipality of Hassequa in the south of the country admitted on Tuesday 1st February of using his title of Mayor in order to raise funds for the ANC party, to which he belongs. The mayor also utilized state property for party political purposes by using the Council’s letterheads for the intention of raising funds.
Not only does this represent a clear violation of his municipality title and of council property, but the manner in which it was carried out does hints at deeper corruption. Taute sent out letters requesting funds for the party to contractors that had been awarded tenders by the local authority. The letter makes clear to the contractor that a tender contract was awarded by an ‘ANC-run’ municipality and that the contractor should donate to the ANC to ensure the continuation of a good relationship with an ‘ANC-run council.’ In essence Taute was asking for an additional payment, outside of the terms of the contract, to be made to the party in gratitude for being awarded the contract.
It is welcoming that the party’s Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe has subsequently made a statement outlining this action as immoral and that clear distinction must be maintained between party and state. Yet despite this it is still a concern that Taute, a high ranking member of the ANC, is nonplussed regarding his actions and refuses to see them as wrong. His casual attitude and resistance to acknowledge any wrongdoing in this instance hints at the prevalence of this kind of behaviour throughout the ANC party. It would go some way to explain the complete dominance of the ANC and grand support it has of vast business empires.
For a true democracy to flourish there needs to be no grey area between the separation of party and state. Clear separation ensures that the state’s power and apparatus is not used to further the goals of whichever political party is in power at any time. By separating finances it means that the state’s coffers cannot be used to further fund the ruling party and therefore severely disadvantage the opposition, who would not have access to this type of funding.
The tone of Taute’s letter implies that the contractors are in fact obligated to provide these funds, as part of some kind of reciprocal obligation to the ANC for giving them the contract. It also suggests the failure to supply these funds may very well hinder the relationship between the contractors and the council possibly resulting in the contractors not being awarded any more contracts from the council. In short it is the start of a system of political clientelism whereby the incumbent officer, in this case Mr Taute, awards businesses with contracts and other political favours from his position of political authority and in return the business funds the coffers of the political party, the ANC.