ANC members who have stepped aside from their leadership positions will no longer be allowed to vie for leadership positions in the party.
The ANC took the decision in a special National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on Monday this week. The step aside policy affects members who have been formally charged with corruption and other serious crimes.
In a statement issued on Tuesday (26 April), the ANC noted that its step aside guidelines adopted last year did not explicitly regulate whether members who have stepped aside can stand for election in the party’s structures, such as NEC, provincial executive committee (PEC), regional executive committee (REC) and branch executive committee (BEC).
“The NEC further noted that a number of members who have been indicted in a court of law, some on very serious charges, accepted nomination for such positions after stepping aside voluntarily, only to step aside again immediately after being elected,” the party added.
“The NEC noted with concern that this has resulted in confusion and serious reputational damage to the organisation.”
It was referring to Mandla Msibi, who was recently elected provincial treasurer in Mpumalanga despite facing murder charges, and Zandile Gumede, who was also elected eThekwini’s regional chairperson despite facing corruption charges.
Some suspended members also affected
The NEC reiterated that its leaders must be above reproach, citing its “Eye of the Needle” document which stipulates the party’s desired leadership qualities.
“Accordingly, the NEC agreed that any member who had stepped aside voluntarily following an indictment to appear in a court of law on any charge should not be allowed to stand for a position on a BEC, REC, PEC or NEC,” the ANC said.
“Likewise, any member who has been suspended in terms of Rule 25.70 following an indictment to appear in a court of law on any charge should also not be allowed to stand for a position on a BEC, REC, PEC or NEC.”
There was speculation that, following the election of Msibi and Gumede, the ANC’s suspended Secretary-General Ace Magashule could also be nominated for election at the party’s 55th National Conference scheduled for December this year. The NEC’s decision seemingly closes this possibility, unless Magashule is formally cleared of his corruption charges.
The decision is seen as a major victory for President Cyril Ramaphosa and his allies, as well as for the party’s stuttering renewal agenda.
Another victory is the disbandment of the ANC Women’s League. Its President, Bathabile Dlamini, is widely seen as an ally of Magashule and former President Jacob Zuma.
Both Magashule and Zuma are viewed as torchbearers of the ANC’s so-called radical economic transformation (RET) faction, which is opposed to Ramaphosa’s leadership.