EFF leader Julius Malema has accused the ANC of taking an “unconstitutional” decision to ask ANC leaders to “step aside” from their positions when they are charged with alleged corruption.
Malema made the claim during a media briefing after his court appearance for alleged assault charges on Monday. The case is linked to his scuffle with the police during the funeral of the late ANC stalwart Winnie Mandela in 2018.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decided last month to implement the party’s 54th National Conference resolution taken in 2017 following widespread reports of COVID-19 corruption.
“Cadres of the ANC who are formally charged for corruption or other serious crimes must immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, legislatures or other government structures pending the finalisation of their cases,” ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
However, Malema said such a decision is “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and the EFF would not emulate it. “We are told that the South African constitution is the best in the world, but for political [expediency], people have now decided to abandon the constitution and follow the popular narrative,” he said.
The EFF leader claimed Public Enterprises Minister and ANC NEC member Pravin Gordhan is behind the decision, adding that the aim is to discredit certain leaders so that their competitors can win in the ANC’s 2022 national conference.
“It’s a rule of Pravin. Remember, Pravin controls the [National] Prosecuting Authority and anyone opposed to Pravin is going to be charged, not with the hope of securing any conviction, but just to put a dark cloud on top of your head and then you’re off and then they emerge uncontested,” Malema claimed.
He added that the presumption of innocence until proven guilty must be upheld and that corruption-accused leaders should be allowed to search their conscience and resign on their own.
ANC leaders in the spotlight
ANC MP Bongani Bongo and KwaZulu-Natal MPL Zandile Gumede are among prominent ANC leaders facing alleged corruption charges. Both have maintained their innocence and claimed the charges are politically motivated.
Bongo claimed in an interview with eNCA last year that Gordhan had orchestrated his arrest. “I never accused Gordhan, but he accused me of working with the EFF and the Public Protector and said I will see what will happen to me,” he claimed. Gordhan denied the claims, terming them “foolish.”
Speaking to supporters after her court appearance in Durban last week, Gumede also claimed her case is an “attack” against the ANC.
“We are at war, but this war is not targeting Zandile Gumede; it is the ANC that is under attack. By taking a stand against cases like this, comrades in eThekwini and other regions will save the ANC,” she said.