ANC Western Cape leader could be ousted if the party’s integrity commission’s recommendations are implemented
The ANC’s integrity commission has found that suspended ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman’s actions have brought the ANC into disrepute and tarnished its image, after 21-year-old Louisa Wynand laid charges of sexual harassment against him.
The charges were first laid against Fransman in Rustenburg, where the party was celebrating its 104th birthday in January. But Fransman and his supporters have always insisted that the charges were a political plot masterminded by his enemies.
City Press has obtained a copy of the commission’s findings, in which it recommends that Fransman should immediately relinquish all politically elected positions he holds in the party.
It also recommends that, for at least two years, he should not be eligible to be nominated as a public representative of the ANC. The decision may be reviewed within two years.
“The integrity commission is of the view that the evidence presented by [Wynand] is of a cogent nature and more likely to be true than not,” wrote committee chairperson and ANC veteran Andrew Mlangeni.
During its investigation, the committee heard that Fransman abused his political office to unlawfully attempt to obtain sexual favours from Wynand during the trip to the ANC rally in Rustenburg.
Fransman denied the allegations, saying that it was part of a political plot to get rid of him. He named senior ANC provincial, regional and national leaders as those who were among the conspirators.
The commission’s report goes into detail about how Fransman first met the woman at a function on a wine estate, where she was working as a hostess, and later allegedly offered her work.
Only days after she started working for him, she was told that she would be required to accompany Fransman to the ANC celebrations in North West.
The sexual harassment allegedly happened during that trip.
The commission said Fransman claimed that he had never offered Wynand a job. He also said he hadn’t touched her and didn’t make any sexual advances towards her.
The commission said it would not deal with the merits of the legal case against Fransman, but was required to assess whether his behaviour had brought the ANC into disrepute.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told City Press the officials had earlier told Fransman to return to the legislature to avoid being kicked out for absconding.
Mantashe said that Fransman would remain in the legislature pending “a discussion as to how best to finalise the matter”.
Fransman told City Press that neither the integrity committee nor ANC officials had communicated any decision to him.
He said the “integrity committee was being used to fight factional battles”, which made its investigation “a laughing stock”.
“I have honoured the integrity commission and I respect the elders, but I will never allow their process to be abused,” he said.
He said it was “shocking” that a non-ANC member, referring to Wynand, “was allowed into an ANC internal process to give evidence against an ANC comrade without other witnesses who are ANC members being called” – contradicting the integrity commission’s claim that two of Fransman’s associates, who were with him during the Rustenburg trip, were also interviewed.
Fransman said he was again “shocked” by the fact that a member of the integrity commission would offer the complainant a bursary.
He was referring to a Daily Maverick report last month that a member of the commission had offered Wynand a bursary “in her personal capacity”.
He said the incident had also “boomeranged” because his detractors had circulated allegations that he (Fransman) was behind the offer. “I see that as nothing but a process to coerce people,” he said.
City Press also saw a letter Fransman wrote to the commission in April, in which he requested that its members be investigated for leaking information to the media.
He said the provincial ANC’s decision to remove him as leader of the opposition in Western Cape legislature was factional, and that it happened despite assurances from Luthuli House that no official changes would happen in his absence while the matter was with the integrity commission.
The commission said it was confident that it adhered to the natural laws of justice as far as possible in an attempt to ensure that its findings were based on sound principles.
It said the value system of the ANC demanded a high moral and ethical standard of all members, including gender equality and mutual respect.
The commission said it intervenes where infractions of the ANC code of conduct have occurred. It left implementation of its decision to the secretary-general of the ANC.