We won’t back down, says Ramaphosa as he pledges to push for corruption-accused to ‘step aside’

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday reiterated that the ANC would not back down on its decision that leaders accused of corruption should step aside from their position
Image: File/ GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday reiterated that the ANC would not back down on its decision that leaders accused of corruption should step aside from their position as per a national conference resolution.

This means the ANC national executive committee would soon revisit the matter of its secretary- general Ace Magashule, who has been charged with corruption. The party’s integrity commission has recommended that Magashule step aside from his position or be suspended.

Delivering the ANC NEC January 8 statement — virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic — Ramaphosa made another commitment to root out corruption within the ranks of the ruling party.

“We reiterate, as resolved by the national conference, that every member accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices should account to the integrity commission immediately or face disciplinary processes. Members who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures, will be summarily suspended.”

Despite the integrity commission recommending a month ago that Magashule step aside from his position until his corruption case is finalised, he remains in office.

The integrity commission did not mince its words in its recommendation to the party’s highest decision-making structure, the national executive committee, that Magashule step aside.

But Magashule has refused to do so while the NEC also seems to be paralysed on the issue.

Ramaphosa said the NEC was finalising the guidelines on when and how a member gets to step aside from their position. ​

“We are going to strengthen the ANC’s integrity commission, to enable it to act decisively, without fear or favour, to deal with corruption and wrongdoing in our ranks,” Ramaphosa said.

The ANC would have to show that it was taking real steps to resolve problems South Africans were facing such as poverty, unemployment, dealing with corruption, cronyism and patronage.

The party has been known to always remind people of SA about the struggles of the past which led to democracy and how its comrades had made sacrifices, were sent into exile and others died in pursuit of the democracy many enjoy today.

“In this the 27th year of democracy, the ANC cannot campaign on a platform that simply recounts the glories of the past,” Ramaphosa said.

“Our people now want to hear what the ANC is going to do concretely to improve their lives. They want to see us in action serving their interests. We owe it to them, and we owe it to the glorious history of the ANC to meet the commitments we make.”

Ramaphosa said there was great optimism that the party’s road to “recovery and reconstruction” could be successful but that it had to be “grounded in our democratic institutions, which are strong, durable and broadly supported by the people”.

“Despite our many challenges, there is great cause for optimism. And in this we know we can count on the people of SA who believe in the ANC, who support the ANC and who have entrusted the ANC with the responsibility to change our society for the better,” Ramaphosa said.

“It is the resilience and courage of the people of our country that has taken us through the most difficult of years.”

He however said that there has been resistance from within the ANC to the decision to renew the organisation which puts the party at risk of losing the trust of South Africans.

Though the party has made progress on the resolutions taken at its 54th national conference in 2017, Ramaphosa said corruption, controversies involving leaders and resistance to the resolutions continue to weaken the organisation.

He reminded South Africans on the founding values of the ANC which he said the party needed to remain true to.

These values, he said, were integrity, honesty, tolerance, respect and, above all, service.

“While important progress has been made in the renewal and rebuilding of the ANC since the 54th national conference, there is still much to be done. The organisation has been weakened by corruption, resistance to renewal and controversies involving ANC leaders,” Ramaphosa said.

These problems have created a social distance between the ANC leaders and South Africans at large.

“Unless they are resolved, they will have the effect of rendering our society rudderless at a time when firm and principled leadership is required,” he said.

Though strengthening unity was a priority, it cannot be used to shield those who are accused of wrongdoing.

This was part of the organisation’s strategy towards renewal.

What was needed to achieve this unity however, was for the party’s integrity commission to be strengthened, Ramaphosa said.

by Kgothatso Madisa