President Cyril Ramaphosa’s instruction that party members who have pending charges in courts should immediately step aside from government or leadership roles is facing opposition with no member so far abiding by it.
The “new rule” has put Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise in the middle of a crossfire after a group of ANC members calling themselves Reclaim-ANC asked for an audience with the Integrity Commission to present a case on why Modise must be the first to exit her position.
The Mpumalanga-based group said it was working to make sure all senior ANC members with current court battles relinquish their duties. Independent media could not ascertain if the group was in any way linked to deputy president DD Mabuza.
Ramaphosa’s instruction came after a gruelling three-day NEC meeting. Modise is being privately prosecuted by advocate Gerrie Nel, AfriForum’s private prosecution unit head, representing the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA). The NSPCA called on AfriForum after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute.
“Modise cannot be treated differently from other citizens by the NPA simply because she occupies an important political position. AfriForum’s private prosecution unit was particularly established to intervene in cases such as this of Modise,” Kallie Kriel, AfriForum’s head said.
Political analyst Thando Dotyeni said Modise found herself in a quagmire. “She cannot claim that an allegation of the serious abuse of animals is lighter than Andile Lungisa hitting a man over the head with a jug of water. She will have to be exemplary. If the new law is applied, she will have to leave” Dotyeni said.
Among the members put on the spot by the decision were former state security minister Bongani Bongo and Eastern Cape ANC heavyweight Andile Lungisa.
Bongo, who was on Monday said to be stepping aside, is now digging in his heels, saying the ANC will instruct him on what to do. “I am waiting for the ANC to tell me what to do, I am waiting for it in writing ” he said. Bongo is facing a pending corruption trial in Cape Town.
While attempts to speak to Lungisa failed, he is reported to have dug in as well, saying his conviction was not corruption-related but had to do with an assault and he is appealing against it.
The ANC’s meeting resolution on convicted members reads: “Cadres of the ANC who are convicted of corruption or other serious crimes must resign from leadership positions and face disciplinary action in line with the ANC constitution”.
Of those reported to be involved in corruption, the party said: “Cadres of the ANC who are reported to be involved in corrupt and other serious criminal practices must go to the Integrity Commission to explain themselves. Those who do not give an acceptable explanation may be suspended.”
Attempts to contact ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe to clarify whether the resolution also binds Modise failed.
Mabe ignored calls and messages after Modise’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said the governing party was best placed to comment on the matter.
Two provincial youth league structures said that while they supported the decision to force out members, it should be carried out with great caution.
Khalid Sayed, provincial chairperson of the youth league in the Western Cape, said they had no qualms with removing those already convicted. However, he warned that the manner in which members would be forced out, because they are accused of corruption, should be carefully looked at.
“Where one needs to be careful is when there are allegations. I think it is also fine and fair to allow one to keep benefits while stepping aside until they have basically finalised everything. I think it’s a good step and fair. There has to be consistency, thoroughness in these cases,” he said.
Sello Pietersen, the spokesperson of the ANC youth league in Free State said they had faith in the national officials who had been assigned the responsibility of developing guidelines on the execution and implementation of the step-aside resolution. “We are hopeful these guidelines will be consistent with the principle presuming individuals innocent until proven guilty.
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