The ANC has reportedly bowed to legal opinion that it is not able to force members who face criminal charges to resign from leadership positions in the party.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe said stepping aside would be a voluntary act. Forcing them to step aside would amount to suspension.
News24 previously reported that the legal opinion would be discussed with the national executive committee (NEC) at its next meeting, scheduled for next weekend.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte told the media that the party had received a report from senior legal counsel on a set of guidelines it would take on the contentious matter.
Advocate Gcina Malindi was asked to come up with guidelines on whether those who are implicated in corruption should be asked to step aside.
The case of Ace
The issue was the subject of heightened factional divisions in the ANC, with one side insisting it was not above the legal doctrine that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
The arrest of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule added a spotlight to the subject.
Magashule faces 21 charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to a controversial R255 million Free State asbestos tender.
He indicated during his first appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court that he would only step aside if branches demanded it.
It is believed that the manner in which the ANC deals with Magashule’s case will set the precedent when it comes to the issue of party leaders stepping aside from their positions in the future.
Mantashe told the Sunday Times that stepping aside was a decision that the individual concerned should take and added that if someone was compelled, it became a suspension. He said that although the party could not force members to step aside, it still had the option of disciplinary action.