Getrude Makhafola
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
30 Jul 2022
4:54 pm

ANC policy conference: Delegates yet to tackle step-aside rule – Motlanthe

Getrude Makhafola

The former president says there were more concerns about ANC membership and organisational renewal.

Kgalema Motlanthe greets President Cyril Ramaphosa at the African National Congress (ANC) 6th National Policy Conference on Day 1 at Nasrec Expo on 29 July 2022. Picture: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius

Delegates at the African National Congress (ANC) policy conference were focusing on renewal of the party and economic policies, and are yet to discuss the contentious step-aside rule.

This is according to former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Day two of the conference saw party members break into commissions to tackle party policy documents that were disseminated to branches at least three months ago.

ALSO READ: ANC will remain divided after the policy conference – analysts

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the conference held at Nasrec, Johannesburg, Motlanthe said there were concerns about the party membership and organisational renewal.

“I was in commissions earlier, so far debates and discussions haven’t even touched on the step-aside rule. There’s more focus on how best to improve quality of membership.

“This is because you elect leaders out of the membership and if the party’s membership is about taking anyone and everybody willy-nilly without instilling values of the organisation, you will end up with compromised leaders,” he said on Saturday.

Causing divisions

The party’s biggest province, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is leading the charge in trying to get the step-aside rule scrapped.

According to the newly-elected KZN provincial leadership, led by chairperson Sboniso Duma, the policy is causing divisions within the party as there are perceptions that it is being used to purge those opposed to the ANC’s dominant faction led by Ramaphosa.

Limpopo, which pledged its support for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election at the December national conference, is also in favour of the re-visiting of step-aside.

READ MORE: ANC divisions driven by corruption, competition for positions, Ramaphosa admits

The rule, adopted at the ANC’s 2017 elective conference, resulted in leaders facing criminal charges such as suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule stepping aside, although he initially refused to do so.

As outlined in the rules, should a member fail to step aside after recommendation and a national executive committee (NEC) decision, disciplinary processes may be implemented where the member may be summarily suspended.

‘Weaknesses in ANC processes’

Motlanthe asserted that the governing party’s constitution, if followed through, deals with what constitutes an offence.

“People in the ANC are saying that the step-aside rule is likely to be reversed and so on. The ANC constitution itself basically says if a member is convicted by a court of law, that member ceases to be eligible to be a member and should be expelled,” he said.

“The ANC constitution already makes provisions that would ensure membership is made up of upright people who are not going to behave as if the laws of the land don’t apply to them.

“We do need leadership to be decisive about the constitution’s provisions, it’s the supreme law in terms of the organisation,” Motlanthe added.

NOW READ: More provinces echo KZN’s call for end to ANC’s step aside rule

The integrity commission, said Motlanthe, needed to be strengthened and given more powers.

“There’s weakness in the system in that their recommendations are submitted to the secretary-general’s office and it ends there. They have no authority to ensure that the NEC actually acts on the recommendations.

“That’s something that may have to be strengthened. At the moment, they are a sub-structure of NEC. They need original authority from conference itself so that they can act and ensure that their recommendations and decisions are given effect to.”