ANC leaders who were elected while abiding by the step-aside rule due to criminal charges hanging over them have escaped harsh terms of being suspended.
The ANC national executive committee’s (NEC) special sitting decided to tighten the step-aside rule after the election of Mandla Msibi as the Mpumalanga provincial treasurer and Zandile Gumede as the chairperson of the eThekwini region despite facing serious criminal charges.
Msibi is facing two counts of murder and one of attempted murder while Gumede is facing more than 2 700 counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering. The charges relate to the R320 million Durban Solid Waste tender.
READ: Murder-accused Msibi stays on in provincial legislature
ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said on Friday that the revised policy only prohibited members and leaders in future from participation in party activities until their matters are resolved.
“Last year when we adopted the regulation, we didn’t make it retrospective,” Mashatile said.
But he sent a strong warning that leaders who defy the organisation and continue to participate will be suspended.
“But let me also add that one of the provisions we made in the document was that because this is a living document, conditions always change,” said Mashatile.
READ: ANC’s eThekwini region seeks to rebuild after fractious regional conference
The decision to tighten the step-aside policy was informed by the recent developments where party leaders facing criminal charges were elected to top party positions such as the regional executive committees (REC), provincial executive committee (PEC) and even the NEC, he said.
“So, the decision was taken just to close that gap. So now we’ve made it explicit that if you have volunteered to step-aside, you shouldn’t accept nomination to any position,” said Mashatile.
He said the NEC took the position previously to ensure that members and leaders of the party should be beyond reproach and they should protect the integrity of the organisation at all times.
READ: The big hole in the step-aside resolution
But it’s not all doom and gloom for those who had hoped to be elected while abiding the step-aside policy. They have been given a window period to approach the party to review their cases before they can stand for nomination for any top positions in the ANC.
“The decision to step aside must be reviewed periodically by the NEC, the national working committee, the PEC or PWC at least once per year, or from time to time at the request of a member or an office bearer public and presented,” he said.
Such a review would only take place for individual members.
“If this is a member of the PEC, such a review will happen at the provincial level. If you are a member of the NEC it will happen at the national level. However, the NEC as the body that oversees the work of the ANC between conferences, ultimately makes all these decisions in case there are appeals,” said Mashatile.
He said the NEC also felt that the officials of the ANC top six should continue to look at the document and see if there are other areas that will need improvement.