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ANC resolves to keep step-aside rule, with case reviews every six months

ANC resolves to keep step-aside rule, with case reviews every six months
Chairperson of the ANC subcommittee on organisational renewal, Fasiha Hassan. (Photo: Twitter)

Attempts by some provinces to scrap the ANC’s controversial step-aside rule have been unsuccessful, which means any members facing serious charges will still have to step down from their positions. The ANC also wants to make adjustments that will see the implementation of a new cadre deployment strategy based on merit.

The ANC’s commission on organisational renewal has resolved that the party will continue to implement its step-aside rule impartially and consistently. The party believes the guidelines should not be used to fight factional battles and settle political scores.

Speaking to the media in the early hours of Friday, renewal commission member Fasiha Hassan said instances of abuse of the step-aside rule, if proven, would result in sanctioning in terms of the law and the ANC code of conduct.

Hassan, the rapporteur for the renewal commission, presented a report to the media at the Imvelo Safari Resort near Bloemfontein as part of the second leg of the ANC’s national conference.

The party has also decided to review every six months the cases of those who have stepped aside, a move Hassan says is necessary to ensure that members are not unduly prejudiced.

Hassan added that the intention behind the guidelines was to regain trust and not to replace the criminal justice system.

“We must also remember the intentions behind this… the reason why there is a review process is so that we can enhance procedural fairness. It is also an internal issue, so I think we should separate it from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

“The NPA is an independent autonomous body… the ANC has no influence in the authority and its process. Having a step-aside review does not affect the NPA – they must continue with their processes and investigations. 

“We are well within our rights to say every six months we check in… perhaps there is new evidence that has come to the fore,” said Hassan.

Party divisions

Divisions over the step-aside rule emerged shortly before the party’s policy conference in August last year. At the time, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal wanted it scrapped, while Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape wanted the rule to be retained.

However, the ANC in Limpopo made a U-turn at its provincial general council late last year on the instructions of its branch members. Provincial spokesperson Jimmy Machaka told Daily Maverick that they changed their stance on condition that implementation of the guidelines was done without bias.

“The initial position was that we were in support of step-aside being scrapped because it was not consistent in the way it was implemented for different leaders and members. The ANC was grappling with step-aside for a while… we could not focus on bread and butter issues instead,” he said.

The rule has been the subject of much debate within the party since it was formally introduced in 2021, with one of its first casualties being former secretary-general Ace Magashule. Facing corruption charges, he refused to step aside and was consequently suspended from his position.

anc step-aside

Former secretary-general of the ANC Ace Magashule (right) and former mayor of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality Olly Mlamleli. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Others who have borne the brunt of the rule 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.

anc step-aside msiza

Former ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza. (Photo: Twitter)

anc step-aside gumede

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

anc step-aside bongo

Former parliamentary portfolio committee chair Bongani Bongo. (Photo: Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Lindile Mbontsi)

Cadre deployment

The ANC has come under fire from opposition parties for its adherence to the cadre deployment system, which was deemed by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as a key driver of State Capture. This led to the Cabinet adopting a national framework for the implementation of the professionalisation of the public sector.

The ANC now wants to make adjustments which will see the implementation of a new deployment strategy based on merit. This means that members with adequate skills and capabilities will be deployed in all spheres of government.

The party has asked the Veterans’ League to assist with leadership development by guiding young members of the ANC.

According to its 55th national conference draft documents on organisational renewal,  the league will ensure that all leaders are elected within the framework of a 2001 policy document, reviewed in 2020, titled, Through the Eye of a Needle.

The document reads: “Strengthen ethics of ANC members, including comrades that are deployed into positions, especially in the public sector. Reaffirm the core values of the ANC as courage, service, self-sacrifice, human solidarity, integrity, temperance, humility, honesty, hard work, self-discipline and mutual respect.

“Ensure generational mix when electing leadership of the ANC. Young people must be organically developed in the ANC, so that when they are elected, they are imbued in the organisational culture and its theoretical disposition.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ANC blasts ‘right wing’, promising advancement of transformation without any apology

Hassan explained that being young was not the only and most important factor when making appointments.

“You must be progressive… you must have merit. But do we then compare a young person who only has five or 10 years’ experience with someone with 40 years’ experience? No, that is not what generation mix is.

“It acknowledges that we all have something different to bring to the table. It is about what you [as a young person] were doing in the community. Were you a student activist? Those are things we should be looking for,” she said.

The second leg of the ANC’s national conference was held in a hybrid setting on Thursday and into the early hours of Friday. It comes before the party’s 111th anniversary celebrations to be held on Sunday in Bloemfontein. DM


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