On the 5th of August Mary Robinson delivered the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Cape Town. It should have been an occasion when the former Irish President and UN Human Rights Commissioner looked back on South Africa’s achievements since the end of apartheid. Yet her speech will probably be remembered for just one sentence: ‘…the ANC’s moral authority has been eroded, tainted by allegations of corruption; a temporary betrayal of its history.’
From an old friend of the ruling party this was damning indeed, but is she right to refer to corruption as a ‘temporary betrayal?’ The ANC’s history is more complex and more difficult than supporters like Mrs Robinson are prepared to acknowledge. We now know that even in exile the party had corrupt relationships and forged links with organised crime.