South Africa

RENEW & REBUILD

ANC tackles integrity crisis after reputational damage caused by step-aside rule, bans charged members from contesting positions

From left: Former Mpumalanga agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs MEC Mandla Msibi. (Photo: Supplied) | Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. (Photo: Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Jabulani Langa) | Provincial Secretary of ANC Gauteng, Jacob Khawe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The NEC agreed that ‘any member who had stepped aside voluntarily following an indictment to appear in a court of law on any charge’ should not be allowed to run for a position on a branch, regional, provincial or national executive committee.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has tightened the loopholes in its rule on leaders who face criminal charges after some of those leaders abused the rule’s shortcomings by being elected to positions and causing “serious reputational damage” to the party, as well as confusion. 

More changes could be in the offing as the party has asked officials “to investigate and make proposals regarding any further amendments required for the effective implementation of the resolution”. 

One official has hinted that some of these measures might entail political education and more “reflection” on the matter by branch delegates.

After a special meeting on Sunday and Monday, the NEC agreed that “any member who had stepped aside voluntarily following an indictment to appear in a court of law on any charge” should not be allowed to run for a position on a branch, regional, provincial or national executive committee. 

It also stipulated that this applied to those who had been suspended in terms of rule 25.70 of the party’s constitution after such an indictment.

Party Secretary-General Ace Magashule was suspended just over a year ago after he refused to step down voluntarily after a corruption charge. There were indications recently from Magashule’s side that he was hoping for a political return, as he issued a statement in his own name, but this would prevent him from coming back as long as the corruption charges are in place. 

‘Any charge’ applies

The wording of the statement seems to hint that the step-aside rule would not only apply to “corruption or other serious crimes”, as stipulated by the NEC after its meeting on this at the end of March last year, as well as by its 2017 conference in Nasrec, but to “any charge”.

This would deal with someone like the former president of the ANC Women’s League, Bathabile Dlamini, who has refused to step aside voluntarily after she was convicted of perjury this month, leaving the NEC divided over whether perjury is a crime serious enough to warrant forcing her to step down. 

Dlamini is set to appear before the party’s Integrity Commission, the NEC said in its statement, in which it also announced that the women’s league had been disbanded and replaced by a national task team to take the league to an elective conference.

The party’s National Working Committee will decide on the composition and terms of reference of the task team. It is unlikely that the structures that recently elected leaders who are facing charges will have to rerun their conferences.

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, who faces fraud, corruption and money laundering charges, was recently elected ANC chairperson of the eThekwini region, while former MEC Mandla Msibi was elected ANC Mpumalanga treasurer despite facing murder charges. They both stepped aside soon after being elected. 

Senior ANC leaders have said that it would be difficult — legally and politically — to apply the NEC’s latest decision retrospectively.

ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile is set to clarify questions over the latest decision at a media briefing at Luthuli House on Thursday afternoon. 

The latest decision appears to have been aimed at neutralising possible attempts by leaders to scupper the party’s national elective conference in December by staging a revolt against the step-aside rule, which some of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s detractors have claimed is a way of keeping them out of leadership positions. 

But in its statement, the NEC said the implementation of this rule “constitutes an important and groundbreaking element in the renewal and rebuilding of the organisation”.

Polls a ‘worry’ for party

Perceptions that the party’s leadership is corrupt have influenced voting behaviour, and one insider said the party has been worried by its own polls, which indicate that its electoral support could drop below 50% in former strongholds in 2024. 

The NEC said in its statement it held the position that, “as a liberation movement and a governing party, our leaders must be above reproach, and that any misconduct or dishonesty is dealt with in a serious and consistent manner”. 

It also said that its leadership guidelines document entitled Through the Eye of a Needle stipulates that “a leader should lead by example. S/he should be above reproach in his or her political and social conduct — as defined by our revolutionary morality.” 

Leaders are also supposed to be role models to ANC members as well as those who are not members, and their lives should be “free of corrupt practices”. 

Meanwhile, in Gauteng, provincial secretary Jacob Khawe has become the latest leader to step aside after allegations that he assaulted his wife. EWN reported that a special Provincial Executive Committee meeting was held after these allegations were published in the Sunday Times and that Khawe volunteered to step aside. 

The women’s league in the province said it would accompany Khawe’s wife to the police station to lay a complaint.

The NEC  also provided clarity at its meeting this week on a matter that has been disputed at recent elective conferences, by ruling that unelected, interim party branch, regional or provincial structures are allowed to take part in elective conferences.

“In terms of the ANC constitution, such interim structures fulfil the functions of the BEC, REC or PEC,” it said, referring to the branch, regional and provincial executive committees. “Accordingly, the NEC affirmed the right of members of such interim structures to attend ex-officio as full participants in and as delegates to regional or provincial conferences.”

Since many of these interim structures are friendly towards the current NEC, this move could load the voting delegates in conferences in the favour of the national incumbent. DM

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All Comments 10

  • I find it truly amazing that the NEC had to debate and clarify this issue given the party’s Leadership Guidelines. I find it equally amazing that people charged with serious crimes could be re-elected – says something about the culture within certain parts of the ANC I am afraid.

  • The sooner South Africa is rid of the current ANC governing party,the better lives for all dream, will be realized. They are just incompetent in moral and ethical values in governance, besides other aspects of running a country that makes it safe, investable, is prospering economically and citizen are happy.

  • It’s amazing that the ANC says its leaders should be role models and free of corrupt practices in their lives, but such a large proportion clearly don’t understand ethics. The fact that Bathabile Dlamini considers perjury “not a serious offense” shows how low the bar is set. Ethical standards should be higher than merely complying with the laws, but also extend to always doing what is morally right.

  • I would like to know if those suspended and/or stepped aside are still receiving remunerations of any kind, do they continue to draw a salary? People like Ace, etc, appreciate clarification on this, thanks.

    • I agree! Do they still receive their millions in salaries and benefits at the tax payers expense or are they paid by the ANC ( who recently could not even pay their staff)?

    • Of course they still receive their salaries, similar to those suspended.
      The whole thing is farcical unless the rule is applied and made retrospective. How can one apply for another post after having to step aside from another. They should also be put on half salary until the court case, that should make them think twice about employing Stalingrad tactics.

  • “… stepped aside voluntarily…” ??? Am I the only person noticing this “get-out” word? That means anyone who refuses will be allowed to be reelected. OR Is there another rule that says refusal to voluntarily step aside will automatically result in EXPULSION from the ANC. I’m confused!

  • Smoke and mirrors alert. What an insult to South Africa’s collective intelligence. This has not been done to demonstrate respect for the rule of law. It is an entirely political ploy. They virtually admit as much.

    Do not expect more cadres to “step aside voluntarily” any time soon. This has got more (loop) holes in it than the Owl and Pussycats sieve. What happened to summary dismissal on grounds of criminality. It is criminality that the people are objecting to as reflected by the polls

  • The same old tired movie in which the pretenders repeat the same old tired script and none of the scoundrels pay any attention. The entire cast is hanging on for the intermission so that snouts can sniff out the “goodies”.

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