Zuma loses ANC support for looming corruption trial

The African National Congress (ANC) will not support former president Jacob Zuma in his upcoming corruption trial, but the party's members can - as long as they don't wear the party's regalia.

This is a very different approach from Zuma's rape trial, as well as initial attempts to lay corruption charges against him, in which he received overwhelming support from ANC structures, with many calling the charges politically motivated. 

ANC secretary General Ace Magashule said the party noted the corruption charges against Zuma.

Zuma is expected to be served with a summons this week to appear in the Durban high court on April 6 on the corruption charges.

READ: Summons for Zuma to be in court in April to be issued this week

Addressing the media on Sunday evening, Magashule confirmed that Zuma attended the national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Cape Town this weekend as an ex officio member for the first time. All former presidents of the party remain ex officio members.

Magashule said several times during the briefing a person must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

"Allegations are allegations," he also said. "We are not protecting or defending anyone."

The meeting did however deal with corruption and state capture.

"The NEC appreciates that, in the context of this campaign, some members and leaders of the movement may find themselves called to account by law-enforcement agencies, the legislatures and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry dealing with the matter of state of capture.

"The ANC wishes to reiterate its principled approach that persons so implicated, should be presumed innocent until and unless proven otherwise," said Magashule.

He noted that members of the ANC -  in their individual capacity - and society have the right to express their sympathy and solidarity with anyone affected, and not through any structures of the movement including the ANC's leagues and the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association.

"Members involved in such actions are discouraged from displaying ANC’s paraphernalia and thus creating the false impression that the ANC as [an] organization identifies with, or approve of, the misdemeanors of which any any member or leader maybe accused."

He said the NEC welcomed the "concerted efforts" of the executive, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the legislatures, "to put the sad chapter of systemic corruption and state capture behind us".

"We wish to emphasize that cadres of the movement, wherever they may be deployed, should see it as their responsibility to cooperate with these efforts; and not to seek to obstruct legitimate actions to eliminate these scourges."

The NEC has already directed the ANC's national working committee to finalise terms of reference as well as setting up of the Integrity commission and to report to the next NEC meeting for finality.

The meeting also discussed, among other things, the upcoming national elections and its provincial executive committees.

General elections:

Magashule denied the party discussed calling for early elections, but another source had suggested to News24 that Ramaphosa will call for elections to be held in May 2019.

"The ANC is in the process of preparing its structures to participate fully in all aspects that lead to the success of the next general elections," he said.

"The NEC also adopted the list of guidelines for selection of potential public representatives for the coming elections, and the branches will start nominations in due course."

He said in order to avoid the internal competition accompanying the compilation of the lists, they plan to have their lists ready by September or October this year.

Provincial conferences:

"The NEC has resolved that a Special NEC shall be convened, following engagement with all provinces, to assess the feasibility of convening Regional and Provincial Conferences ahead of the forthcoming general elections."

Magashule said the NEC noted the report of the task team led by Sbu Ndebele into matters relating to the 2017 Eastern Cape provincial conference, where violence broke out with members throwing chairs at each other. 

"A process of engagement with the province to find a political solution will be initiated and led by the SGO."

Magashule said the party has its own internal mechanisms to deal with disputes, and they don't want these matters to end up in court.

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