The ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences, the national executive committee (NEC), has adopted guidelines on implementing the resolutions of the governing party’s 2017 national conference related to members and leaders facing criminal charges or serious allegations of wrongdoing.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this in his closing remarks on Sunday night to the NEC, which met over the weekend during a virtual meeting.
But before the guidelines on the “step aside” rule could be implemented, the NEC has decided that the document needs to be “refined” in consultation with provinces and the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) which has been mandated to finalise the guidelines within the next 30 days.
“This is fundamental to the renewal of our movement and to strengthening the integrity and credibility of the ANC,” Ramaphosa said. “The team will refine the document on the basis of the NEC’s inputs. We will also consult with provinces, and the NWC has been mandated to finalise the guidelines within the next month, so as to ensure immediate implementation.”
The new guidelines were developed by ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile along with party veterans like Kgalema Motlanthe and Matthews Phosa.
The guidelines will have serious implications on the fate of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and other ANC members accused of wrongdoing that are under pressure to step aside.
Magashule is out R200,000 bail and faces 21 charges of fraud and corruption related to an asbestos removal tender during his tenure as the premier of the Free State. He is set to appear again in court on Friday in Bloemfontein.
According to the guidelines, ANC members who face criminal charges before a court of law must immediately step aside from their positions and present themselves to the party’s integrity commission. Should a member fail to voluntarily step aside, disciplinary processes should then commence and the member must be summarily suspended from the party.
ANC members can also be referred to the integrity commission, which can recommend that the member be asked to step aside.
In December last year, the ANC’s integrity commission recommended that Magashule should step down immediately pending the outcome of his corruption case, and if he refuses to step aside, he should be suspended.
The reports and recommendations of the integrity commission will also have to be processed by the NEC.
Meanwhile, in what could be seen as a veiled message to Magashule, Ramaphosa appealed to ANC members facing criminal charges and those accused of serious transgressions to be guided by their “revolutionary conscience” and step aside.
“It should be emphasised that the starting point in realising the conference’s resolutions on this matter is reliance on the revolutionary conscience of members and leaders — for affected individuals themselves to act voluntarily without compulsion from the movement’s structures.
“We, therefore, call on affected members to act in the interest of protecting the reputation of the movement by acting accordingly,” Ramaphosa said.
— African National Congress (@MYANC) February 14, 2021