Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
3 minute read
28 Apr 2022
8:18 pm

Step-aside rule: ‘Fine’ print saves Bathabile Dlamini’s bacon

Brian Sokutu

The step-aside guideline remains “voluntary” for ANC members

ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini is seen after being sentenced at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court, 1 April 2022, after being found guilty of perjury for lying under oath during a 2017 inquiry into the social grants debacle at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Picture: Michel Bega

While the ANC on Thursday announced the tightening of its step-aside guidelines against members facing criminal charges or those found to have brought the party into disrepute, embattled ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini may survive being in the party’s firing line, due to a consideration that the court sentenced her to an option of a fine.

Treasurer-general Paul Mashatile fielded a barrage of questions during a media briefing at party headquarters, Luthuli House, in Johannesburg, after a recent two-day ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in the run-up to the July policy conference.

He said Dlamini had voluntarily opted to appear before the integrity committee following the court verdict this month. But her conviction in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court for perjury and sentencing to a R200,000 fine or a four-year imprisonment might not lead to her facing heavy censure by the ANC.

Mashatile said: “Comrade Bathabile was given an option of a fine in court. All of us know that the constitution of the ANC respects the fact that if you have the option of a fine, we can’t regard that as misconduct, suspend or expel you. It is because you have an option of a fine.

“Comrade Bathabile has, however, felt that this was a matter of magnitude and she voluntarily wanted to appear before the integrity committee.

“This is because there may be other comrades who might feel that the issue of a conviction might bring the party into disrepute and affect the ANC image.

“We felt it is a matter that should purely be looked at by the integrity commission, as suggested by comrade Bathabile – the best way for the matter to be put to rest.”

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The step-aside guideline remained “voluntary” for party members “to do so of their own accord” by not accepting nomination for leadership positions.

“The decision that those who are on step-aside should not accept party nominations is not done retrospectively. It looks into the future and not past misconduct,” said Mashatile.

“If there was no policy in place at the time a particular member behaved in a certain way, it may be unfair to go back.

“The timing of the tightening of step-aside is okay, because we are moving towards the policy conference where there are going to be debates on policy positions.

“Branches of the ANC may raise the step-aside matter differently to the ANC at the policy conference.

“So, we are not closing the gate, because NEC decisions can be reviewed,” said Mashatile.

ALSO READ: ANC’s failure to enforce step-aside rule brings integrity commission into question – expert

The NEC also resolved to disband the ANC Women’s League leadership, due to it’s five-year term having expired.

“If they continue to operate as an ANC Women’s League NEC, someone may take them to court for operating illegally – with their decisions declared null and void.

“We need a new leadership in the form of the national task team to take the ANC Women’s League forward,” he said.