Several former leaders of the ANC have come out to slam the party over its position on corruption-accused Member of Parliament (MP) Bongani Bongo.
ANC stalwarts have in the past been vocal critics of former president Jacob Zuma and his national executive committee and are now expressing “deep concern” over national spokesperson Pule Mabe’s statements on Bongo’s arrest.
Bongo was arrested by the Hawks on Thursday last week on charges of corruption.
The charges are linked to claims that he tried to bribe advocate Nthuthuzelo Vanara, who was the evidence leader of a parliamentary inquiry into state capture at power utility Eskom.
He has since been granted bail and is expected to be back in court on January 31, next year.
While the ANC in Parliament welcomed the probe, Mabe during an interview on SABC’s Morning Live, proclaimed that Bongo was innocent until proven guilty and said there was no need for the MP, who is a former minister and now chairs the home affairs portfolio committee, to step aside.
“Invoking his presumed innocence is a disappointing signal of tolerance for unethical conduct,” said the stalwarts in a statement.
The statement released on Friday was signed by Mavuso Msimang, Cheryl Carolus, Murphy Morobe, Thami Ntenteni, Siphiwe Nyanda, Aziz Pahad, Fazel Randera, Wally Serote and Sheila Sisulu.
The veterans also reflected on the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec conference resolutions, which demanded that every cadre accused of corruption should account to the party’s integrity commission or face disciplinary process.
The ANC also resolved that those impacted by such would voluntarily step down.
“We do not pronounce on the guilt or innocence of former minister Bongo, but the NPA has charged him and he will appear in the high court in January. Ignoring our own resolutions, taken by the highest structure of the ANC, is not an option,” the statement said.
The ANC veterans called on the party to uphold its own constitution and conference resolutions.
Mabe said he had the utmost respect for the ANC’s veterans, who should constantly be looked to for wise counsel.
“If there are issues they feel would not have been communicated well, I am open to engage with them and learn from them,” said Mabe.
“I cannot ignore the wise counsel of our veterans,” he added.
Mabe said numerous platforms existed within the organisation to allow for its stalwarts to voice their views and for other leaders to explain some of the decisions they have made.