ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule should voluntarily step aside or be suspended if he refuses, the party’s ethics body has recommended to the national executive committee (NEC).
In a report dated December 14, three days after Magashule appeared before the integrity commission, chairperson George Mashamba said the NEC should enforce its August resolution that “cadres of the ANC who are formally charged for corruption or other serious crimes must immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC”.
Magashule was last month charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering related to the asbestos project in which the Free State provincial government paid more than R250 million for work that was not done.
Magashule, who was at the time the premier in the province, had refused to step aside following the court appearance, citing that only ANC branch delegates who elected him during the Nasrec elective conference in 2017 were empowered to remove him from office.
Mashamba said in his report that the hearing with Magashule was “a long meeting and that covered many issues”.
He said Magashule’s brief to the commission was “thorough and comprehensive”.
“He came to the meeting very well prepared and offered to share with the commission all the documentation to which he referred, which he later did.”
Mashamba said Magashule was “a disciplined cadre and he made it clear that he was ready to perform any tasks given to him by the organisation”.
Magashule also agreed that he was bound by the decisions of the collective and he would step aside if so instructed by the NEC, said Mashamba.
He said Magashule also “understood his role to protect and uphold the values that have enabled the ANC for the last 108 years to have earned the credibility and legitimacy necessary to lead the country; and he was clear that the ANC was a voluntary organisation and therefore its members are bound by its constitution”.
The NEC meeting last week referred Magashule’s case to the commission. The NEC will meet again next month.
Mashamba said the commission was concerned about “the growing negative perception about the NEC”.
“The commission is increasingly receiving feedback from the general public, including ANC members, that the NEC is not providing decisive leadership and is paralysed in fulfilling its promise of organisational renewal and combating corruption,” he said.
Of concern, he continued, “is not the correctness or otherwise of these perceptions”.
“The concern is the negative and damaging impact these perceptions have on the organisation. It is now perceived that the NEC cannot implement its decision against its secretary-general not as a form of protecting him, but because some of the NEC members are themselves implicated in wrong doing.”
He said the NEC, which was the highest decision-making body between conferences, was responsible for the increasing lack of trust by the very people it purports to lead.
“The NEC seems to be doubting the soundness and correctness of its own conference resolutions, including its own decisions especially those that deal with corruption.
“The commission is worried that the officials and the NEC are increasingly making use of legal opinions to avoid implementing resolutions that are essentially ethical and political and that it has continuously promised South Africa it would implement.”
Mashamba said the NEC reported after every meeting that unity was key but that factionalism and division are weakening the ANC. “The commission understands that a united ANC is crucial for us to deliver on our promises. But unity can only be built around a common vision and purpose as understood when we talk of unity in action.”
He said unity was not about keeping individuals happy in order to avoid divisions. “It is not about allowing the organisation to be blackmailed around the slogan of unity,” he said. “While unity is paramount it must not be at the expense of the implementation of resolutions and decisions. Decisions of the ANC and its conferences must apply without fear or favour.”
Mashamba said Magashule assured the commission that he would never resist the decision of the NEC even if he might not agree with it. But he said: “In the unlikely event of resistance to this, the NEC should consider suspension pending the finalisation of the criminal case against him.”