Former intelligence minister Bongani Bongo said he was not refusing to step aside from his parliamentary work as instructed by his party but instead wanted to know on what basis he should do so.
Bongo, who faces corruption charges for allegedly trying to derail a parliamentary probe on Eskom affairs, has indicated that he wants clarity from the ANC’s Integrity Commission on why he should step aside when he has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
He told Independent Media on Sunday that the country’s constitution was supreme and that if the ANC’s constitution was not in harmony with it or clashed with it in any way, then the laws set down in the ruling party’s documents would have to be considered invalid.
He repeatedly stated that he had done nothing wrong to step aside.
Last week the ANC national executive committee decreed that all members formally charged by courts should step aside with immediate effect.
It then said those facing allegations must subject themselves to the party’s Integrity Commission chaired by veteran George Mashamba.
Days after the decision was communicated, no party member has stepped aside.
Among those who are expected to step aside are National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, who is being privately prosecuted by Afriforum.
ANC national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe who is tainted by his association with Bosasa is expected to appear before the commission together with President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is tainted by the CR17 fund.
Also facing pressure to subject themselves to the commission is former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, secretary-general, Ace Magashule, Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku and presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko.
“The constitution of the ANC does not say I must step aside, the constitution says an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. So what I have requested on my side was they must give a written instruction,” Bongo said.
He said upon getting the letter, he would take it to court and see whether it would muster a legal test. According to him, all that was informed by the fact that the decision to step aside was not informed by the feeling of being guilty and used against him and other party members in future.
“They must not act arbitrarily,” he stressed.
Asked why he is so hell-bent on challenging the decision of the party, Bongo cited the 2012 case of Mpho Ramakatsa, a former ANC member who took the party to court for firing him because he dragged it to court instead of relying on internal mechanisms and won.
He maintained that the court affirmed that the ANC constitution is not above that of the country and can be taken to court by its members.
Bongo further punched holes in the decision of the ANC and said laws passed should not be applied retrospectively.
“The law is not applied retrospectively. You can’t pass a law today and say let me go back and look for someone I think did something wrong years back and use the law against him or her. The law starts applying from cases that happened the day it was passed. Doing that would be like going on a hunting spree with a knife and salt. Look at our constitution, it started applying in 1996, the year it was passed,” he said.
Attempts to get a list of all those that the ANC expected to appear before the 12-member integrity commission failed.
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