Step aside or be suspended, ANC NEC says as it stands firm on corruption-accused members
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was given a 30-day reprieve before he faces a possible suspension should he refuse to step aside from his position.
This as the ANC national executive issued an ultimatum that its leaders who are facing criminal charges, which would include Magashule, 30 days to resign or face being suspended.
Magashule’s faction was also seemingly decimated, as the ANC national executive committee took a decision to muzzle lobby groups associated with this grouping, with the NEC banning the so-called “radical economic transformation (RET) forces” and the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans from organising and mobilising ANC members.
This was decided at the party’s four-day national executive committee (NEC) meeting. Ramaphosa delivered the closing address on Monday night.
Magashule is facing corruption charges related to the much-publicised asbestos case that happened during tenure as Free State premier. He is now out on R200,000 bail.
Ramaphosa said the decision that those facing charges must step aside within the next 30 days was non-negotiable.
“All members who have been charged with corruption or other serious crimes must step aside within 30 days, failing which they should be suspended in terms of Rule 25.70 of the ANC constitution,” Ramaphosa said. “The meeting emphasised that the 30-day period will be to enable the implementation of the decision in line with the guidelines, not to review the decision.”
Provinces have been tasked with compiling lists of everyone who is facing charges and present those lists to the secretary-general’s office, which would now be led by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
“The NEC also agreed that the provincial chairpersons and secretaries would meet the national officials during that time to further refine the guidelines to ensure the resolution can be effectively and practically implemented.
“The secretary-general’s office will work with the provinces to identify all people affected and inform them of the decision,” Ramaphosa said.
Magashule told the NEC meeting that he would use this time to consult past leaders of the ANC before making his decision.
“The NEC welcomed the decision by the ANC secretary-general, comrade Ace Magashule, to use this time to seek the counsel of past leaders of the movement,” said Ramaphosa.
ANC NEC members have told the Sunday Times that they do not believe Magashule will voluntarily step aside and were, therefore, convinced that the party would have to suspend him.
Many members had hoped that Magashule and others would only be given seven days to step aside as earlier proposed, but the top six decided to give them 30 days instead.
“We have no alternative. Seven days has been extended … But he will eventually step aside,” said an NEC member, who did not want to be named.
Another NEC member said Magashule would use this time for “counselling, understanding the content of the case, uniting the organisation, [and a] meeting of the SG and the president”.
He, however, said this would most likely be a waste of time, saying he was sure Magashule wouldn’t voluntarily step aside.
Ramaphosa said on Monday: “The NEC called on all ANC members to rally around this decision and not to engage in any acts of indiscipline, including through mobilisation or public statements that undermine implementation of the conference resolution”.
The NEC further tamed Ramaphosa’s opponents by effectively collapsing the so-called RET grouping that is being run from ANC headquarters by Magashule staffer Carl Niehaus.
Ramaphosa said the meeting decided that “no ANC member should associate themselves with or be involved in” these RET forces. Niehaus and other ANC members sympathetic to — or at the helm of — the RET grouping have also been barred from using party resources to run the faction.
“Furthermore, the NEC will not allow any member of the ANC staff to use the resources and premises of the ANC to hold meetings of the RET or any other faction. In terms of Rule 25.9 of the ANC constitution on ‘institution of disciplinary proceedings’, the NEC directs the presenter of the ANC to investigate these matters and, if deemed necessary, immediately formulate charges for the attention of the national disciplinary committee,” Ramaphosa said.