ROAD TO ELECTIVE CONFERENCE
ANC moves to crack down on unruly members by getting step-aside rule cemented into constitution
Proposed amendments to the party’s constitution are geared towards finding stringent ways to discipline unruly members through constitutionalising the temporary suspension and voluntary step-side processes as well as the Integrity Committee. The amendments can be made if at least a two-thirds majority of voting delegates at the national conference in December are in agreement.
These prospective changes to the ANC’s constitution, which have already been endorsed by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), seek to address issues pertaining to organisational renewal of the fractured and vulnerable governing party.
The internal party document, drawn up by the National Executive Committee (NEC) subcommittee on constitutional and legal affairs led by Ronald Lamola, not only seeks to constitutionalise the step-aside rule, but includes the expulsion of members who fail to comply with the guidelines or its terms and conditions.
The document, which has been seen by Daily Maverick, has been released to regional and provincial secretaries so that amendments can be discussed at the national conference in December.
The step-aside guidelines, like the Integrity Committee, are ANC national conference resolutions which were never formally added to the party’s constitution.
“Any failure to comply with this rule in any manner whatsoever or any failure to comply with any terms and conditions set in terms of this rule, constitutes an act of misconduct in terms of Rule 24.18.1 and upon conviction leads to automatic expulsion,” the document reads.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “War on accountability: KZN ANC’s call to scrap ‘step aside’ rule is also a push for return to the past”
The amendment sets out that anyone who is convicted in a court of law of any offence pending the finalisation of any appeal or review or any other court proceeding or any disciplinary proceedings in the organisation, should step side. The rule will apply to those who are indicted to appear in court on any charge. The party’s secretary-general will then be given a directive by the relevant bodies to send an official letter requesting that the member step aside within a specified time or immediately face temporary suspension.
The subcommittee suggests the step-aside or temporary suspension remain in force pending the finalisation of all processes or proceedings, including any disciplinary hearings, appeals or reviews, whether inside or outside the organisation, relating to such matters. The committee will be given the right to impose any terms and conditions to regulate the member’s participation and conduct during the suspension or step-aside period, including standing for any positions.
“During the period of the voluntary step-aside or temporary suspension the elected office bearer, public representative, member or deployee shall not be entitled to exercise any of his or her rights in terms of the constitution, save for attending the disciplinary proceedings and enforcing his or her right of appeal,” the document states.
“In addition, any public representative, elected office bearer, member or deployee shall during the period of suspension or step-aside be prohibited from standing in or accepting any position or post, whether elective or co-opted, on a Branch Executive Committee, Regional Executive Committee, Provincial Executive Committee or NEC.”
The proposal to bar anyone who has stepped aside from standing for election to any position only came to the fore recently, since some members were able to contest despite facing serious charges.
This comes just weeks after the ANC’s national policy conference in Nasrec, where party president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the majority of delegates had endorsed that the step-aside rule remain in place.
The party’s divisions on the matter had started to show just before the gathering. Provinces recently held general provincial councils, where they took a stance on the resolution – Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal wanted it scrapped, while Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape wanted it to be retained.
The resolution has caused much controversy within the party since it was formally introduced in 2021, with one of its first casualties being secretary-general Ace Magashule. He refused to step aside and had to be suspended from his position.
Others who have borne the brunt of the ruling include former ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza, former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, the former mayor of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Olly Mlamleli, and former parliamentary portfolio committee chairs Bongani Bongo and Zukiswa Ncitha.
Integrity Committee to be strengthened
At the same time, it has been suggested that the Integrity Committee be allowed to run a parallel process with the courts or any other structure that has charged a member, unless sanctioned by the relevant political structure.
“No National Disciplinary Committee, Provincial Disciplinary Committee, Regional Disciplinary Committee or [Branch Disciplinary Committee] shall postpone or delay a specific disciplinary hearing because of the existence of any criminal, civil or administrative proceeding or any other process or proceeding, which may or may not impact in whatsoever manner on that specific disciplinary hearing, unless, after being requested to do so, the NEC, [Provincial Executive Committee, Regional Executive Committee, Branch Executive Committee], whichever is applicable, has specifically by resolution authorised such postponement or delay of that specific disciplinary hearing to a specific date and may provide for or impose any terms and conditions as it deems fit,” according to the document.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Where is the integrity in this charade?”
Another amendment would allow the committee to hold to account any member who is identified or named in a report, commission, tribunal or any other forum established by the government, as a person who may, directly or indirectly, allegedly be, or have been involved in or benefited from an act or conduct containing an element of dishonesty or impropriety, or any other act or conduct which may amount to a serious offence.
This rule will help the party deal with roughly 200 members who were found to have been implicated in Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s State Capture report.
At its last meeting, the NEC decided that all its leaders, current and former, as well as its members mentioned in the State Capture Commission report, should immediately present themselves to the Integrity Committee. This stemmed from the action plan presented by the task team led by ANC head of policy Jeff Radebe.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Ramaphosa has appeared before party’s integrity committee, says Jeff Radebe”
A number of ANC structures were consulted on the proposed amendments, including the veteran’s league which was said to have made “meaningful” contributions.
“The assignment was more consultative and included hosting of a workshop that structures participated [in] to enhance meaningful and informed propositions on the proposed amendment… Notice of intent to propose any amendments to the constitution shall be forwarded to the Office of the Secretary-General at least three months before the national or special conference. The NEC shall give at least one month’s notice for any constitutional amendments,” the document read. DM