Remains to be seen if ANC will apply the step-aside rule to everyone
The step-aside policy aims to rid the party of corrupt elements.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his closing remarks on the ANC 55th Conference at Nasrec, 20 December 2022. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
The adoption of the highly contentious step-aside rule by the ANC at its 55th national elective conference yesterday is welcome, but it remains to be seen if it will be justly implemented.
Declaring that it was disassociating itself with members and leaders who are charged with corruption or other serious crimes, the move should sound the death knell for those – including suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule – who have criminal cases hanging over their heads.
In 2021, Magashule tried unsuccessfully to challenge his suspension under the step-aside rule in court. He argued that the rule was against the constitution, which states that all persons charged with an offence shall be presume innocent until proven guilty.
The high court ruled that it was satisfied the policy was consistent with the constitution, as it was precautionary in nature.
The disgraced Magashule is facing up to 74 counts of corruption, money laundering and fraud relating to the asbestos project in the Free State when he was premier.
He had wrongly hoped ANC branches would save his skin. It is no doubt good news that the ANC has rubber-stamped the decision taken back in 2017, despite some in the party – probably those who have been implicated in malfeasance – being dead against it.
The step-aside policy aims to rid the party of corrupt elements. The conference declared that a member affected should have their circumstances reviewed every six months, with the party’s disciplinary committee responsible for sticking to the deadlines so as not to “unduly prejudice affected comrades”.
We are waiting with bated breath to see if the ANC will be true to its word and apply the rule to everyone, no matter their position or the faction they belong to – including President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose own Phala Phala saga hangs like an albatross around his neck.