The African National Congress in February stepped up its public war of words with an anti-corruption unit — dubbed The Scorpions — designed to ferret out abuse of power in the South African state.
The Scorpions, whom are modeled on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, have been focusing on a large travel-related scandal in which Members of Parliament are accused inflating their travel expenses to scam upwards of $2 million.
Rather than getting to the bottom of that scandal, however, the ANC has predictably chosen to attack the investigators.
ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, for example, accused the anti-corruption unit of timing its announcements to harm the ANC, noting that The Scorpions had released a press release about the extent of the travel scandal on the same day that Thabo Mbeki delivered his State of the Nation address,
I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s a planned, desperate kind of act of vengeance to really undermine parliament and create this impression that members of parliaments are by definition cowboys and crooks.
The ANC has even taken to accusing members of the anti-corruption unit of having been spies for the apartheid-era government.
Mbeki himself promised a thorough investigation, not of corruption but of the anti-corruption task force, in February.
Of course the winds were taken out of the whole “we’re being persecuted” claim when five ANC Members of Parliament plead guilty to fraudulent billing of their travel expenses. Presumably, they were framed or were apartheid spies working with The Scorpions all along to discredit the ANC.
Mbeki to probe elite crime unit. The BBC, February 14, 2005.
ANC’s anger over cowboy ‘smears’. The BBC, February 4, 2005.
ANC to act against convicted MPs. iAfrica.Com, March 18, 2005.